I love learning new things, especially about award bookings. Today’s lesson? There are no fuel surcharges for flights originating in Brazil due to government regulations. This is awesome, especially for those with British Airways Avios points or British Midland miles to burn before their partnership in Star Alliance ends. It’s even useful for those with American AAdvantage miles, given that they impose fuel surcharges for award redemptions on British Airways.
Anyway, the really cool news is that any award ticket originating in Brazil isn’t subject to fuel surcharges, even if it’s for an airline that usually imposes them.
For example, I priced a first class award ticket between Sao Paulo and London on British Airways:
The one-way cost is 90,000 Avios points plus only $36 in taxes (business class would be 60,000 Avios points while coach would be 30,000 Avios points):
And even a roundtrip award ticket from Sao Paulo to London wouldn’t be subject to the fuel surcharges. It’s worth noting, however, that a roundtrip award ticket from London to Sao Paulo would be subject to the fuel surcharges, since it’s based on the country of origination.
British Airways and Iberia both serve Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
The results when pricing out an Iberia ticket are similar:
And the taxes for that would also only be $36:
I’m trying to burn some British Midland miles right now, and both Lufthansa and Swiss serve Brazil. Usually they’d have $300+ fuel surcharges per passenger for a longhaul premium cabin flight, though in looking at the business class fare on Lufthansa between Sao Paulo and Frankfurt, here’s the breakdown:
In other words, you’d only pay about $71.50 at most in taxes for booking this flight, instead of $400+ if it were originating elsewhere.
And business class award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss is actually pretty decent departing South America:
Keep in mind that British Midland only charges 37,500 miles (or 18,750 miles plus £127.50) for a one-way business class ticket from South America to Europe, which is a real bargain.
Now, how practical is all of this actually? Probably not very, at least for those based in North America with limited vacation time. It’s useful if you’re planning a circle trip and want to visit both South America and Europe on the same trip, since you can save a good chunk of cash thanks to the lack of fuel surcharges. At the same time, keep in mind that if you have a US passport you need a visa to visit Brazil. Fortunately I have a German passport, so that’s a non-issue for me.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that for those of you with a companion certificate from the British Airways Visa, it’s only valid for flights originating in the US, so it wouldn’t be useful in this instance.
So this is interesting, though I’m just trying to figure out a good way to capitalize on this, and I’m not coming up with anything especially good. I’d like to visit Rio de Janeiro, but I’m thinking there are more efficient ways to book a ticket down there that don’t involve a 5,000 mile detour. But then again, what’s the fun in that?
(Tip of the hat to Million Mile Secrets)