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Get ready to pay even more out of pocket when redeeming Avios for flights operated by British Airways. As British Airways increases fuel surcharges again, this adds to the airline's already extreme fees and surcharges — a big headache on award bookings.
Here's how much more you'll pay when redeeming your Avios on select long-haul routes.
Fuel Surcharges on Award Flights
Ideally, award travel should come free of any out-of-pocket expenses. After all, you had to spend money to earn those rewards in the first place. Unfortunately, as most frequent flyers already know, award travel is not entirely free.
Even when redeeming miles or points on a flight operated entirely within the United States, travelers will typically pay a security tax. Luckily, these fees are quite insignificant. For most domestic award travel, taxes and fees — usually just $5.60 — add up to a little more than the cost of a latte at Starbucks.
However, international award travel is an entirely different story.
British Airways is notorious for the airline's ridiculously high carrier-imposed fees and surcharges on Avios redemptions. For long-haul flights booked in a premium cabin departing the airline's hubs in London, the airline was known to charge over $500 in taxes, fees, and surcharges each leg. Now, as British Airways increases its fuel surcharges, those fees will cost even more.
British Airways Increases Fuel Surcharges
The fuel surcharges accompanying some Avios award redemptions have just increased dramatically on some routes. We are seeing increases of hundreds of dollars on many routes.
Now, when you redeem your Avios for a round-trip flight in business class to London, you will have to pay nearly $2,000 in cash in carrier-imposed fees and surcharges round-trip. That's on top of the Avios you'll pay for this “free” flight.
This latest increase appears to be focused on premium cabin award travel on long-haul routes operated by British Airways to the United States. Nevertheless, one popular use of Avios is for long-haul premium cabin award travel. This makes the latest fuel surcharge increase all the more impactful.
From a review of various routes, we are finding rather standardized fuel surcharges in premium cabins on routes to the United States. However, fuel surcharges in economy are still a mixed bag. For example, you can pay as little as $206.56 round-trip to fly from Los Angeles to London Heathrow on off-peak dates:
However, from Chicago to London, an off-peak economy round-trip award will cost you more than $641 out-of-pocket:
So, we dug into several routes to see what the new taxes and surcharges look like. Here are the round-trip taxes and surcharges that we are finding on various routes:
|LAX-LHR-LAX||Peak||$536.56||$975.03||$1,975.03||no availability found|
|MIA-LHR-MIA||Off-Peak||$206.56||$975.03||$1,975.03||no availability found|
|MIA-LHR-MIA||Peak||$536.56||$975.03||$1,975.03||no availability found|
If you're looking to make a long-haul award booking, it may be worth checking redemptions with Iberia, Aer Lingus, and Qatar to see if those are cheaper in terms of cash and miles. If so, you can move your Avios between programs for free at Avios.com. That's because those programs also use Avios as their currency.
The Bottom Line
Airlines are already facing increased operating costs as a result of rising fuel costs. Many airlines will work to balance out these increased costs by increasing the number of miles or points required to book a flight. British Airways has decided to go another route.
Though the airline already had some of the highest carrier-imposed fees for award travel, travelers will now face an even heftier fuel charge. On popular long-haul routes operated by British Airways, travelers who redeem their Avios for premium cabin travel are seeing a significant increase in fuel surcharges.
As of writing, the increased fuel surcharge has now been rolled out to most — if not all — long-haul routes operated by British Airways to the United States. This certainly devalues Avios on the routes impacted by this change.
What do you make of the increased fuel surcharge? Does this change your British Airways Avios strategy?
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