British Airways increases surcharges on long-haul Avios redemptions

Feb 14, 2022

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British Airways has without notice increased the cost of their surcharges on long-haul redemptions in premium cabins, by more than £100 (or around 15%) per person on some routes.

As first reported by Turning Left For Less, the co-pay element of your next Avios redemption for long-haul flights (especially to North America) may come as a shock with some routes requiring an eye-watering £790 per person return for their “free” redemption flight.

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

Business-class flights to New York, a popular route for Avios redemptions as there is excellent availability with multiple flights every day, will now cost you £788.90 plus the 100,000 Avios, off-peak per person for a return trip, an increase of over £100.

Los Angeles (LAX) return flights in business class also require the same £788.90 in fees, taxes and surcharges, as do flights to Seattle (SEA), for example. 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 £1,500 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 as this shows the cost can and does increase without notice.

Related: Visiting the Seven Wonders of the World using miles & points: The Taj Mahal, India

British Airways is already well-known for significant fees, taxes and surcharges on Avios redemptions, both on their own “metal” and for redemptions 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 U.K., so passes these on to the customer;
  • Airport fees charged by the airports British Airways operate from and to. Again these are passed onto the passenger. Heathrow Airport, British Airways largest base has announced small increases from £19.60 to £30.19 from 1 January 2022 which does not account for the three-figure price increase on some routes; and
  • Fuel surcharges, discretionary surcharge airlines charge to compensate the changing price of global fuel. This surcharge often increases as fuel prices increase though unfortunately generally do not decrease when fuel prices drop. For example, in 2020 fuel prices plunged as the world decreased travel during lockdowns, but the surcharges applied to Avios redemptions did not reduce as a result.

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, although the fuel surcharges, the largest element of a long-haul, premium cabin Avios redemption will remain high regardless of where you start your trip from.

Related: How to save big by starting your journey from mainland Europe

Bottom line

An unfortunate element of Avios redemptions has now become even more frustrating. British Airlines already charge very high fees, taxes and surcharges for their long-haul Avios redemptions and the recent increase, without any notice makes those aspirational redemptions more expensive. Fuel surcharges vary wildly from airline to airline and programme to programme as they are completely discretionary.

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

BA has suffered huge financial losses during the pandemic and this may be a way to start to claw some of that back but it is very disappointing they did not at least warn their loyal customers of the impending increase.

Featured image by Ben Smithson / The Points Guy

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