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BA scraps fuel surcharges on short-haul flights – change your Avios redemption strategy

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Just after Christmas, British Airways scrapped fuel surcharges on its short-haul flights.  They didn’t tell anyone and no-one noticed.  Even on Flyertalk, just about no-one noticed.  Including me.  I will explain why in a minute and also explain why this IS actually a big deal.

The first thing to note is that cash tickets are unchanged.  The fuel surcharge – technically known as YQ – has been reduced to £0 on short-haul but the base fare has been increased by the same amount.  Nothing changes if you are buying cash tickets.

Let’s move on to Avios redemptions.  The Reward Flight Saver fee is unchanged.  This remains at £35 return (£17.50 one-way) in Eurotraveller and £50 return (£25 one-way) in Club Europe.

However, if the new taxes and charges are less than the RFS fee, BA will now charge you the lower amount instead.

British Airways 350 2

This is why no-one noticed that the fuel surcharge had gone.  If you book a one-way or a return flight from the UK, your taxes and charges bill will ALWAYS be higher than the Reward Flight Saver fee.  Air Passenger Duty and the shockingly high £30 Heathrow passenger charge sees to that.

There is a clever way to save some money, however.

Going forward, you should consider splitting a European redemption into two separate bookings (unless you are using a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher).

The outbound flight will be charged at the Reward Flight Saver one-way rate which is £17.50 in Eurotraveller or £25 in Club Europe.  This is substantially lower than the Air Passenger Duty and £30 Heathrow passenger charge, even with no fuel surcharge.

Coming home, your taxes will often be cheaper if you book a one-way.  Here are some examples:

Luxembourg to London – £2 tax in Eurotraveller, £2 tax in Club Europe (saves £15.50 / £23)

Jersey to London (Gatwick) – £7 tax in Eurotraveller, £7 tax in Club Europe (saves £10.50 / £18)

Paris to London – £17.50 tax in Eurotraveller, £25 tax in Club Europe (no change due to high local tax)

Dublin to London – £8 tax in Eurotraveller, £8 tax in Club Europe (saves £9.50 / £17)

Amsterdam to London – £17.50 tax in Eurotraveller, £23 tax in Club Europe (saves £0 / £2)

Madrid to London – £17.50 tax in Eurotraveller, £25 tax in Club Europe (no saving)

Prague to London – £16 tax in Eurotraveller, £16 tax in Club Europe (saves £1.50 / £9)

Budapest to London – £17.50 tax in Eurotraveller, £21 tax in Club Europe (saves £4)

Hamburg to London – £16 tax in Eurotraveller, £16 tax in Club Europe (saves £1.50 / £9)

Taking London to Dublin in Club Europe as an example, your pre-Christmas taxes and charges figure would have been £50.  Even today, if you book a return from London, it will be £50.  However, book a one-way to Dublin and a one-way back to London and your total taxes number is £33.   This saves you £17 per person.

One warning – ‘cancellation risk’ in Club Europe

If your plans are tentative, you might lose out with this strategy.  Remember that BA charges the lower of £35 or the taxes paid if you cancel a flight.

Take the Hamburg example above.  Yes, you save £9 by booking a Club Europe trip as two one-way flights.  If you cancelled, however, you would lose £25 on the outbound booking and £16 on the return, making a total cancellation fee of £41.  Had you booked a Club Europe return flight, the cancellation fee would have been £35 as you are just cancelling one ticket.

There is no ‘cancellation risk’ in Eurotraveller because the most you can lose is £17.50 each way (ie the RFS fee) which is the same as paying £35 to cancel a return ticket.

In general, though, this is good news for British Airways Executive Club members.

It is even better news for anyone who books British Airways short-haul flights using On Business points or miles from another oneworld frequent flyer programme.  These people previously had to pay the full tax and charges amount (no RFS cap) and so they will see the full benefit on the removal of the short-haul fuel surcharge.

Nothing has changed at

For some reason these changes have not (yet?) filtered through to  You will need to move your Avios points from to British Airways Executive Club via ‘Combine My Avios’ to take advantage of these lower taxes.

And before anyone asks … 

…. there is no sign yet of any movement on the YQ figure attached to long-haul flights!

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Comments (49)

  • Elena-MuslimTravelGirl says:

    This option didn’t work for me when I looked to TXL -LON it still shows 17,50 🙁 Am I missing something?

    • Rob says:

      Germany has its own version of APD which, combined with the TXL passenger charges, presumably pushes the taxes above £17.50, hence it caps at that level.

      • Rich says:

        Remember, this is only working for redemptions using BAEC accounts.

        Avios have not made the same changes (yet?)

  • paul says:

    Any impact on Iberia?

  • Andrew S says:

    As an aside does anyone know why fuel surcharge is broken out as a different segment of the ticket? Whats the advantage/disadvanatge of doing this? And why has BA now changed this into the base price?

    • Rob says:

      If a company strikes a deal with BA, it will usually be excluding fuel surcharges. Let’s assuming BA agrees that Goldman Sachs can buy tickets to New York for £1,500 return. The contract will allow BA to add the fuel surcharge on top. Same with redemptions.

      The only other reason to use YQ is that I believe fully flexible ticket fares can only be changed twice a year under IATA rules at the start of the Spring and Autumn timetables. YQ is meant to be a temporary measure to allow an airline to adjust to a spike in oil prices until it can reset fares at the next timetable switch.

      It doesn’t make any difference to your average cash ticket buyer whether it is added to the base fare or not.

  • Rich says:

    Transcript of web chat with Avios this morning…

    Kathryn] Welcome to Avios, my name is Kathryn, how can I help you?
    [Visitor] Hi, I notice that using my BAEC AVIOS account, BA have dropped the fees on my intended redemption, but note that this is not that case on ?
    [Kathryn] Let me check that for you.
    [Visitor] the intended redemption is a single ticket from Jersey to LGw. BAEC are now quoting 4,500 avios +£7.00 Avios are quoting the RFS rate of 4,500 plus £17.50
    [Kathryn] What dates are you looking for please?
    [Visitor] february around the 10 th
    [Kathryn] Thanks. Let me check that for you.
    [Kathryn] You’d need to check this with BA as we’re not aware of any price changes here at the moment.
    [Visitor] I have checked. Apparently BA have recently scrapped the YQ element on shorthaul in response to the fall in the cost of oil and a charging the lower rate(s) if less than the RFS amount……
    [Kathryn] Do you need any help with your account today?
    [Kathryn] Ahh ok I see. At the moment we’ve not been made aware of any price changes here.
    [Visitor] Doesn’t seem right, as you are both part of IAG and if the RFS fee is more than the actuals, seems very wrong. Perhaps this needs to be queried upstream please? I will obviously book my flight using BAEC as for four of us that is a saving of £42!
    [Kathryn] I’ll certainly be bringing this to the attention of my manager.
    [Visitor] than

  • James67 says:

    The main point here should not be whether or not we can save a few quid on some shorthaul flights but rather on the despicable way BA treats its customers. At a time when other airlines are reducing or scrapping YQ (as they should be) BA contemptuously just transfers it into the base fare, believing they can take us all for mugs. It is little wonder that they have not heralded the scrapping of YQ because they would be afraid of adverse publicity from fallout of people like Raffles and others spotting what they were up too. They probably hoped this would slip under the radar and would later try to claim some credit for scrapping it. A similar thing happened with APD; I din’t see full benefit of that passed on either We often point the finger at Ryanair but truth to tell there is now little difference at BA given such practices and their ever increasing penny pinching when it comes to service I hope some mainstream media picks up the YQ story and BA get the bad press they deserve

    • czechoslovakia says:

      Very sneaky of BA, but business is business. More competition is needed, and BA really needs to wake up to the fact they can no longer be seen by many as a “premium” airline. I have recently cancelled 3 x CE returns due to their “improvements” to the EU cabins, as an example, and rebooked in Y with LH.

  • David says:

    Rob, regarding the potential risk of having to cancel 2x one way bookings: this would only be a downside if booking in CE. If booking in Y the MOST you’d lose from 2x cancelled one way bookings would be £35 which is no more than what you’d lose on 1x cancelled round trip booking.

  • Barafear799 says:

    Am I right in thinking (with reference to the live chat trascript above) that this “trick” still doesn’t actually work on
    I did try a single flight from Prague to London and it showed at £17.50 in economy.

  • […] and they have eliminated  the surcharge for short haul flights within Europe (HT to Raffles)! And another excellent post on the same […]