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When it comes to carrier-imposed surcharges and fees, there is probably no worse offender than British Airways. Over the past few years, British Airways has increased award ticket surcharges to outrageous amounts.
It is not uncommon for a one-way business class Avios award between the United States and London to come with up to $1,000 each way in carrier-imposed surcharges. However, British Airways just made a pretty significant change that makes avoiding these outrageous surcharges and fees much easier.
British Airways significantly reduced surcharges for travelers that utilize the Reward Flight Saver option. While the reduction in carrier-imposed surcharges does mean an increase in the number of Avios needed for flights, more redemption flexibility can ultimately be a win for travelers.
British Airways Carrier-Imposed Surcharges and Fees
British Airways is notorious for charging Executive Club members exorbitant surcharges and fees on Avios award tickets. Round-trip business or first class Avios redemptions typically come with around $2,000 USD round-trip in fees and surcharges. Economy awards aren't much better.
As a point of comparison, American Airlines, British Airways' joint-venture partner, allows AAdvantage members to redeem their miles for less than $50 in taxes and fees on most trans-Atlantic routes.
With Avios award travel often costing travelers so much out-of-pocket, the Avios program loses a lot of value. Of course, there have always been ways to navigate around British Airways' carrier-imposed surcharges. However, these hefty fees have always been quite burdensome when trying to redeem Avios for long-haul award travel.
Luckily, British Airways has made changes to the airline's Reward Flight Saver option, which could potentially save travelers hundreds each way on Avios award travel.
What Is British Airways Reward Flight Saver?
When redeeming Avios for eligible flights, travelers have the option to choose the optimal mix of cash and points for their award ticket. This is thanks to the Reward Flight Saver option offered on a number of flights operated by British Airways.
With this option, travelers can opt to save their Avios while paying more out of pocket. Conversely, travelers can also choose to use more Avios to avoid paying more in cash.
Until recently, the Reward Flight Saver option didn't provide much value to travelers booking international long-haul award travel. The out-of-pocket cost required to book Avios award redemptions was still quite high, especially when compared to Reward Flight Saver fares on intra-European award tickets.
Recently, British Airways made some significant changes to the Reward Flight Saver option on long-haul award travel. Executive Club members can now avoid paying ridiculous carrier-imposed fees and surcharges when they use more of their Avios.
British Airways Reward Flight Saver Example
Here's what this looks like on a flight in Club World (business class) between New York City (JFK) and London Heathrow (LHR):
And here's what the updated Reward Flight Saver option looks like for economy Avios award travel on the same route:
As a reminder, off-peak business class award flights between New York City and London are priced at 50,000 Avios each way. With this option, carrier-imposed surcharges and fees total $950 one-way.
With the revised Reward Flight Saver pricing, Executive Club members can now book this route for 80,000 Avios and just $350 in cash. This is good news as it provides far more flexibility for travelers when booking Avios awards.
The revised Reward Flight Saver fares give travelers a number of options to choose from when booking their award flights. Here are a few more examples of the updated Reward Flight Saver options:
London (LHR) to Tel Aviv (TLV) | Business Class | One-Way:
Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) | Business Class | One-Way:
Companion Tickets Just Got More Valuable
As a result of the changes to the Reward Flight Saver fares, British Airways companion fares just became more valuable. When booking a British Airways Travel Together ticket, travelers don't have to redeem Avios for the second ticket. However, they do have to pay any surcharges and fees.
The British Airways Travel Together fare is offered as a benefit of spending $30,000 in a year on a British Airways Visa Signature® Card.
Previously, if one was to redeem their Travel Together ticket for a one-way business class ticket between New York City and London, they would only need 50,000 Avios but would still pay upwards of $1900 in fees and surcharges. Now, using Reward Flight Saver fares, this same ticket could require 80,000 Avios but just $700 in fees and surcharges.
The British Airways Visa Card also offers up to $600 back in statement credits to cover carrier-imposed surcharges and fees. You can use these statement credits to further reduce your out-of-pocket costs on British Airways awards.
How To Find and Book Reward Flight Saver Awards
Both finding and booking Reward Flight Saver awards are quite simple. If a flight is eligible for Reward Flight Saver, a blue dollar icon will be visible in the right corner of the flight details box. To book a Reward Flight Saver, pick your ideal mix of Avios and cash and continue the booking process like any other Avios award.
The Bottom Line
British Airways' recent changes to its Reward Flight Saver options are great news for travelers. Now, Executive Club members have more flexibility when booking Avios awards on flights operated by British Airways.
With the new Reward Flight Saver options, travelers can save hundreds each way when traveling between the US and Europe. Travelers can also save on pretty much every flight operated by British Airways, including flights originating in Europe.
What do you make of the changes to the Reward Flight Saver option? Would you opt to use more Avios to save some cash?
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