How to Avoid British Taxes and Fees on Award Trips
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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. 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:
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees