British Airways has substantially raised fuel surcharges on flights originating in the United States, especially for first class. How high is too high too for an “award” ticket?
A round-trip business class ticket from the United States to London and back will now cost you $1433.46 (including $1,106 in fuel surcharges alone) in addition to the miles.
A round-trip first class ticket from the same city pairs will now cost you $1,833.46 (including $1,506 in fuel surcharges alone) in addition to the miles.
This sort of pricing really begs the question: is it worthwhile? It used to be about $1,000 r/t for taxes/fees. Thus, you could calculate that you were essentially “paying” for an economy class ticket and using miles to upgrade. The $1400-1800+ in out-of-pocket really stretches the value proposition of this award, especially when economy class tickets continue to drop in price and we routinely see cheap paid business class tickets.
The only instance I can ever picture spending this kind of money + miles is if revenue tickets are significantly more expensive. And when that occurs, award space is rarely available.
How To (Partially Avoid) These High Surcharges
The best way to reduce your exposure on these fuel surcharges is to
avoid British Airways book two one-way journeys instead of a single round-trip. For whatever reason–perhaps so as not to tick off European customers–fuel surcharges are much cheaper when originating in Europe. Just like on Lufthansa….
> Read More: How I Saved $600+ On Aeroplan And STILL Booked Lufthansa
There’s an even more complicated trick to avoid fuel surcharges on British Airways that involves booking a premium + economy class combination using Iberia Avios. Lucky lays out the process here. I don’t expect this trick to last. Alaska Airlines also has yet to upgrade its fuel surcharge amounts on British Airways flights.
There will reach a point where British Airways prices itself out of the market. Perhaps this is it, perhaps not. But $1800+ for a first class ticket to London is hardly a “steal” when you are also spending 136K+ miles.
How much are you willing to pay for a British Airways award ticket?
It looks like Brutish Airways is passing the cost of LHR operations and expansion to award travellers. Someone has to pay for those money losing A380’s.
“There will reach a point where British Airways prices itself out of the market.”
For revenue fares, sure. But awards? I’m doubtful. Do you really think sales will take a dive bc they make avios (even more!) worthless? I am proud to say I’ve never earned a skypeso or avios in my life!
I think he is right, they have already priced themselves out of the market for me. I can grab discount business class fares for $1300-1500 round trip from the east coast on British Airways a few times per year, closing the gap on their new surcharges plus the UK APD. At least when (and if) I buy those, I earn Avios I can use on other oneworld carriers to save a bunch of money. BKK-HKG on CX in business class is 15,000 Avios each way, but paid coach is about $250 (on a number of carriers) and business class is too high at $650-1000. Avios still have value, just not when flying British Airways.
It feels like BA is decoupling their operation (i.e. actually flying the planes) division from their loyalty program. Wonder if that’s a smart decision. I mean, when a flyer redeems avios on *any* metal, BA would have to foot the bill. Pushing customers to allies cannot be cheaper than provisioning the redemption themselves, right? And, even if BA only goes by revenue, I would imagine flyers have to pay for the miles somehow, either directly (through flying or buying) or indirectly (i.e. Chase/Amex pays some cents per mile). So, why can’t they just work out the math themselves? It feels like somebody is doing some very stupid math somewhere.
They must be on the really short end of the price elasticity by now jeez
Even before this latest increase they’ve driven me away from BA. When I was researching award booking to Europe for this next spring, I didn’t even waste time looking on BA. I ended up flying into Madrid and out of Dublin using almost 200k Avios for two. And none of it on BA.
It sure makes the 241 ticket pretty useless.
I was considering signing up for the BA Credit Card and putting $30K spend on it for the 241. I may still sign up. 100K Avios are still valuable, just not for BA flights. But the value proposition of going from $20K spend to $30K doesn’t seem to be there anymore.
Personally I almost never redeem longhaul awards on BA. The surcharges were already too high to make them worthwhile. For those of us based in the U.K. the sweet spots in BAEC have always been 1) Shorthaul/Medium Haul rewards, where intra-Europe there is usually plenty of availability and rewards are exceptionally good value compared to the rest of the chart (in essence you earn a free r/t award ticket within Europe each time you fly paid longhaul in premium economy or above), and 2) upgrades, especially from premium economy to CW and CW to First.
I think it’s also worth noting, as some have commented on other blogs as well, that BA and LH have both massively increased surcharges for travel originating in the US ONLY. This would seem to be a move to rebalance value propositions since miles are so much easier/cheaper to come by in the US than anywhere else. In this case BA clearly felt too many US customers had amassed huge numbers of Avios through card spend as vs their U.K./European base, and in response has essentially made those avios valueless for longhaul premium redemptions originating in the States… Club World fares across the Atlantic can frequently be had for $2k or bit less so paying $1500 in surcharges to earn no miles would be insane.
Thanks for this information, Matthew. I’m so over BA, Avios, and their fuel surcharges. I just topped up my BA account, taking advantage of the AmEx 1000 = 1,400 Avios promotion, and booked a one way, nonstop flight from HKG to IAD on Cathay Pacific for 150,000 miles and $61.38, leaving 858 orphan miles in my account. I’m done with them and what a great way to go out!