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I hate fuel surcharges with a passion. Right behind fuel surcharges are close-in fees. Nothing hurts more than watching the taxes and fees pile on when you try to redeem your miles. Avoiding fuel surcharges is something I always try to do when redeeming miles.
British Airways is the poster child when it comes to collecting fuel surcharges (YQ) on award tickets. Theirs are some of the worst across the board. Take this SFO-LHR “award” for example:
A whopping 62,500 Avios and $480?!? No way. Not even for business. There are so many other better options available. I hope no one seriously takes BA up on these so-called “awards.” (ALSO: How can fuel surcharges cost MORE THAN A PAID TICKET?!?!)
Contrasting the ridiculousness above are a few true gems. Is there any rhyme or reason to which BA routes have high YQ and which don’t? Kinda. Actually, not really. More actually…it would take me too long to explain, and it would be little more than speculation.
So let’s just cut to the chase and explore the precious few routes that demonstrate (mostly) avoiding fuel surcharges is actually possible when redeeming Avios on British Airways flights.
Avoiding Fuel Surcharges: Low YQ BA Routes
- Hong Kong to London – A nonstop flight in economy is a mere 19,500 Avios and $36.10 on BA metal during the off-peak period. Premium economy is 39,000 and the same in fees. Even business class is tempting for 75,000 Avios and $38.68, if you have the Avios to burn. Do note that this only works in one direction. The LHR-HKG option will run you $373 in fees.
- Tokyo to London – This flight prices out in the same zone as the previous one from Hong Kong. During off-peak periods, a business-class award requires 75,000 Avios and a mere $24 in fees. Economy and premium economy are reasonable as well.
- Rio de Janeiro to London – This prices out in the same zone as the previous two tickets. Economy between South America and Europe is a steal at 19,500 miles off-peak, while business requires 75,000 miles. All award tickets and only require $30-35 in fees.
- São Paulo to London – Same as Rio. Brazilians get a real break on BA.
BA Routes with Moderate YQ
These routes have moderate fees, and some only make sense if you’re willing to burn the Avios on a premium, while others only make sense in economy. In many cases, you will be better off paying cash or redeeming other miles. But there could be some value here:
- Doha to London – This one makes the list because it is a decent nonstop option for a business-class award, which will set you back 50,000 Avios plus $100 in fees. I would avoid an economy redemption since you can book a cash ticket on a fare sale for just twice what you’d pay in fees anyway. Business tickets in other currencies are often cheaper, but if you have Avios to burn…
- Cape Town to London – I only mention this because British Airways offers the only nonstop service between these two cities, and an economy award requires a mere 16,250 Avios one-way. You’ll have to fork over $168 in fees, however. Cash fares run about $900 roundtrip, so you can find some value here. Off-peak business-class isn’t really a deal. It requires 62,500 Avios and about $200 in fees.
- Mexico City to London – If you value non-stop flights, this is a decent option. A ticket in Y rings in at only 16,250 Avios one-way (half of most other award charts), but $232 in fees. A non-stop round trip is usually $1,000-$1,300. Positioning obviously doesn’t make sense, but if you live in Mexico…
- There are a few others, but the value begin to decrease rapidly.
BA Routes with High YQ
Essentially every other long-haul route, especially anything between the United State and Europe. Don’t even bother. I think British Airways is simply out to hose us Americans.
It’s unfortunate that there are no great options leaving the U.S. I think BA has done this on purpose. Any economy ticket requires at least $200 in YQ, and business-class redemptions are often well over $400. Why fuel surcharges go up for premium cabins is beyond me. It’s not like it requires more fuel to transport the person in J then the person in Y.
I hope these options get your wheels turning for some potential redemptions using Avios on British Airways long-haul. There are only a few real gems, but several other routes could still provide decent value. If you find any other great BA routes for avoiding fuel surcharges, please let me know!
On which low-YQ route could you see yourself using Avios for a BA award ticket?
Header image courtesy of BriYYZ under creative commons 2.0 license.
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Fuel surcharge is such a disingenuous name for these fees.
How about “airline money grab” 🙂
I’m no defender of these spurious fees but I do need to take issue with your statement “its not like it takes more fuel to transport someone in J and Y”. Of *course* it uses more fuel to transport one person in the space that could be occupied by thee or four people. Like, 3x or 4x as much!
Haha….I’ve never thought of it that way. I simply thought of person body weight, assuming person in J weighs the same as person in Y. But I can see your point, that more fuel is required to transport that J seat, its food, and all the staff that serve it.
Of course that J seat also COSTS more than the Y seat not counting the extra airline money grab I mean fuel surcharge