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.
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 avios.com
For some reason these changes have not (yet?) filtered through to avios.com. You will need to move your Avios points from avios.com 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!