British Airways increases surcharges on long-haul Avios redemptions

Feb 14, 2022

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Without notice, British Airways has increased the cost of its surcharges on some long-haul redemptions in premium cabins by more than $135 (or about 100 pounds sterling) per person — about a 15% hike on select routes.

As first reported by Turning Left For Less, the copay element of your next Avios redemption for long-haul flights (especially to North America) may come as a shock, with some round-trip “free” redemption routes requiring an eye-watering $1,069 (or 790 pounds) per person.

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Fees, taxes and surcharges generally vary from route to route, though they should be the same amount regardless of which date you travel and if they are peak or off-peak dates.

Round-trip business-class flights from London to New York, a popular route for Avios redemptions thanks to excellent availability as a result of multiple flights every day, will now cost you $1,068 (or 788.90 pounds) plus 100,000 Avios per person for off-peak dates, an increase of more than $135 (or 100 pounds).

Round-trip flights in business class to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) also require the same $1,068 (or 788.90 pounds) in fees, taxes and surcharges, as do flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). If you are redeeming a British Airways Companion Voucher, remember that while you will only be required to pay the Avios for one passenger, you must pay the full fees, taxes and surcharges for both passengers, which may now be more than $2,030 (or 1,500 pounds) total, depending on the route.

Some destinations have not yet seen price increases. For example, flights to Rio de Janeiro have the same fees, taxes and surcharges today as they did a month ago. If you have your eyes on a particular future redemption, you should check the cost of the surcharge. If it hasn’t yet seen an increase, you may want to lock in your booking now to avoid the cost increasing without notice.

Related: My tips for starting out with points and miles

British Airways is already known for charging significant fees, taxes and surcharges on Avios redemptions, both on their own “metal” and on partner airlines. These are a combination of:

  • Government taxes, such as the Air Passenger Duty, which the airline is required to pay for each passenger departing the United Kingdom, so it passes these on to the customer.
  • Airport fees charged by the airports British Airways operates from and to, which are passed on to the passenger.
  • Discretionary fuel surcharge airlines charge to compensate the changing price of global fuel, though the surcharge rarely decreases when fuel prices drop.

There are a few tricks to reduce the cost of some fees and taxes, such as departing from mainland Europe rather than the United Kingdom. However, the fuel surcharge, which is the priciest element of a long-haul Avios redemption in a premium cabin, will remain high regardless of where you start your trip.

Related: How to save money on Oneworld redemptions to Europe

Bottom line

An unfortunate element of Avios redemptions has now become even more frustrating. British Airlines already charges very high fees, taxes and surcharges for its long-haul Avios redemptions, and the recent unannounced increase makes those aspirational redemptions more expensive. Fuel surcharges vary greatly from airline to airline and program to program, as they are completely discretionary.

Short-haul Reward Flight Saver redemption charges have not increased and remain an excellent value use of Avios.

British Airlines has suffered huge financial losses during the pandemic, and this may be a way to start to claw some of that back. It is very disappointing, though, that the airline did not at least warn its loyal customers of the impending increase.

Featured image by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy.

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