Oneworld Awards: Is US Airways Imposing Fuel Surcharges?

Update: American has confirmed that there should be no fuel surcharges for award travel on oneworld carriers other than British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair.

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.


JAL 777-300ER First Class Suite

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?

Comments

  1. What is big deal anyway? For most of airlines, fuel surcharge being charged ain’t lots of money.
    I feel that USAirways is the blacksheep of oneworld. Remember, waiving fuel surcharge is not a right but a privilege. Don’t expect too much when you can get miles so easy and so cheap.

  2. I received clarification from an US agent this morning. The agent explicitly said that: in the internal memo that was sent out last Friday, it instructed the agents to implement fuel surcharges for all OneWorld carriers with the limited exceptions of AA, US, QF, LA, S7, RJ, UL. I really hope that this isn’t true, but based on what I’m seeing right now, it might indeed be the reality that US/AA has yet again made another significant change to its loyalty program without advance notice

  3. @lucky Just a quick question: What do you use to make your “route maps” that are displayed in your trip reports?

  4. Did you see ANOTHER stealth devaluation? Within USA&Canada it used to be 25/50/50, now it is 25/50/65 without any notice. This is a third time they change their award chart without any notice, and I am sure they will keep doing it in the future.

  5. @enchino

    don’t worry, Suzanne Rubin will issue a public statement that she is shocked and surprised travelers do not like this change. LOL

  6. There is no YQ on JJ.

    I do not agree with Ben that US is not intending to charge YQ. Something tells me this was planned, and is here to stay.

  7. Tried to book a QF award to London last night and the agent informed me the fuel surcharge is now auto added when calculating taxes. After she read the memo, she took it off…. $998!!!! Then I tried to add a short haul BA flight to my trip…. Not only the price came back with the BA fuel surcharge, but the $998 from QF was added as well…. Rate desk checked that and informed me it’s correct… Didn’t want to spend more time on the phone so I got rid of the BA flights…

  8. @ Yucci — that’s pretty ridiculous!

    Anyway, I hope we get official clarification on this soon.

  9. Hi Lucky,
    Do you know if they still apply all the YQ from all carriers if I have one segment of BA on the routing?
    Like @ Yucci above

  10. @ Eric — Should be just for the one segment, but probably depends on who at the rates desk is pricing your ticket.

  11. Hi Ben,

    Do you know what the situation is at the moment w/ fuel surcharges?
    I just made a reservation that includes flights on JL, CX and QR in J, and the taxes and fees amounted to a whopping $700.
    Since my reservation has already been priced out (which took the desk 20 minutes), but not ticketed yet (in the 72-hour hold period), is there a way of getting lower taxes when I do ticket the award, or has that amount already been added to my reservation?

  12. @ Jeffrey — The amount has probably been added to the reservation, but I’d hang up and call again. That’s way high, and another person at the rates desk should be able to calculate it again.

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