Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 3 – Taxes and Fees

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Update: Beginning February 2, 2016, British Airways will no longer offer 1-way, short-haul (under 650 miles) coach award tickets on partner airlines in North America for 4,500 British Airways Avios points.  Instead these flights will cost 7,500 British Airways Avios points.

I get a lot of questions on British Airways Avios points, and started a series on how to use British Airways Avios points 2 years ago and finally finished writing it.

Some folks dislike British Airways Avios points because of high taxes and fees.  That is true for some award tickets, but not all award tickets.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay High Fuel Surcharges Using British Airways Avios Points on SOME Award Tickets, but There Are Times You Can Avoid Them

I’ll show you the best ways to avoid taxes and fees for different award tickets using British Airways Avios points.

Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro:

Why Some Avios Award Tickets Have High Taxes and Fees

Although you’ll usually pay high taxes and fees on award tickets using British Airways Avios points, you can avoid them if you:

  • Do NOT fly in or out of London
  • Do NOT fly from the United Kingdom
  • Do NOT fly on British Airways using British Airways Avios points (except within Europe)
  • It’s NOT worth using British Airways Avios points for coach award tickets because the fees are about the same as a cash ticket.  But it MAY be worth it to fly Business Class or First Class because you’ll pay ~$1,100 in taxes for a $3,500+ flight.

Many folks assume that because they have British Airways Avios points, they should use their points on British Airways flights.  However, British Airways charges high fuel surcharges on award tickets.

And British Airways’ main hub at London Heathrow airport (LHR) is notorious for having high passenger taxes!

This combination can lead to some shock when you price an award ticket!

For example, to book a round-trip Business Class award ticket between New York and London, you would pay 80,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$1,172 in taxes!  Ouch!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay ~$1,172 in Taxes and Fees Flying From New York to London on British Airways

1.   Air Passenger Duty Tax

Breaking down the taxes shows the following:

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

~$343 of the Fees Are Government, Authority, and Airport Charges

The “Government, authority and airport charges” are taxes charged on any airline for a round-trip ticket between New York and London.  These are not unique to British Airways, so you’ll pay them flying on any airline.

The Air Passenger Duty is a tax charged to all passengers departing the United Kingdom.  On a Business Class flight to the United States, the tax is ~$221.

The amount of the Air Passenger Duty depends on 2 factors:

  • The country you are traveling to from the United Kingdom (the further away the destination country, the higher the tax).
  • You pay half the rate for a coach ticket, but the full rate for Premium Coach, Business Class, or First Class.

If you booked the same flight in coach, the Air Passenger Duty would be half the cost.

You can avoid the Air Passenger Duty by departing Europe from another country, even if London is your connecting city.

For example, you would NOT pay the Air Passenger Duty on an award ticket from Amsterdam to New York via London because you aren’t departing the United Kingdom, only connecting through it.  You are allowed connections under 24 hours before the duty is charged.

2.   Fuel Surcharges

The remaining $828 in taxes and fees are a fuel surcharge from British Airways.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

British Airways Charges $828 in Fuel Surcharges for This Ticket!

So you’ll pay British Airways a “carrier imposed charge” of $828 to redeem your British Airways Avios points in Business Class between New York and London.  This would NOT be charged by many other frequent flyer programs, like United Airlines or Delta Airlines.

Some folks may still think it’s worth it because 80,000 British Airways Avios points + ~$1,172 in taxes gets a $3,500 Business Class award seat.  However, British Airways Avios points are NOT worth it for coach award seats on the same flight.

That’s because the same flights between New York and London booked in coach would cost 40,000 British Airways Avios points + ~$688!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay 40,000 British Airways Avios Points AND ~$688 for a Round-Trip Coach Ticket

But if you bought a ticket, it would cost ~$870!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Could Pay ~$870 to Fly From New York to London Without Spending Any British Airways Avios Points

So your 40,000 British Airways Avios points are worth only ~$182 (~$870 paid ticket – ~$688 surcharges on award ticket), or ~0.46 cents per point ($182 fare difference / 40,000 British Airways Avios points).  This isn’t a very good value.

When Are Avios Fees Lower?

1.   No Late Booking Fees and Low Cancellation Fees

Unlike some programs, British Airways does NOT have late booking fees and has low cancellation fees.

Some airlines charge an extra fee if you book a ticket close to the date of arrival.  For example, if you used American Airlines miles or United Airlines miles within 21 days of departure, you have to pay $75.  And on some airlines (like Alaska Airlines) award tickets have to be booked at least 24 hours in advance.

But, British Airways does NOT have any late booking fees!

British Airways charges only $40 to cancel an award ticket (compared to $150 for American Airlines or $200 for United Airlines!).

However, some British Airways Avios award tickets can be cancelled for almost free.  For example, a 1-way coach award ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles costs 4,500 British Airways Avios points plus ~$6 in taxes.  If you cancel this ticket on the British Airways website, your 4,500 British Airways Avios points will be refunded, but NOT the ~$6 in taxes.

So the cancellation fee is only ~$6 (or the price of your taxes).  If you paid less than $40 in taxes and fees and can cancel your award ticket online, your cancellation fee will be less than the usual $40.

2.   Infant Fares

If you have a child who is under 2 years of age, you can book an “infant-in-arm” fare for only 10% of the adult British Airways Avios price.  Most airlines charge 10% of the paid cash fare, which could be $2,000 for your child on a $20,000 First Class award ticket.

How to Pay Fewer Taxes and Fees With British Airways Avios Points

British Airways is a part of the oneworld alliance, and has many partners that do NOT charge fuel surcharges, or charge a very low amount.  You can use British Airways Avios points on these partners and sometimes pay lower taxes and fees.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay Lower Taxes and Fees on Many oneworld Partner Airlines

Some partners have fuel surcharges while others don’t. I’ll explain each airline’s policies, but in general, to avoid high fuel surcharges, use British Airways Avios points on:

How You Can Check Taxes & Fees

When you search for a British Airways Avios ticket on the British Airways website (sign-in required), British Airways shows you the following page with the price.

Under “Taxes, fees and carrier charges per person,” you can click the information box (the “i” icon) to see the taxes and fees being charged.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Click the “i” to See the Taxes and Fees Charged

The British Airways website shows “Government, authority and airport charges,” which are taxes charged by entities other than the airline.  British Airways collects the taxes and passes them on to the government or airport.

The British Airways website also shows “British Airways fees and carrier charges, which is a nice way of saying “fuel surcharges.”  You do NOT pay fuel surcharges if you use American Airlines miles.  But you would pay fuel surcharges on award tickets on British Airways or Iberia using American Airlines miles.

1.   American Airlines

British Airways Avios points are a great option for most American Airlines award tickets because American Airlines does NOT add fuel surcharges on most of its routes.

No Fuel Surcharges Using British Airways Avios Points on American Airlines Flights in the Western Hemisphere

Domestic flights (including Hawaii) have NO fuel surcharges.  You’ll pay ~$6 in taxes per flight.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Flights to Hawaii on American Airlines Have No Fuel Surcharges!

Flights to South America and the Caribbean have NO fuel surcharges.  But you have to pay international taxes and fees.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Won’t Pay Fuel Surcharges When You Fly to St. John in the Caribbean

However, they are NOT a great option on American Airlines flights between the US and Europe or between the US and Asia because you WILL be charged fuel surcharges on these flights.

Flights to Asia DO have fuel surcharges.  For example, a flight from Dallas to Seoul on American Airlines includes ~$174 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Would Pay Some Fuel Surcharges (~$174) on an American Airlines Flight to Asia

You would NOT pay this surcharge and only pay ~$6 in taxes if you used American Airlines miles.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

If You Use American Airlines Miles, You Won’t Pay Fuel Surcharges on a Flight to Asia

But flights to Europe DO have fuel surcharges.  For example, a flight from Raleigh to London includes ~$253 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

British Airways Charges Fuel Surcharges on American Airlines Flights to Europe

You would NOT pay this surcharge if you used American Airlines miles.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

American Airlines Does NOT Charge Fuel Surcharges on the Same Flight!

2.   US Airways

Domestic flights do NOT have fuel surcharges, so you do NOT pay them when you use British Airways Avios points on US Airways award tickets.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay ~$6 in Taxes and Fees for a Flight From Lihue, Hawaii, to Phoenix

Although, flights to Europe DO have fuel surcharges.  For example, a flight from Charlotte to London costs 20,000 British Airways Avios points plus ~$255 in taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

If You Use British Airways Avios Points to Book a Flight From Charlotte to London, You’ll Pay 20,000 Avios Plus ~$255

Of the ~$255 in fees, ~$229 are fuel surcharges!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Most of the Fees Are From the Fuel Surcharges

However, if you booked the same flight using American Airlines miles or US Airways miles during peak season, you would pay 30,000 miles but only ~$6 in taxes.  And you could add connecting flights to Charlotte for no additional charge.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

American Airlines Charges 30,000 Miles Plus Only ~$6 for the Same Flight

Flights to South America have NO fuel surcharges.  US Airways flies to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil from Charlotte.  You do NOT pay fuel surcharges if you book using British Airways Avios points!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Won’t Pay Fuel Surcharge Flying From Charlotte to Sao Paulo, Brazil

3.   Air Berlin

Air Berlin is a great option for flying between the US and Europe because they do NOT charge fuel surcharges.

For example, a 1-way coach award ticket from New York to Dusseldorf costs 20,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$3 in taxes!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Only 20,000 British Airways Avios + ~$3 1-Way From New York to Germany on Air Berlin!

For the return flight from Dusseldorf to New York, you would pay 20,000 British Airways Avios points plus ~$103 in taxes.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay More in Taxes for the Return Trip From Dusseldorf to New York

Why are taxes over $100 more leaving Europe than going to Europe?  The reason is government and airport fees.  The fees are the same for every airline ticket (award or paid ticket).  So you do NOT pay extra taxes or fees by booking with British Airways Avios points.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay Higher Taxes Returning From Europe Regardless of the Airline You Fly

4.   British Airways (Reward Flight Savers)

Although British Airways usually adds high fuel surcharges, there are some intra-European routes where British Airways actually charges lower fees than other programs.

You can redeem Reward Flight Saver award tickets IF you have earned at least 1 Avios point in the past 12 months.  Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios points counts as activity.  So you can access Reward Flight Savers tickets.

But Reward Flight Savers routes are only allowed on British Airways flights within Europe (see map).

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Can Book Reward Flight Saver Award Tickets Within This Region

You pay the normal amount of British Airways Avios points and ~18 pounds (~$30) for a 1-way coach award ticket, or 25 pounds (~$42) for a 1-way award ticket in Business Class.  This covers all taxes and fees.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

British Airways Pays the Taxes and Fees When You Redeem a Reward Flight Saver Award Ticket

This can be a good option if you need award seats between European cities.  For example, you would pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points and ~$28 for a 1-way ticket from Edinburgh to Rome.  On international itineraries, connections within the United Kingdom are included in the British Airways Avios price of a ticket, so Edinburgh to Rome via London is just 1 British Airways Avios price.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

A 1-Way Reward Saver Ticket From Edinburgh to Rome Costs 7,500 Avios Plus $28

Meanwhile, American Airlines would charge 10,000 American Airlines miles and the normal amount of taxes, ~$120.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay More Miles AND Fees If You Book With American Airlines Miles

5.   Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific can be useful for:

  • Flights between the US and Asia
  • Flights within Asia
  • Flights from New York (JFK) to Vancouver, Canada

Cathay Pacific updates their current fuel surcharges each month, and splits them into whether a flight is long-haul or short-haul.

You’ll pay ~$120 in extra fuel surcharges for a flight between Hong Kong, China, and:

  • North America
  • Europe
  • South Pacific
  • India
  • Middle East
  • Africa
British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay Surcharges Flying From Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific

For short flights from Hong Kong to other parts of Asia, you’ll pay ~$30 extra in fuel surcharges.  These fuel surcharges are cumulative.  So if you book a flight from the US to Bangkok, Thailand with a connection in Hong Kong you’ll pay ~$150 in fuel surcharges (~$120 fuel surcharge fee for flights between the US and Asia + ~$30 fuel surcharge fee for flights from Hong Kong).

Because shorter flights cost fewer British Airways Avios points, a lower mileage price can make up for the extra ~$30 paid on intra-Asia tickets.

For example, a 1-way coach ticket from Tokyo, Japan, to Hong Kong, China, costs 10,000 British Airways Avios points + ~$55 in taxes.  Of those taxes, ~$29 are fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay ~$29 in Fuel Surcharges on a Ticket From Tokyo, Japan, to Hong Kong, China

However, the same flight would cost 20,000 American Airlines miles + $25 in taxes.  Many folks would pay ~$29 to save 10,000 American Airlines miles which are worth at least $100.

6.   Finnair

You can NOT search for Finnair flights from the US to Europe on the British Airways’ website, you have to call British Airways at 800-452-1201.  After calling, it costs ~$258 in fuel surcharges for a 1-way coach award ticket from New York to Helsinki, Finland and ~$458 in fuel surcharges for a 1-way Business Class award ticket.  You would NOT pay fuel surcharges using American Airlines miles which lets you book Finnair award tickets online.

7.   Iberia

Iberia has lots of coach award seats available, especially from the East Coast to Madrid, Spain.  However, British Airways charges full fuel surcharges on Iberia flights.

So a 1-way coach award ticket from New York to Madrid, Spain costs 20,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$272 in taxes, which includes ~$248 of fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay ~$272 in Taxes and Fees Using British Airways Avios Points on Iberia From New York to Madrid

However, Avios is also the points currency for Iberia.  If you have an Iberia account that is at least 90 days old, you can transfer Avios points at a 1:1 ratio from your British Airways Avios account to your Iberia Avios account.  So it’s a good idea to open an Iberia frequent flyer account to take advantage of this in the future.

That’s because Iberia charges only 40 euros (~$54) in fuel surcharges on their own flights.  While British Airways charges ~$248 for the same flight.  That’s a difference of ~$200 per 1-way ticket (~$248 in fuel surcharges charged by British Airways – ~$54 in fuel surcharges charged by Iberia)!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Iberia’s Fuel Surcharges Are Much Lower, so Transfer Your Avios to Their Frequent Flyer Program First!

8.   Japan Airlines (JAL)

You’ll pay higher fuel surcharges on Japan Airlines than Cathay Pacific.  For example, you’ll pay ~$262 in fuel surcharges for a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, Japan, and ~$68 from Tokyo, Japan, to Hong Kong (~$38 more than Cathay Pacific’s ~$30 fuel surcharge for the same route).

However, Japan Airlines does NOT charge fuel surcharges on intra-Japan flights.  So a domestic Japan flight, like Tokyo to Osaka, costs only 4,500 British Airways Avios points + ~$2 (cheaper taxes than a domestic US flight!).

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Intra-Japan Flights Only Cost 4,500 British Airways Avios Points Plus ~$2

9.   LAN

LAN does NOT charge fuel surcharges on their award tickets, which makes them a great option for flights to and within South America.

LAN is the only airline that flies to Easter Island.  They fly to Easter Island a few months of the year from Santiago, Chile, and Tahiti, as well as from Lima, Peru.  A 1-way coach ticket from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island is only 12,500 British Airways Avios points, or 25,000 British Airways Avios points for a Business Class ticket, with minimal taxes!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay a Small Amount of Taxes on LAN Flights, but NO Fuel Surcharge

You would pay 37,500 American Airlines miles to fly 1-way coach to Easter Island because American Airlines considers Peru and Chile in a different region than Easter Island.  So having British Airways Avios points really helps!

10.   Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia Airlines flies to Asia and a few cities in Europe.  They do NOT fly to the US.

To book a connecting flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Mumbai, India, or the Maldives, you would pay ~$122 in fuel surcharges for coach or $140 in fuel surcharges for Business Class.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay $140 in Fuel Surcharges From Kuala Lumpur to the Maldives on Malaysia Airlines

However, shorter routes within Asia have minimal or no fuel surcharges.  For example, you would pay NO fuel surcharges for a coach or Business Class award ticket between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Bali, Indonesia!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Won’t Pay Fuel Surcharges on Shorter Asia Flights on Malaysia Airlines

11.   Qantas

Qantas flies non-stop from Los Angeles and Dallas to Australia.  You can also fly from New York (JFK) via Los Angeles to Australia.

You’ll pay $340 in fuel surcharges for a 1-way coach ticket from the US to Australia using British Airways Avios points.

For example, a 1-way coach award ticket from New York to Sydney, Australia costs 50,000 British Airways Avios points plus ~$392, which includes $340 in fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay ~$400 in Fees Flying From New York to Sydney, Australia on Qantas Using British Airways Avios Points

Note:   Although the flight from New York to Sydney, Australia stops in Los Angeles, you pay for only 1 flight because the flight number stays the same.  This means it costs the same amount of British Airways Avios points to fly from New York to Sydney, Australia, via Los Angeles as it does to fly Los Angeles to Sydney, Australia.

But You do NOT pay the $340 fuel surcharge using American Airlines miles!

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Only Pay ~$27 Using American Airlines Miles Flying on Qantas

And flights within Australia and to nearby destinations, such as New Zealand, also do NOT have fuel surcharges.  So you only pay minimal fees using British Airways Avios points or American Airlines miles.

Note:   The British Airways website does NOT show all Qantas short flights (like Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, flights operated by JetConnect).  You have to call British Airways at 800-452-1201 to book these flights.

12.   Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is a newer member of the oneworld alliance and is based in the Middle East.  They DO add fuel surcharges.

For example, a 1-way coach ticket from New York to Doha, Qatar, costs 35,000 British Airways Avios points plus ~$247, which includes $221 in fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay High Fuel Surcharges Flying Qatar Airways From New York to Doha, Qatar

You’ll pay 45,000 American Airline miles and $26 in taxes for the same flight.  So you’ll pay 10,000 more miles but save $221 (~$247 in fees using British Airways Avios points – $26 in fees using American Airlines miles).

Qatar also has fuel surcharges on regional flights, such as $88 for a 1-way award ticket between Doha, Qatar, and Mumbai, India.

13.   Royal Jordanian

Royal Jordanian adds fuel surcharges on some flights, but they can be different for the same route depending on which direction you fly.

For example, a 1-way flight from New York to Amman, Jordan costs ~$228 in taxes, which includes $199 in fuel surcharges for coach and Business Class.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

30,000 British Airways Avios Points Plus ~$228 for New York to Amman in Coach, Including $199 in Fuel Surcharges

However, flying from Amman, Jordan, to New York you’ll pay ~$354 in taxes, which includes ~$249 in fuel surcharges in both coach and Business Class.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

60,000 British Airways Avios Points Plus ~$354 for Amman to New York in Business Class, Including ~$249 in Fuel Surcharges

If you are going to connect elsewhere in the region, certain routes have fuel surcharges as well.  For example, Amman, Jordan, to Mumbai, India, includes ~$150 in fuel surcharges.

However, Royal Jordanian fuel surcharges are not necessarily cummulative.  For example, if you booked New York to Amman, Jordan, and Amman, Jordan, to Mumbai, India, separately, you would pay $350 in fuel surcharges.

But if you book New York to Mumbai, India, via Amman, Jordan, you pay only ~$220 in fuel surcharges.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay Less Fuel Surcharges Flying New York to Mumbai, India, With a Connection in Amman, Jordan, Than Booking Those Flights Separately

You’ll pay fuel surcharges on flights to Mumbai, India.  But flights from Mumbai, India (and Delhi, India) do NOT have fuel surcharges.

So you’ll pay 42,500 British Airways Avios points plus $70 in taxes to fly coach from Mumbai or Delhi to New York on Royal Jordanian.  And it costs 85,000 British Airways Avios points plus $70 in taxes to fly Business Class, which is the same amount of tax as American Airlines.  Flying coach class, you’ll pay fewer British Airways Avios points than American Airlines miles.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Do NOT Pay Fuel Surcharges When You Fly From Delhi, India, to the US

This makes British Airways Avios points a decent option if you are returning from India to the US, and Royal Jordanian award seats are available.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You Won’t Pay Fuel Surcharges on Royal Jordanian Flying FROM India

14.   S7 Airlines

S7 Airlines is based in Moscow, Russia.  While their routes are limited, they do NOT add fuel surcharges to British Airways Avios points award tickets.  This means you pay the normal amount of taxes for award tickets.

Usually you pay less than $10 in taxes for flights within Russia.  For example, a 1-way flight from Moscow, Russia, to Sochi, Russia, costs 7,500 British Airways Avios points + ~$9.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Only Pay ~$9 in Fees for Flights Within Russia Booked With British Airways Avios Points

Although, you can also book S7 Airlines with American Airlines miles, American Airlines does not allow award tickets to Siberia/Eastern Russia.

Destinations in Eastern Russia (east of the Ural Mountains) include Barnaul, Bratsk, Chita, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Kurgan, Nizhnevartovsk, Novokuznetsk, Novy Urengoy, Nadym, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Surgut, Tomsk, Ulan-ude, Blagoveshchensk, Magadan, Khabarovsk, Norilsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Vladivostok, Yakutsk

But you CAN book flights to these destinations with British Airways Avios points for minimal extra cost.  Moscow, Russia, to Novosibirsk, Russia, can NOT be booked with American Airlines miles, but you can use 10,000 British Airways Avios points plus ~$9.

15.   SriLankan Airlines

SriLankan Airlines is a newer member of the oneworld alliance and is based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  One of the best uses of SriLankan Airlines miles is for flights to the Maldives.

If you use British Airways Avios points on SriLankan Airlines, you pay minimal fuel surcharges, usually ~$5 to ~$6 per flight.

For example, you can book a coach award flight from the Maldives to Colombo, for 4,500 British Airways Avios points plus $30.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

You’ll Pay Just 4,500 British Airways Avios Points Plus $30 to Fly Between the Maldives and Sri Lanka

Of the $30 in taxes, only $5 is fuel surcharges.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all fuel surcharges were this low?

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

Only $5 Fuel Surcharge on SriLankan Airlines Using British Airways Avios Points

16.   TAM

TAM, headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil, is the newest member of the oneworld alliance.  They fly to many cities throughout South America, a few destinations in Europe, and fly non-stop between Brazil and New York, Orlando, and Miami.

TAM does NOT add fuel surcharges to British Airways Avios points award bookings.  For example, a 1-way coach award ticket between Miami and Sao Paulo, Brazil, costs 25,000 British Airways Avios points plus $5.

British Airways Avios Part 3 Taxes And Fees

TAM Doesn’t Add Fuel Surcharges to British Airways Avios Point Bookings

17.   Aer Lingus

You’ll pay fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus, although they are less than British Airways.  Aer Lingus flies from Boston to Dublin, which is under 3,000 miles distance.  So you’d pay 25,000 British Airways Avios points to fly round-trip in coach or 50,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip in Business Class, plus ~$125 in taxes and fees total.  That’s not bad!

18.   Alaska Airlines

You do NOT pay fuel surcharges on Alaska Airlines.  Despite its name, Alaska Airlines flies to many cities from the West Coast to Hawaii and Mexico.  Their taxes and fees are comparable to American Airlines’ taxes and fees for domestic awards tickets.

Bottom Line

You’ll pay high taxes and fuel surcharges on some British Airways Avios points award ticket redemptions, but not all.

Using British Airways Avios points for British Airways flights is usually very expensive, except on some intra-European flights (but you’ll still pay some fees).

The best way to avoid fees using British Airways Avios points is by redeeming them for flights on partner airlines that do NOT charge fuel surcharges.  American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines are all good options for US flights.  And some international partners have minimal or no fuel surcharges as well.

Next we’ll look at other ways you can redeem British Airways Avios points!

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16 responses to “Book British Airways Award Flights Like a Pro: Part 3 – Taxes and Fees

  1. Amazing post. I read every word of it (and hope to put it in practice).

  2. Thank you for doing a series on British Airways. I was looking up flights from Seoul’s GMP airport to Osaka (KIX) airport and found that there are nonstop flights on Asiana, Korea, and JAL. Since JAL is in oneWorld I thought it would be good to use Avios since it is a short trip. However when I search British Airways site errors out for flights between Seoul and Osaka. I thought British Airways was supposed to be good at searching for partner award availability. Should I instead search JAL and pay the $20 fee to book British Airways on the phone?

  3. @Cynthia: I happen to be looking for similar regional flights between Japan and Korea, so I decided to attempt your search myself. Obviously, I don’t know your intended travel date(s), and substituted my own tentative date instead, March 1st 2015. The ba.com website did come up with JL flight 974 (GMP-KIX), for 4,500 Avios and $54 in taxes. According to Matrix, it’s a $269 flight, so you’d get a value of 4.78 cpm out of your Avios. Not too shabby! The site may just have been experiencing a glitch when you tried, or it may be that there is no availability on your dates, but that looks different than purely erroring out. Hope this helps!

  4. I also noticed that most or all of the graphics/screenshots date back to when this series was first published in April 2012 (check out the date on Pt. 1, which wasn’t re-posted/updated), so for example the TSA fee is still shown as $2.50/segment when it’s now $5.60 regardless of # of segments within the U.S. Not a big deal in itself, but that’s only one tax/fee change and there have surely been others. Still the overall point is valid and this is valuable information to put out there, so a periodic recycle with or without a major update is still useful. Still, FWIW as a recent data point, I booked a JAL flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo Haneda (HND) a month from today for 15,000 Avios and $37 in fees, as opposed to the $68 that’s suggested in the write-up. The reason why it was 15K instead of 10K is that only Premium Economy was available on the date I needed the flight, but I don’t mind. The AmEx MR 40% bonus currently running made up for most of that, and I got $1,500 of value (net of the $37 in fees) out of those points, so right around 10 cpm!

    I also booked a regular coach flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific for 7,500 and $32 in fees. Its price would have been about $680 if memory serves, so I got about 8.67 cpm out of that redemption.

  5. One final chime-in from me for now: I’m currently looking at flights from Bali or Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia, as noted, is the operator that handles those routes for which you can use BA Avios. CGK-KUL is pricing out at 7,500 Avios and $50, and oddly DPS-KUL is pricing at 10,000 and $0.00! I can’t say I’ve ever seen an award with absolutely zero fees, and it might not hold up once I go further, but maybe the Indo. govt. has nullified fees for Bali for tourism reasons? I may post a follow-up once I decide whether to also go to Jakarta, and in which order to do the stops. I’m waiting for some Chase UR points to transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer to fly into Indo. either way, so I can’t pull the trigger just yet. Getting pretty excited about this trip though….

  6. Appreciate the write-up but I’m finding a very different experience in trying to use BA’s flight finder and don’t see many details about Alaska (the partner I’m interested in) in the post above. Hoping somebody can weigh in. In looking at Alaska flights they have a number of daily flights between SJC and various Hawaiian airports (LIH, e.g.). But when I look on BA for a one-way SJC->LIH it’s returning 0 results. I’ve tried probably 10 different dates on different days of the week and spread out from ~3 weeks out to 8 months out. Am I missing something or have partnerships changed or… ????

    Thanks in advance!

  7. Los Angeles to any Hawaiian island for 12,500 Avios and no extra fees is the best deal going in miles. We were so grateful to be able to fly our whole family of 5 there last summer for only 125,000 miles roundtrip. All obtained from credit cards, of course. I priced the same itinerary using our American miles, on literally the same flights, and it was 200,000 miles!

  8. @Lewis, Alaska is like Aer Lingus in that it’s a a B.A. partner but not a OneWorld Alliance partner. Not all O.W. partners show up in ba.com searches, and AS & EI flights definitely don’t. You can search aa.com (American) for award availability on Alaska, however, and B.A.’s phone agents should have access to the same award inventory as AA gets from Alaska, which will show at the SAAver level (AAnytime-level awards from AA and any airline’s higher-level awards aren’t the kind that partners get access to, only their own direct program points). So once you find something on aa.com, you’ll have to phone B.A. to make the booking. You may be able to get them to waive the award booking fee since it couldn’t be done online, but that’s a YMMV situation.

  9. @Cynthia (and others who may experience errors with the B.A. website when searching for awards): I’ve noticed for awhile that if you use the calendar selector widget on B.A.’s website rather than manually inputting the date(s), it formats them in European style (i.e. day of month, prior to month, then year) which seems sensible enough. But the back-end engine acts on it as though it were in U.S. order (month first, then day of month). So when searching, for example, for Feb. 5th as 5/2/15, the availability results you’ll see are actually for May 2nd. So I’ve learned to adjust and simply manually input my date(s) and didn’t think any more of it. Until today, that is, when I happened to search for 23/02/15 (using their selector widget) and naturally there is no month 23, so it bombed out with an error message. So if this is the error @Cynthia saw (or anyone else runs into), try inputting the dates by hand using U.S. style notation.

    Sorry for practically hijacking this thread with my comments, but I hope my practical experiences from searches I’m doing right now are helpful.

  10. Thanks for the long and detailed post. I liked that there are several airlines covered in the post – I agree with @Scott that some of the information is from 2014 and earlier, so some of these tax, or price examples cannot be found.

    I would like the images to show the full cost – for a return and not the one-way cost that they show. I could not find any deals on the Avios site for this year that matched this posts examples.

    There seems to be a distinct lack of award flights available too :(.

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  12. No Malaysian Airlines…

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  14. Wow everyone seems to have great success with Avios…except for us! Our Hong Kong trip in 2013 required 180,000 Avios and $984.88 in fees via JAL/Cathay. Our itinerary was HNL > NRT > HKG and our return flight was HKG > NGO > HNL. I feel like we got ripped off. What did we do wrong?? 🙁

  15. Hello
    I have over 215.000 Avios
    Me and my wife have the closest airport in Copenhagen CPH
    1/ we 2 want to go one way to Havana, Cuba from Copenhagen
    on avios
    Coach or premium or business?
    what is your suggestion?
    2/ one or 2 of us wants to go Shanghai and return from Copenhagen
    on Avios
    What is your suggestion?
    3/ what is your fee for your suggestions ?
    Kind regards / Gordon

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