BOOK NOW! US Airways Not Adding Fuel Surcharges To British Airways Award Tickets

A month ago US Airways left the Star Alliance and joined oneworld, which was both sad and exciting. It was sad in the sense that you could no longer book some amazing itineraries for travel on Star Alliance, but exciting in the sense that it opened up all kinds of exciting new award routings with oneworld that weren’t previously possible.

One of the downsides to oneworld is that the only two oneworld airlines offering first class on transatlantic flights are American and British Airways. American releases very little first class award space, while British Airways imposes massive fuel surcharges on award redemptions.

Not only do they impose massive fuel surcharges if booking through their program, but they impose those same fuel surcharges regardless of which of their partners you book through, be it American, Alaska, or any of their other partners.

Back in March, US Airways announced that they would be imposing fuel surcharges for travel on British Airways and Iberia, though in practice they haven’t been imposing those for the past month, which has led to some great opportunities.

Now, British Airways’ first class product isn’t actually all that great.

I consider it to simply be a really good business class product, all things considered (in particular their Concorde Room). That being said, I do slightly prefer their A380 first class product, which is a bit more spacious.

British Airways A380 first class cabin

The ordinary fuel surcharges on a transatlantic flight are $800-900 roundtrip for first or business class, in addition to the hefty UK Air Passenger Duty if you’re originating or terminating in the UK.


However, for the past month or so US Airways hasn’t been passing that surcharge on to passengers booking award tickets with Dividend Miles. So this is a phenomenal opportunity to book British Airways award tickets without paying high fees.

US Airways does charge a $50 Dividend Miles processing fee, along with a $75 Quick Ticketing fee for travel within 21 days, but outside of that (and the UK departure tax) the out of pocket costs should be quite low.

Anyway, this isn’t something I would have written about since I know it’ll die very quickly now, but since another blogger decided to post about it this morning, I certainly don’t want anyone that doesn’t read that site to be at a disadvantage.

So if you’d like to redeem US Airways miles for travel on British Airways I would recommend doing so ASAP, as I suspect the fuel surcharges will be added to these tickets very soon.


  1. Booked JFK-NRT-HKG-SIN-SYD / AKL-MEL-DXB-LHR-JFK yesterday in First on JL, CX & QF with two sectors on BA for under $200 in taxes and fees. Loving this brief, soon-to-close window…

  2. Dang it! Just need for the window to stay open for another 2 weeks for so.

    Any idea how soon this might end?

  3. “Anyway, this isn’t something I would have written about since I know it’ll die very quickly now”

    so is this the new theme of your blog? hiding deals from your readers?

  4. Ben, you’re obviously free to share with your readers whatever you choose to share and not share what you don’t want to. But this post got me wondering…are there other tricks and deals like this that you are aware of that you choose not to share with your readers? You obviously knew about this loophole for a month and only decided to share with us because another blogger posted about it first. Makes me wonder how many other cool tricks we’re missing out on. I was always under the impression that you shared everything you discovered with your readers.

  5. I am not a fan of bloggers but I would not throw a stone at Ben.

    TPG is the first scumbag who posted it. Gary and Ben did not have a choice but to follow and post. They made it clear that if there was no other blog posting this with a large readership, they would have not posted this either.

    Please remember the next time you are applying for credit cards NOT to give a dime to TPG.

  6. Ouch to Lantean! The Points guy wrote about this deal this morning but other bloggers here in boardingarea like canadian kilometres wrote about this a few weeks ago so it’s nothing ‘new’ to the blogosphere.

  7. I think it goes without saying that we all love Ben’s blog, and we return and read it every day. There are some bloggers who will do anything to draw in readership aka TPG who doesn’t have the content boarding area has. I do see both sides to this. Maybe I’m off in left field, but why wouldn’t you go to a subscription based model for your site? I’d certainly pay a monthly fee. Everything would be out there and published. For the record from the numerous posts I have read from Ben, and the way he conveys opportunities for all of us, I don’t think for one minute he deliberately hides anything from his readership.

  8. Luis – there are always going to be things on the down-low, simply because when they get publicized, they will be cut off within hours. If you really want to play the frugal travel game on ‘expert’ mode, you cannot rely just on the blogs. It requires research of your own, either through FlyerTalk, piecing together various tidbits from around the internet, or boots-on-the-ground investigating.

    It’s akin to thinking you will always get the best deals by paying attention to the SlickDeals homepage – it will have some good ones, but they will often be gone quickly as the masses looking to save a quick buck all descend at once.

  9. Lucky, you’ll never win with some people.

    Please post the deals you’re comfortable posting, and don’t post the ones you’re not comfortable posting, those are the only “rules” you can go by if you want to stay sane.

    And many (the majority?) of your readers are following you for tips and information. If everything is a secret you’ll soon have nothing to say. Keep up the good work.

  10. @ Lantean — I explained my approach towards “mistakes” pretty clearly in this post:

    And I stand by what I said:

    “I guess this really shouldn’t be surprising. Here’s my personal philosophy for sharing “tricks:”

    — If someone shares a “trick” with me in confidence under the condition that I don’t pass it on, I’ll of course honor that.
    — Other than that, I try to think about what will maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If more people will benefit from a trick being shared (like a short term mistake fare), then I’ll share it. If more people will benefit from it not being shared, I won’t.

    I wish it made sense to share all tricks, but the problem aside from the “visibility” of a blog post, is that some people just aren’t able to apply common sense to a situation.

    For example, chances are if you booked one refundable ticket every couple of weeks Alaska wouldn’t have noticed or cared. But I bet there were people that read about this and then purchased 30 refundable tickets in a period of an hour, and then refunded them all instantly.

    That’s what makes the airlines catch on.”

    Do you disagree? Curious to hear how you’d approach it otherwise!

  11. It’s not any bloggers obligation to post every deal they learn about. This isn’t the “I will tell you all the secrets blog.”

  12. @ Luis — There are certainly tricks that I’ll admit I don’t share on the blog, and the reason is very simple. My goal is to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people using my best judgment. There are “loopholes” that have been around for a year, and if I posted about them today I can guarantee you that they’d be gone within a week. I don’t think that would be in anyone’s best interest.

    Beyond that, people do often share deals with me under the condition that I don’t blog about them, and in those cases I have to honor the requests.

    I shared my philosophy in this post:

    Let me be clear that I do everything I can to share as many deals as I can here. If anything, it would be in my own self interest to share deals here that I currently don’t, as it would maximize pageviews/traffic for sure. But I want the greatest number of people in the “hobby” to benefit to the greatest degree possible.

  13. I don’t think this will end soon. Will probably end once AAdvantage and DM merge. Spoken to a lot of US Airways reps the last couple of weeks and they’re having a very hard time with the changes and oneworld award bookings. To the extent that they charge lesser miles than necessary (and this is after the Rates desk looks at it).

  14. Lucky- I’m planning a trip for next May to include BA-F, thus still outside the booking window. The question: were you me, would you book something today knowing I’m going to pay a change fee..but hoping they don’t recalculate fees when I can actually fix and book for May?

  15. @ Adam G — Well tickets are only valid for a year from the date of issue, so there would be no way to do that. That being said, I suspect if you change a ticket once they add fuel surcharges they would reprice it.

  16. So, if I book a flight now and change it later (I need a flight to PEK in July 2015), would it likely hit the fuel surcharges or not? Do you think it makes sense to do that?

  17. @Lucky

    I understand all that but then we have to ask ourselves how much can we really rely on your blog to find the deals? I don’t have time to come to flyertalk every 5 min a read thru pages of posts to find a great deal… I depend on bloggers to do that and in return I use their application links so they can make a living (specifically, I only use yours as I am your LOYAL reader).
    However, in the light of this event and what you said in your message it seems like you are basically telling us we cannot depend on you to find out about the BEST deals… presently it seems like we can depend on TPG much more.
    Just my $0.02.

  18. @ Chris — I suspect they would reprice the taxes/fuel surcharges if you change the award later on once they’ve added fuel surcharges.

  19. @ Lantean — And if that’s how you feel I respect that and there’s not really anything I can do. All I can say is:

    a) It’s not out of selfish reasons that I don’t share some deals, actually quite the opposite. I haven’t booked a single award on BA using US miles, so it’s not like I’m trying to “save” the deal for myself. I simply try to use my best judgment to decide what will maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people. If anything I would have made more money by “breaking” this deal long ago.

    b) The problem with the internet is that there’s no such thing as sharing a deal JUST with my readers. If I could I would share everything. When I share a deal with my readers I’m sharing a deal with the whole world, and that’s the beauty of information sharing on the internet. Then things die within a day.

    c) I think it says a lot more about how out of touch TPG is with this hobby than anything else, given how he just discovered this (I know hundreds of people that have known this all along). You’d think this discovery wouldn’t come as a surprise to the top miles & points blogger. But I certainly could be wrong…

    d) I can’t win either way. I just got an email saying “F*&$ you, asshole!” because I shared this deal. And then I have you telling me I can’t be trusted to share deals. So hopefully you can at least appreciate the challenge in balancing those two sides.

    e) I’m genuinely trying to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Isn’t the goal at the end of the day for the greatest number of people possible to benefit from miles & points? Lets say that in the past month 10,000 people that have booked British Airways through US Airways without fuel surcharges. If we knew that sharing the deal meant it would be pulled within a day and only 1,000 people could benefit from it, would you still share the deal? Of course I’m pulling those numbers out of thin air, though that is my general struggle — I genuinely believe more people would have benefited from this if it didn’t get the publicity.

    So I totally respect if you disagree with my approach and think I can’t be trusted anymore, but hopefully you at least see where I’m coming from…

  20. Lucky definitely did the right thing. No point spreading the word unless someone else does it first. If people want to know all the tricks they only need to read FT.

    On another note TPG is definitely scum of the blogsphere. His new maximizer program compromised my bank account. I’ve never read his blog ever since. I even tried contacting him but with no response. Hope no one uses it!

  21. Ben I totally understand… but just like many others have expressed in their comments, I always wonder what deals are there that you do know and never share with us mere mortals (and now even more so). That’s all.
    Sorry you got that nasty email… it wasn’t I.

  22. Ben, I totally back you on this. And even have to appreciate what you did, at what time. Do not feel you did anything immoral. If its out in the wild, no one knows when the window will close and you did exactly the thing I’d have done in your place.
    Totally justified !

  23. In all fairness TPG posted this earlier today. The only thing where I could be critical with you, Ben, is your headline. Caps with exclamation marks. You could have been a little more diplomatic in delivering this.

  24. Thanks Lucky. Appreciate the earnestness.

    FWIW Dan’s Deals posted the corollary of this (that British Air isn’t charging fuel surcharges on US Air tickets to Europe) the night that US Air switched over to oneworld.

  25. come on guys, you really believed that lucky, gary, et al tell you everything they know? please, you guys aren’t in the club.

    most bloggers carry themselves as if they are in some sort of fraternity. go to any FTU event and see how clique-y they are. Gary and lucky had been discussing this deal for weeks (per gary’s blog). you are kidding yourself if you don’t think the BA bloggers were all talking about this amoungst themselves.

    they’d LOVE to hear your secrets through… and they won’t blog it to anyone (but they’ll be happy to pass it around the blogger water cooler).

    Lucky, and others, will do whats best for their blog (however they justify it). Its a business after all. Just don’t be surprised when it doesn’t mesh with your view of how things should be done (which ever way they may go)

  26. I really can appreciate you didn’t post about this… But am far less sympathetic that you do now. It has been posted publicly before, but now it’s gone a bit more mainstream you value the extra traffic to your blog more than those same principals that prevented you from doing so before?

  27. Gerald just hit it on the head. Ben is just worried he’d be losing the traffic because people might think that he wasn’t aware of such tricks (and hence, not much of an expert), not about people reading his blogs being at a disadvantage.

  28. Everyone from FT/MP need to get over themselves. If something is posted on there then it is open to the public. Stop beating up bloggers for posting deals (to get cc referrals obv) and find a new loophole.

    I recall a similar rant on MV for the Lifemiles post where that was going to be killed.

  29. @jay @gerard, totally agree with you guys. i don’t understand why tpg is the black sheep. the info has been in the wild for awhile if you looked.

    @lucky it’s dishonest to put a “book now” tag when you knew about this “deal” for some time. You’re misleading people to think tpg is the bad guy for outing this “deal” and there is a sense of urgency to book now when in fact you have no idea when this is going to be closed.

  30. @ Gerard — Based on where it has been posted in the past I wouldn’t expect it to be pulled, it wasn’t on a major site. However, once it hits TPG or another major blog you can bet it will be pulled in due time. And at that point I don’t want people reading my blog to be at a disadvantage.

  31. All of you should be ashamed for posting this. Some of us live where BA is the only option to Europe by the way. We’re not just avoiding YQ we’re avoiding 3-4 flights to reach a destination.

  32. Just goes to show you really can’t please everyone. Now people are pissed that Ben, Gary, and others shared this (thus speeding up its demise) AND people are pissed that they didn’t share this earlier. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Anyone with a bit of motivation could have found out about this earlier either through FT or a number of smaller blogs (including mine where I referenced it on 4/8 and posted about it again on 4/16).

    There are plenty of tricks and glitches out there if you’re willing to spend just a little bit of time finding them. Don’t blame the bloggers for not spoon feeding you every bit of information. And certainly don’t blame them if they do!

  33. There are some people with a certain rule and for some they are just clueless.
    I recalled seeing an FD trick fare posted by a boardingarea blogger not so long ago and he called it awesome findings, and continued with another post showing “more of his findings”.
    So I like One Mile at a Time and View of the Wings more than most other bloggers. There’s more “juice” in the posts and there’s certain “rules”.

  34. “If I want to be up to date on the latest deals, I should go to TPG’s blog”

    – said nobody ever

    Seriously folks. TPG is the last to break almost every single deal. And the ones that he isn’t the last to break, it’s only because the other bloggers decided not to post about it (like this one) – not because he was the first to “figure it out”

    Going to TPG to get the latest deals, LOL. That’s like going to Oregon because you wanted to see the Alamo

  35. For those of bashing TPG, Shame on you! To be fair, I called us airways and notified them about this glitch. The rep and her boss thanked me and said they sent an alert note to the mileage department executive office.
    Rest in peace!

  36. Truth is, you should’ve posted this on day 1

    Not because you should blow secrets that you know will die if you post them, but because on day 1, you have no clue if that is a temporary error that will get fixed on it’s own as kinks get worked out, or if it’s a long term thing

    On day 1, you truly have no clue whether it will still be around in a month, even if no blogger posts about it. It could’ve very easily gone away whether people posted about it or not.

    Obviously the fact that it was still around 4/29 means you ended up making the right call at the time, but you didn’t know at the time it would still be around

    Moving onto TPG though, he is truly a real jerk. Once it’s been around an entire month, you can probably safely assume that it isn’t going away for awhile so long as it doesn’t spread like wildfire. TPG knew full well when he posted it that he was about to kill a deal that would likely survive for a while if he didn’t feel the pathological need to grind out every last dollar of affiliate commissions

  37. Come on you people actually think Ben is trying to benefit everyone here? He just wants more publicity. Now that TPG posted the trick first, Ben felt the urge to do so.

  38. Ben,

    Thanks for your honesty in explaining the reasons behind posting this. Many of the negative comments here in this post confound me. So many people are self-righteous and demanding. I don’t think you should have to deal with this crap.

    Anyway… about booking now… I guess it would make sense to book a speculative trip now? Been thinking of a trip to Spain/Portugal next year and all the most convenient flights are BA thru LHR. If the dates don’t work out I can always cancel later? Is the refund policy on award tickets easy to find on US’ website? (haven’t yet done due diligence to search)



  39. I really object to the premise of some of these arguments and the attacks on the other blogger.

    Lucky and his peers are in the information business. It’s only a hobby when you are not deriving compensation from it. I am a consumer of information, via credit card applications, page views, and ad clicks.

    I expect bloggers not to withhold information, and am willing to reward those who consistently impart – and not withhold – information via CC apps, etc.

  40. Rob is spot on about TPG, or should I say, TPG Inc. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been intrigued by an article subject on his site, only to find a poorly researched analysis that barely skims the surface but always manages to include an affiliate link.

    Those who would question Lucky’s commitment to his readers need only browse through the thousands of entries on the Ask Lucky page.

  41. Remember folks… Lucky and all other bloggers out there don’t owe you a damn thing. If you don’t like what they post, how they post, etc., then don’t read their blog. Simple as that. Getting on here to whine and complain and throw a childish hissy fit won’t change anything. BUT… reasonable, unemotional, fair feedback is appropriate and will improve the quality of these blogs.

  42. @Matt

    Really? They don’t owe people anything? Piss a large proportion of your readership off and you won’t see the affiliate dough coming in anymore.

  43. @Matt

    Really? they don’t? Lucky get somewhere between $200-$500 for each of my credit card applications. Sometimes I do 6-8 at a time, few times a year, always use his links when it’s the best deal.
    I do it because I like his blog and I like that he’s responsive when I have a question. But to say they owe us NOTHING at all?
    Get real here.

  44. Lucky,

    Thanks for posting this – I agree with your logic given that several others made this public, and I appreciate you not wanting us to miss out.

    Honest question – where do you, Gary, and others who have known about this for the past month find out about this stuff? I read a handful of blogs each day and am on Flyertalk/Milepoint a decent amount, but this was news to me. Just wondering if there’s anything, in general, you could say about expanding my knowledgebase to put myself in a better position to find this stuff on my own earlier?

    Thanks for looking out for us!

  45. Dear bloggers, angry readers, & supportive readers:
    You are a bunch of idiots!

    The person who found out this “trick”

  46. @Andrew I can’t speak for Lucky but imagine he’s in the same position I am. We book a lot of award tickets so we’re on the phone with airlines all the time. The first time, you’re expecting a big YQ and it comes back without it. You’re like, whoa… that’s strange. And then you call again, and the award is priced without YQ again. And you realize quickly what’s going on.

    And it’s something we’ve mentioned a few times between each other because we know the other is in the exact same situation.

    In my own case, and as I mentioned on my blog, I wasn’t 100% sure the right answer of posting vs. not. There are strong opinions on both sides, I had some of the same arguments with myself. Ultimately I decided to hold off until it became public enough that a shutdown was inevitable already if it was going to happen at all.


  47. @Chris & @Lantean – Is anyone forcing you to read this blog? Are you paying anything to read it? Unless the answer to either of those questions is yes, Lucky (or any other blogger) doesn’t owe you a damn thing.

  48. @ Lucky – does US still allow to book awards only 335 days out? Probably going to miss on the fun 🙁

    Anyway, I should’ve known something was up when Lucky didn’t post a confirmation that US charges fees on BA 😉

    It’s tough to be in Gary’s and Lucky’s position (looks like they are getting hate from sides) but it’s pretty clear that once very a popular blog like TPG posted this, they had no chance but to follow (kind of how when someone breaks an embargo on a story/review, others do the same). Making their readers aware of this wouldn’t change the time it takes US to fix their systems.

  49. me me me ME!

    How DARE you don’t spoon-feed ME everything!

    Brain-dump to ME! NOW NOW NOW !


    (really folks, just how big is YOUR sense of entitlement?)

  50. @Lucky

    What do you think happens to tickets that are on hold in terms of fuel surcharge changes?

    Should I be worried because I have a ticket on hold which has a BA flight.

  51. I read all the comments. And for the first time I just realized that my blog has a true competitor for “Best Comments” 🙂

    This issue being discussed here has been THE thorniest issue to handle, that’s for sure. Whatever bloggers will do they can not please everyone. Fact of life. You do what is best for you and move on.

    Having said that, I hold TPG responsible for outing this to the mainstream. And this is why his blog is in my world famous “Blogs I Ignore” list and Ben & Gary’s blogs are not. I think they handled it fine.

    This could last longer than we think because, well ya know, US air systems just suck. If not, blame TPG lol

  52. No one will accuse me of being the biggest cheerleader for this blog, but I don’t think TPG did “more harm than good” here. Even if it causes US to move more quickly to eliminate this loophole, the net result is that more travelers will probably get to use the loophole.

    And I say that as somebody who is likely going to be screwed by this publicity, as I recently bought US miles with the intent of using them to fly BA. Sadly, I’m still a couple of weeks away from finalizing my travel dates (and with US’s OTHER fees, you want to have your travel plans firm before you redeem.

  53. Ben,

    Do all BA long haul flights have the new upgraded first class?? If not is there a way to tell (like LF)??



  54. @ grabamile — Could go either way, chances are they’ll calculate the taxes at the time of ticketing. Only way to be safe for sure is to ticket.

  55. @ Ivan Y — Correct, can’t book more than 335 days out, though can later change ticket as long as travel is complete within a year of the date of issue.

  56. @ Matt — You can cancel a ticket for a $150 redeposit fee, and then the miles and taxes will be refunded. That being said, if you were to later make a change and they were charging the fuel surcharges, you would likely have to pay them.

  57. I seem to remember reading about this in the comments section of a blog a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I don’t remember exactly where, but it was probably Lucky’s blog. This hasn’t been a huge secret by any means – I’m not at all an “insider,” don’t have any friends in the frequent flyer community, and rarely post on FT (though I do read FT a few times a week), and I did know about this.

    Also, for those who were really paying attention, this shouldn’t be totally shocking news. While bloggers had reported prior to March 31 that US *planned* to start assessing YQ on BA awards, I don’t think anyone had posted anything about it post-March 31, at least on the major blogs.

  58. @ Lucky – thank you! On a related note, any idea what are taxes & fees for a US award on Qantas? I could’ve sworn you’d mentioned it but blog search didn’t turn anything up.

  59. Definitely agree that Lucky can post when he wants and why. Also not convinced he “owes” us anything – we can choose to read this or not.

    And as far as the credit card links go, what we get in return is the card and the points from the offer – not sure he owes us something extra because he gets the fee. We all know how the game is played.

    @Kacee – EXACTLY!

  60. @Lucky

    So Ben, you asked me what I think you should have done. Here is my answer: the best thing to in this case would have been if after booking a few BA awards via US Air (maybe 3-5 days after it started) you could have written a post titled “My experience booking OneWorld awards with US Air miles” – without the exclamation marks or CAPS or anything like that. Just a simple title. In the post you could have mentioned your experiences and also say something like: “Good news is US Air has not figured out how to charge BA YQ yet” – give a few examples and leave it at that. Your LOYAL readers would have easily picked up on it without all the hysteria. People would have exchanged a few comments and everyone would have been happy.
    So here you have it.
    This all feels like Malaysia F awards again… you telling us that you’re the savior of the best deals by keeping them hidden from us! So if you feel you don’t owe us anything and you have no loyalty to us… do you expect us to be loyal to you? Is this a one way or a two way street? Can your blog go on without the credit card app referrals? Everyone will lose in the end.
    Anyhow, I don’t think we’ll agree here but I hope you understand that hiding deals from your readers doesn’t make you a hero.

  61. Lucky, thanks for sharing. I am surprised so many are giving you a hard time about sharing this information.

    For one, there is not a whole lot of award space available with British Airways anyhow. Besides New York and maybe one or two other east coast cities, BA does not release a whole lot of award space in premium cabins. And frankly, if I am flying Boston to London, I don’t really find the value to be all that great redeeming premium cabins for such a short flight. 120K for a F award that is almost the same duration as a trans continental flight.

    Thanks for sharing

  62. I see Lantean’s point. Lucky is free to write whatever he wishes but I don’t think he needs to spoonfeed his readers by stating the tip right away from the blog title. What Lantean mentioned is similar to what Canadian Kilometres did in his blog post on April 6th.
    BTW, what was the issue with Malaysia F awards? I recall Lucky wrote a post about how availability dried up but that was months ago.

  63. Booked two days ago DFW-IAD-LHR-NBO on AA/BA F (including A380) and NBO-DOH-LHR-IAD-DFW back on QR J/F and BA F (including A380) for $177 in taxes/fees. Good deal indeed 🙂

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