Iberia Plus requires a positive points balance to search oneworld award space

Iberia and British Airways, two of the airlines that use Avios as their rewards currency, have long had a number of differences in their award charts. British Airways charged each award segment separately, while Iberia averaged the cost of each first class, business, and economy leg over the length of the entire trip (see an illustration here).

For the last few weeks, I've run into a different problem: I have been totally unable to search and price oneworld award availability using my Iberia Plus account. Here's low-level availability between Dallas and Chicago on American Airlines on April 17, 2015:

Here's the same seat available for 7,500 British Airways Avios:

And here's the result that kept coming up when searching in my Iberia Plus account:

Iberia Plus won't show oneworld availability unless you have Avios in your account

After what seemed like hours of fiddling around with my Iberia Plus account, it finally occurred to me that I didn't have any Avios in the account. What if, like some other overseas loyalty programs, Iberia required a positive account balance to search for award space?

To test the proposition, I transferred 1,000 Avios from British Airways into my Iberia Plus account, and sure enough, the (somewhat overpriced) award space immediately appeared:


I've been planning to explore potentially valuable Iberia Plus awards for a few weeks, but have been stymied by this problem. So now you know: oneworld award space will only appear on Iberia Plus searches if you have a positive Iberia Plus Avios balance.