As of this month, Qantas has eliminated fuel surcharges on revenue tickets originating in Australia. The concept of airlines permanently levying fuel surcharges is ridiculous to begin with, though for most consumers it doesn’t have huge implications.
That’s because it’s not like airfare would actually be cheaper without fuel surcharges — instead airlines would just raise the base fares proportionally to recoup the elimination of the fee, which is perfectly fine (after all, the cost of airfare isn’t driven by the cost of providing it, but rather by supply & demand).
While there are no implications for a vast majority of passengers, there are some instances where this matters if you’re redeeming miles. Specifically, if you’re redeeming British Airways Avios for travel on Qantas you could save quite a bit.
British Airways Executive Club typically passes on the fuel surcharges imposed by the airline operating the flight. And under the new system it means you won’t be charged fuel surcharges when redeeming Avios for travel on Qantas ex-Australia.
For example, a one-way economy award between Sydney and Los Angeles will cost you 50,000 Avios plus $81 in taxes:
The British Airways award search tool has trouble pricing the taxes/fees on awards originating elsewhere, presumably due to the change up in fuel surcharges:
Regardless, this makes redeeming British Airways Avios for travel on Qantas a much better value, even in business class, where you’d previously pay $400+ one-way in fuel surcharges:
It’s worth noting that the waived fuel surcharges apply whenever your travel originates on Qantas in Australia. So a roundtrip Australia to US award wouldn’t have any fuel surcharges for either direction of travel, while a roundtrip US to Australia award would have fuel surcharges for both directions of travel.
Even so, I wouldn’t really consider this to be hugely valuable, at least for North America based members. Why?
- Qantas releases very little award space between Australia and the US, in particular in premium cabins
- British Airways has a distance based award chart, so that’s not especially lucrative for the longhaul flights between Australia and the US mainland
- The best way to redeem for these flights is using American AAdvantage miles, and they don’t impose fuel surcharges for award travel on Qantas
This is definitely a positive change, and I’d love to see more airlines follow. In this case the implications are pretty narrow, though I commend them either way. If you were someone who previously redeemed Avios for longhaul travel on Qantas, then the value proposition of redemptions just got better.
(Tip of the hat to Dan’s Deals)