This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Booking award travel is so great because its means you’re getting what amounts to a free flight. Usually there are minimal taxes and fees on award tickets, with the exception of flights departing from one place in particular: the United Kingdom.

UK taxes and fees increase with each class of service and number of miles being flown, and can even be higher depending on which airport you fly out of. British Airways also adds on its own “fuel surcharges” to any award tickets flown on BA metal.

So, you want to go to London and not pay these egregious fees, which almost make more sense to pay in cash than waste your miles on? We asked the TPG Lounge and TPG staff what their strategies were for avoiding these pesky fees and here’s what they had to say:

Reposition

Repositioning to another city outside the UK can work, as well as finding a cheap one-way RyanAir or Easy Jet flight, or taking the train to an airport that doesn’t charge fees.

“Position yourself out of London on the Eurostar trains and catch the premium flights from other cities on mainland Europe.” — Kaustubh G.

A Eurostar e320 train, the latest train the Eurostar fleet, passes through Ashford, Kent. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
A Eurostar e320 train, the latest train the Eurostar fleet, passes through Ashford, Kent. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)

“For flights back to the US, I know it’s helpful to check award availability out of DUB, [CDG] etc. [and take a] 10 euro Ryanair flight and avoid $200 of fees.” — Wallace Cotton, TPG Community Manager

“Via Dublin is my favorite. When you fly to US airports, you can clear customs and immigration in Dublin and bypass them on landing.” — Steve H.

“Fly from Inverness or Jersey (no British APD). Inverness is only really an option if you are in the North of England/Scotland.” — Steven A.

“Belfast, Northern Ireland doesn’t charge the UK Air Passenger Duty on long haul flights, although United recently ended the only nonstop connection between Belfast and the US in 2017.” — Brendan Dorsey, TPG Associate Editor

Build It in to the Cost of Travel

“I just pay the taxes & fees and factor it into trip costs. My time & energy is more important to me than wasting it by traveling from a different place.” — Cal N.

Avoid British Airways

On top of the UK’s airport taxes, British Airways also tacks on hefty fuel surcharges for award tickets, regardless of the award program you booked through.

“Fly pure American flights. BA hikes the [fuel surcharges]. It’s nuts. I have saved thousands of dollars by avoiding BA. Not easy though. You have to plan ahead and work hard to find your available seats.” — Tim I.

British Airways Boeing 747 takes off at London Heathrow, UK, 25 May 2010(Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)
British Airways Boeing 747 takes off at London Heathrow, UK, 25 May 2010 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

“Avoid redeeming Avios for BA flights on BA.com (not worth it — transfer to Iberia if you have no other option as the taxes and fees tend to be much cheaper for the same flights).” — Steven A.

Other Tricks

“Use the United Excursionist perk, which allows you a free one-way segment on round-trip itineraries between two different regions. For example, you could book Newark (EWR) to London (LHR), London to Dublin (DUB), and then Dublin (DUB) to Newark. You won’t need to use miles for the London-Dublin leg since it’s covered by Excursionist.” — Brendan Dorsey, TPG Assistant Editor

“You still pay hefty fees on British Airways and other carriers to land and depart from London. One way around it is to book one-way tickets to a third destination like Amsterdam, Paris or Milan, and just walk out of the airport. You pay 4,000 Avios more but you save about $100 in economy and much more in business. And on the way back, do the same and transit through London two times. It is a pain, but if you’re after cheap tickets it is worth it. Otherwise, when in a hurry I just bite the bullet!” — Max B.

“If traveling with lots of baggage with no time constraints, travel to a hub using “Rail and Sail” to Dublin or Amsterdam (Google it), Eurostar or a coach to save on baggage fees.” — Steven A.

“(On Aeroplan) YQ [fuel surcharges] recalculation doesn’t happen once the first leg of a journey has started. So if you’re feeling ballsy, don’t include LHR on your original trip and then add it in by paying a change fee, if inventory is available, after the first leg is flown.” — Vincent L.

“The other option from the BA end is an Aer Lingus redemption from Dublin, which can be as low as 12.5k miles and minimal taxes. However, one needs to call BA to make such a booking with Avios.” — Steven A.

“We’ll be using the Chase portal to book flights on Norwegian from London to Seattle with our UR. Obviously not the same experience as the legacy carriers, but our goal is max bang for minimum buck, so Norwegian premium seems the way to go for the return.” — Cyra V.

Featured image by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$595
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.