British Airways Reduces Award Fuel Surcharges… Slightly…

British Airways is notorious for their outrageously high fuel surcharges, which are only exacerbated by the hefty UK Air Passenger Duty (APD), which applies if you have travel originating in the UK. While oil prices have dropped, for the most part fuel surcharges haven’t. Why? The most simple answer is because the airlines can… no one is holding them accountable.

Anyway, Head for Points notes that British Airways has lowered their fuel surcharges on longhaul award tickets.

Earlier in the week British Airways lowered fuel surcharges as follows:

  • The fuel surcharges on roundtrip longhaul economy class flights was reduced from £229 to £209
  • The fuel surcharges on roundtrip longhaul premium class flights was reduced from £359 to £329

Pay less in fuel surcharges for British Airways award tickets

Here’s the catch — British Airways only lowered fuel surcharges for travel originating in the UK, and not for travel originating in the US.

For example, take a look at a roundtrip first class ticket from San Francisco to London. The fuel surcharges are $904 roundtrip:


Meanwhile for a roundtrip first class ticket from London to San Francisco, the fuel surcharges are £329 (~$495). So the roundtrip fuel surcharges are almost twice as high when originating in the US than when originating in the UK.


While it’s normal for fares as such to differ depending on where you originate, it’s especially frustrating when fuel surcharges differ so much between the same cities.

As I’ve explained in the past, though, there is a workaround for lowering fuel surcharges when originating in the US. Simply book a roundtrip award ticket as two one-ways rather than as a roundtrip. That’s because when you book them as one-ways, for each direction they charge you half of the fuel surcharges that would be imposed if originating in that place.

As you saw above, for a roundtrip between San Francisco and London in first class the fuel surcharges are $904.

So a San Francisco to London one-way award would cost you $452 in fuel surcharges (half of $904):


Meanwhile for a London to San Francisco ticket you’d only pay $248 in fuel surcharges, which is half of what you’d be charged originating in the UK:


Bottom line

It’s nice that British Airways slightly reduced their fuel surcharges, though the drop in fuel surcharges bares no resemblance to the drop in oil prices. So while it’s slightly good news, I do find it ridiculous that they only reduced fuel surcharges for travel originating in the UK, and not for travel originating in the US.

Even though fuel surcharges haven’t been lowered out of the US, the above is a nice trick to save ~$200 in fuel surcharges on a roundtrip business or first class British Airways award originating in the US.


  1. Meanwhile the minor savings off the fuel ripoff is hugely offset by the additional $9790 charged for the one way ticket.

  2. I’ve tried doing the two separate one-way ticket thing, but that makes each one-way fare so ridiculously high that the fuel surcharges end up looking miniscule. Am I doing something wrong?

    Also, in the LON-SFO-LON itinerary above, yes the fuel surcharges are lower, but looks like they make up for it in bumping up the base fare (£8,426 = ~ $12,600… about $600 more than the SFO-LON-SFO). No big surprise there I guess…

  3. @ Arun — Correct, to be clear this refers specifically to award tickets and not revenue tickets. We’re talking about airlines that charge half as much for one-way awards as they do for roundtrip awards.

  4. @ M Simons — Right, in this case we’re talking about award tickets and not revenue tickets, though, so the base fare is irrelevant.

  5. @ eponymous coward — Yep, if by OS you mean OpenSkies, fees are definitely more reasonable than out of Heathrow. The Orly to Newark flight seems to come with a total of ~$330 in taxes/fees.

  6. It looks like the trick will not work if you are using the two-for-one certificates, assuming you want a round trip. Is that right or is there a way to make it work with the certificates?

  7. Lucky – maybe part of the thinking here is that the UK APD makes UK departures uncompetitive and forces them to have to reduce the carrier charges by an equal amount. The total amount of the carrier charges and APD closely approximate the US charges on one-way basis, but of course the logic fails on round trips that turn in London because everyone APD. I guess BA is not feeling the need to correct the logic in their RM program.

    Still ridiculous though!

  8. @ Frank — Not going to happen unless there’s still award availability, and you’re a top tier elite so you can rebook for free. Ultimately you’re taking your chances when you book a ticket, so similarly if the fuel surcharges went up you wouldn’t have to pay the price difference.

  9. I can live with their rotten in Demark fuel surcharges
    What I can’t live with is their disgusting food in their lounges and on board in First class
    They have become inferior in First class in dining
    Flew Qantas in First this week and they buried BA
    I do like the BA seat and their nice flight attendants but I think Emirates Qantas Ethiad Singapore and others will continue to eat their lunch as BA penny pinches on many levels while still
    Charging their nuisance fuel charge fees
    With their new redemption scheme annouced I will be unlikely to fly them revenue or award based on their lackluster performance

  10. Lucky – I was looking at the pricing logic one way as that tends to be more revealing. Adding the extra logic to the roundtrip seems to be too much effort for them to invest in and people continue to fly them regardless.

  11. Given it is an election year in the UK the government wants to be seen to be championing the interests of voters. The Treasury have been warning airlines of possible action if they fail to reduce their charges. This may explain why the change has only been made for UK-originating tickets.

  12. @Lucky

    What are the fuel charges lets say on AA away if you originate in Europe? So lets say you fly in J WAW-LHR on BA then connect to EY to AUH? Would you save on alot of taxes and fuel surcharges since the travel originates in WAW?

  13. We have just incurred British Airways con of charging MORE Fuel Surcharge on a return Award flight booking to and from Miami – charging us nearly DOUBLE for the return leg that for the outbound flight.
    Because of the scarcity and difficulty in getting Award flight bookings to and from Miami, we staying up until 1am each time to get seats on the flights we wanted. BA would not then combine these into a single booking, so instead of paying £289 each for a return booking we have been charge £144.50 each in Fuel Surcharge for the outbound flight and then £268.90 each for the return flight – giving a total of £413.40 each in Fuel Surcharges and a tidy extra profit for BA, as they would have used the same fuel whichever way the booking was done !!!

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