Back in March, US Airways announced that with their transition to oneworld they would be imposing fuel surcharges for travel on British Airways and Iberia.
However, in practice they didn’t do that for the first month they belonged to oneworld, which led to some great opportunities.
News of this “loophole” broke a couple of weeks ago, and then in the past week or so US Airways began imposing fuel surcharges for British Airways and Iberia redemptions.
I’ve received several messages over the past couple of days from people saying that they’ve also been charged fuel surcharges for travel on oneworld carriers other than British Airways and Iberia.
They say that US Airways Dividend Miles agents told them that a memo went out last week saying that fuel surcharges are to be imposed on most oneworld airlines, including Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines.
So why are some agents imposing fuel surcharges for most oneworld redemptions?
I don’t think US Airways is intending to impose fuel surcharges on carriers other than British Airways and Iberia.
Call me naive, but I don’t think US Airways would do that.
When they joined oneworld they explicitly said they would be imposing fuel surcharges for travel on British Airways and Iberia, and if they had the intention of imposing fuel surcharges on other carriers I think they would have made that clear.
And while I lost trust in AAdvantage and Dividend Miles after their devaluation without notice several weeks back, I don’t think they’re dumb enough to repeat that. Long term it’s entirely possible that the “new” American will impose fuel surcharges on more carriers, but short term I don’t see that being the case.
I don’t deny agents are trying to impose fuel surcharges on other carriers.
Let me be clear, even though I don’t think US Airways is intending to impose fuel surcharges on carriers other than British Airways and Iberia, I absolutely do believe in some cases they are doing so.
So to those reporting being asked to pay fuel surcharges on other carriers, I totally believe you, I just don’t believe the agent you’re talking to.
Remember pricing US Airways award tickets is a highly manual process.
At virtually every other airline the computers automatically price the taxes and fees on award tickets. That means once the agents put the flights in the record, the computer automatically populates the fare quote, consisting of the number of miles required and the taxes and fees.
At US Airways the taxes will automatically price for simple itineraries, while the fuel surcharges don’t.
That means when an agent books a British Airways award they have to remember to go to the rates desk and have the rates agent manually add the fuel surcharges (which is why in some cases it’s still possible to book these awards without fuel surcharges, since some agents forget).
My guess is that some agents at the rates desk read the memo regarding British Airways fuel surcharges incorrectly, and are adding them on other carriers as well.
It’s totally ridiculous how manual this process is, and when there’s a chance for human error, you can count on it happening at US Airways (for better and for worse). And really we should be happy about that, because it’s agents not understanding the rules correctly that also leads to a lot of the “opportunities” available through Dividend Miles.
As always, hang up and call again.
If you’re being told there are massive fuel surcharges on an award ticket not involving Iberia or British Airways, hang up and call again.
I’ve reached out to a contact at American to seek clarification on the issue, but until further notice I’d assume this is just agents misinterpreting a new policy, and not actually a directive from the top.
If you’ve tried to book a US Airways award on other oneworld carriers over the past few days, were you charged fuel surcharges?