(Quirk?) Lower fuel surcharges on British Airways awards


Award tickets on British Airways are known to come with unreasonably high fuel surcharges (business class awards typically carry surcharges in the neighborhood of $600-$800 each way on transatlantic award tickets). However, as View from the Wing reports, American Airlines is currently collecting far reduced fuel surcharges from the US to the UK and Alaska Mileage Plan is collecting far reduced fuel surcharges in the opposite direction. It’s unclear whether this is intentional, temporary, or a long-term change, but I personally wouldn’t count on these lower rates to stick around.

Update: Reader Larry K and Dan from Dan’s Deals point out in the comments that surcharges have been lower with some partners for a while now and Dan points to a list of other options you might consider for booking these.

Many readers are likely familiar with the fact that British Airways award surcharges are significant. However, at the moment, American Airlines is showing heavily reduced surcharges when flying from the United States to the UK. For example, here are a couple of February flights from Newark and JFK to London Heathrow with only $279 in taxes and surcharges.

Note that on my example date, American also had availability on its own flights with only $5.60 in taxes one-way, so that would be the much cheaper option on my sample date. That said, American typically offers far less award space in premium cabins than British Airways. Almost three hundred bucks one way still isn’t an example of low fuel surcharges, but Alaska Airlines is collecting $737 in taxes and fees for the same flights above eastbound.

But on the way back from Europe, Alaska has surcharges pegged around $411 one-way (versus $587 for the same flights through AA.com).

Taken together by booking the way to London via AA and the way home via Alaska, you’d save about $690 total round trip in taxes & fees versus the normal $1,324 with those examples (that you’d pay if you booked the eastbound via Alaska and westbound via AA).

That total in fuel surcharges is still far from cheap, especially when you consider that Iberia is offering business class between eastern US cities and Spain for 17,000 Avios each way right now (with about $175 in total taxes and fees round trip) for travel through mid-March 2021.

That said, if your travel dates don’t have availability via Iberia and/or you don’t want the hassle of connecting onward to the UK if that’s your final destination, this pricing quirk may come in handy. I wouldn’t count on it to last. This definitely isn’t a hot enough deal so as to be worth trading a transferable currency for airline miles, but if you have miles on hand and were thinking of making a book, you’ll want to save several hundred dollars in surcharges with this.

H/T: View from the Wing


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