British Airways Adding Fuel Surcharges On US Airways Awards

US Airways joined the oneworld alliance in late March, and one of the things I was most looking forward to about that was redeeming British Airways Avios for travel on US Airways without fuel surcharges.

When redeeming British Airways Avios, they impose whatever fuel surcharges the operating carrier would impose on a revenue ticket. US Airways has long embedded fuel surcharges on tickets, meaning that the ticket didn’t show any fuel surcharges (instead they were “built in” to the fare).

This meant that no fuel surcharges were collected on tickets booked using British Airways Avios. For example, a flight from Charlotte to Paris in US Airways Envoy Class would cost you 40,000 Avios plus $2.50 in taxes.

US-Airways-Envoy
US Airways A330 Envoy Class

It appears as if that policy has now changed, and US Airways is no longer embedding fuel surcharges. Instead fuel surcharges now show as a separate “line” in the fare breakdown.

For example, pulling up a one-way business class ticket between Philadelphia and Paris, it displays a $428 fuel surcharge, which wasn’t previously the case.

British-Airways-Avios-US-Airways-3

British-Airways-Avios-US-Airways-2

As you might expect, these fuel surcharges are now being levied when redeeming British Airways Avios. Pulling up the same one-way flight as above, you’re now going to pay 40,000 Avios plus $452.50 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

British-Airways-Avios-US-Airways-5

British-Airways-Avios-US-Airways-6

It goes without saying that this sucks, though at the same time it’s hardly surprising. My guess is that American and US Airways are simply aligning the way they publish fares, and in this case US Airways is adopting the industry standard, as they were the outlier with their embedded fuel surcharges.

There are still ways to redeem British Airways Avios without fuel surcharges

Just to clarify on the above, there still aren’t any fuel surcharges when redeeming Avios for domestic US Airways tickets, as there aren’t any fuel surcharges on domestic revenue tickets.

In terms of other transatlantic options without fuel surcharges, you can still redeem British Airways Avios for:

Aer-Lingus-Business-Class
Aer Lingus business class

Bottom line

There’s no doubt this is a huge hit to the value of redeeming British Airways Avios for transatlantic travel. While US Airways’ soft product isn’t amazing, they have a really solid business class hard product, which is the single most important feature for transatlantic business class, in my opinion.

(Tip of the hat to DansDeals)

Comments

  1. Considering the level of service you had on your last TATL flight with them I would say this award is not worth the surcharges.

  2. This is not good news. Pretty much means Avios should be used for domestic redemptions while AA/US miles for international trips (provided you have BA and AA/US).

  3. This seems like the leading edge of where the new AA is headed with their new chart. Fuel surcharges for all awards in oneworld. And no TATL saver award space. Sweet.

  4. Lucky,

    In your opinion, what’s the absolute best way to get to London from NYC using miles? Take into account quality of product, cost of miles, surcharges, etc. Is booking with cash a better option at this point? Hard to think so given the increase in fares.

  5. @ Anthony — That’s a real toughie. If the goal is to fly direct, I really like Virgin Atlantic Upper Class. They have great lounges on both ends, a nice business class product, and good service. That being said, fuel surcharges are hefty.

    So quite a tradeoff between cash and flying directly, where each person’s preference will vary.

  6. Maybe the silver lining here is BA members won’t bother booking these US flights anymore since they have to pay YQ on both BA and US. That means AA/US members will get to snag the US flights instead.

  7. So sick and tired of you complaining about fuel surcharges. Millennials sure have a warped idea about what they will and will not spend money on. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money TUMI, why does it to you?
    You are flying in business/first class. You can afford the fees. Stop complaining.

  8. @ notamillennial — Good point, because given the choice between paying $0 in fuel surcharges and $500 in fuel surcharges, I’d rather pay $500. Hey, here’s an idea. How about I institute a $500 reader fee just for you? I’m sure you won’t mind, since you’re “notamillennial.”

    Always find it fascinating how people arbitrarily attach labels to things…

  9. @notamillennial – I’m not a millennial either, but I not only agree with Lucky but go one step further and would like to see the Feds outright ban fuel surcharges on award travel. Airlines advertise award travel as “free” (or “free except for government charges” which, since – except for motor fuels – the norm in the US is for prices to be advertised before taxes or government charges, is the same thing.) But then they slap “fuel surcharges” on, so “free” becomes “not anywhere near free”. If a restaurant has a loyalty program which offers free food when you earn a certain number of points, they can’t slap “electricity surcharges” or “gas surcharges” on them – if they tried, they’d get hauled into court.

    So why should airlines get away with it?

    Fuel surcharges exist on revenue tickets because because as a “fee” they aren’t subject to corporate discounts, and so airlines can adjust fares without filing new tariffs with the GDS companies. They have no place on non-revenue tickets.

  10. I’m confused… why does the same flight have different fuel surcharges when booking on Us Airways and British airways? On US Airways it’s only 80 something dollars, whereas on BA it’s over $300?

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