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British Airways increases surcharges on long-haul Avios redemptions

Feb. 14, 2022
4 min read
British Airways 777 Club Suite
British Airways increases surcharges on long-haul Avios redemptions
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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:

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  • 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 (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
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  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more