One of the big downsides to redeeming miles for travel on British Airways is the fuel surcharges they impose. These surcharges apply regardless of whether you’re booking an award ticket through British Airways’ own Executive Club program, or through one of their partner airlines.
For example, the roundtrip fuel surcharges for business class between San Francisco and London are ~$904.
That doesn’t even include any of the other taxes and fees. These are only made worse by the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD), which applies for tickets that have travel originating in the UK.
What’s interesting about British Airways fuel surcharges (and fuel surcharges in general, for that matter), is that they’re not equally divided by direction of travel. Let’s take a roundtrip business class ticket between San Francisco and London as an example, where the roundtrip fuel surcharges would be $904.
If we instead pull up the tickets as one-ways, the fuel surcharges are different. For the outbound between San Francisco and London, the British Airways fuel surcharges are filed at $452.00:
While on the return the British Airways fuel surcharges are reduced to only $289.10 (presumably to counter-balance the UK departure tax and make one-way redemptions less grotesquely expensive):
So by booking this as two one-way awards rather than a roundtrip you would pay $741.10 rather than $904, which saves $163 in British Airways fuel surcharges.
Due to the way British Airways files their fuel surcharges, this should be possible on all routes between North America and Europe, not just between San Francisco and London.
This is also a possible way to reduce fees on BA when booking awards through American’s AAdvantage program, for what it’s worth.
Keep in mind if you’re using the British Airways Travel Together Ticket you can only apply that towards one ticket, so this isn’t a way to reduce fuel surcharges on a roundtrip ticket booked using that.
Still, if you’re redeeming any other mileage currency that allows one way awards for half the cost of a roundtrip, it will almost always be worth booking British Airways awards as one-ways rather than a roundtrip.
(Tip of the hat to David)