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British Airways starts to cut long-haul fuel surcharges on Avios redemptions

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Yes, it’s true.  But only by a bit.  It’s a start, though.

I reported two weeks ago about how British Airways has scrapped ALL fuel surcharges on short-haul redemptions.  This means that some European redemptions are now cheaper booked as 2 x one-way flights rather a return, due to the way that Reward Flight Saver taxes are calculated.  (See this article for a fuller explanation.)

British Airways has now made a modest move on long-haul fuel surcharges, or ‘carrier imposed surcharges’ as they now like to call them following a lawsuit in the US.

British Airways 350

On Monday night, the fuel surcharge on a long-haul economy flight was cut from £229 to £209.  It had already been reduced by £10 in December but no-one noticed!  It was £239 before Christmas.

The fuel surcharge on a long-haul premium class flight was reduced from £359 to £329.

Whilst these savings bear no relation to the 50% fall in the oil price in recent weeks, they still represent a £120 saving for a family of four.

I took a look at a one-way First Class redemption I have booked to Toronto in August.  The taxes and charges overall are £17.90 lower than when I booked.

Both Emirates and Qatar Airways have also made announcement recently about cutting their surcharges although no hard numbers have appeared yet.  A cut by Qatar Airways would be significant as it would directly impact the charges payable on Avios redemptions – if they drop far enough, it may become more cost effective to fly Qatar rather than BA, even if you had a 2-4-1 voucher.  I will be keeping an eye on this.

PS.  BA has been adding fuel surcharges since 2004, unbelievably.  I know that income tax was originally introduced as a ‘temporary’ tax back in 1842 but still …..

PPS.  The fuel surcharges on a full BA A380 were £132,011 return using the old numbers

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  1. Yet again the regions suffer at the expense of london with BA. Connecting flights no longer free for europe. Effectively doubles the cost of a european redemtion. thanks a bunch BA

    • Brendan says:

      Exactly…why could they not just even remove the free stopover part but still allow a free transfer? That would have been a much fairer compromise in my opinion!

    • i dont agree with this, its not the airlines fault they dont fly from where you live.
      why should you get a free flight. i could say well ba dont fly direct to hawaii so why cant i get a free flight to hawaii when i book a direct flight to lax

      • Brendan says:

        Yes, but nobody flies direct to Hawaii.

        BA dont offer any direct flights therefore we are forced to take a connecting flight to go anywhere. I don’t see that as a ‘free flight’, I see it as a wasted few hours in an airport to connect to another flight. Now, BA are asking me to pay an extra £75 (£80 during peak) valuing avios at 0.5p each (they are most certainly worth closer to that than the 1p each many used before now) for the privilege.

      • But then they’re not called Hawaiian Airlines! The oft used “London Airways” looks truer all the time.

        • who cares what their name is. Alaskan air are based in Seattle.

          all i am saying is they are a private company , they can operate wherever they like.
          i am sure if it made business sense they would offer flights from manchester/newcastle/carlisle wherever .

          for you to expect you should get a free transfer to their hub is ridiculous. it was a nice perk while it lasted for those in the north, however unfortunately now its over. you now have 3 choices, pay for the connection, fly with someone else, or move closer to london.

          • Brendan says:

            Richie you are not getting the point at all.

            Do you ever notice how direct flights are so much dearer than flights to the same destination with a connection in the middle? Its because its a premium for convenience. People rather their time spent at the destination and not on the way to it. They are not giving us a ‘free’ flight – they are making us connect and waste our time. Its for that reason why they should be making it more attractive to fly from the regions – but they are doing the opposite.

            But you are right that we have 3 choices and I’m sure that 90% of people will choose option 2. Maybe thats what BA want, time will tell.

  2. Janeyferr says:

    FYI, Received this email from Avios at 11:26 today:

    We’d like you to know about upcoming changes to Avios and how they affect you.

    We’re making them to open up more opportunities for you to spend Avios, as well as to ensure that your reward programme remains as competitive as possible.

    The changes are outlined below and will take effect from 28 April 2015. For more detailed information, please click here.

    All bookings made before 28 April 2015 are not affected.

    1. Changes to how Avios are collected on British Airways and Iberia flights

    You can currently collect Avios for the distance you fly. From 28 April, you’ll still collect them based on the distance you fly and cabin class but also on fare type. To find out more please click here.

    2. Many flights will cost fewer Avios

    From 28 April, we will introduce peak and off-peak Avios pricing for British Airways and Iberia flights depending on the time of year, the cabin and destination.

    So for off-peak periods, which are two thirds of the year, you will need even less Avios than now to fly in economy.

    3. Improved flight availability

    From 28 April, there will be more than 9 million reward seats available on British Airways flights, with a minimum of two Club World/Club Europe and four World Traveller/Euro Traveller reward seats on all British Airways operated flights.

    This means there will be over half a million extra reward seats available throughout the year, so you have even more flights to choose from*.

    4. Upgrade with Avios

    By the end of the year, you will be able to upgrade more British Airways World Traveller and Euro Traveller cash tickets using Avios, except on the lowest priced seats.

    5. Changes to UK domestic connecting flights on short haul flights

    From 28 April, you’ll be required to pay cash or Avios along with Reward Flight Saver for any UK connecting flight to and from your final European destination.

    British Airways long haul flights are unaffected, so if you’re travelling further afield you can still benefit from a free connecting reward flight in the UK.

    There are now also more options when flying direct to international destinations from a UK regional airport.

    • This is terrible news for me. I spend a lot of time in Europe for work (self employed) and often use Avios to travel home. The loss of the free domestic connection will hit me hard. Does anyone know if that will only be via or on BA exec club also?

  3. cmcbugg says:

    Hopefully no one here is redeeming for economy.

    • Richard says:

      I redeem for economy all the time – but only on short-haul. I use Avios if I’m getting >1p value, and cash otherwise. Availability on the routes I usually travel is pretty good, so it all works out quite nicely. (Rather less nicely now they’re ending free domestic connections, but it’ll still be worth doing a lot of the time).

      Of course I realise I could get more out of them flying long-laul in premium cabins. But this way, I end up at the place I actually want to go to 😉

  4. Looks like it’s goodbye to cheap redemptions on AB and EI.

  5. James67 says:

    As regular readers will know I have been vocal on likelihood of this devaluation for past year. Despite this, I found the news this morning shocking and surprising. It is early days yet so we need to await fuller analysis but it would be foolish to believe other than that changes will be net negative as a whole. Despite this, there will be winners and losers and which you are may well vary as your travel needs changes over time. One thing of interest to me is the announcment that all avios related activity is being transferred from IAG to AGL. My reading of this is that BA intends to sell off AGL down the road meaning the rewards will be managed by an independent company with the result that further enhancments and devaluations are likely. I also commented recently on whether loyalty pays and if we would not be better focussing our efforts on maximising savings on a flight by flight or hotel by hotel basis. In light of all recent devaluations, and particularly now that BA is affected, I think this is an issue we should all now afford greater emphasis. I know Rob has been less keen on focussing HfPs on revenue promotions as opposed to points and miles earning and redemptions opportunities. Thus far this has in my view been the correct focus. However, as mileage and point schemes evolve in ways that make it more difficult for the majority of ordinary readers to earn and redeem I think it would be useful if Rob could allow HfPs to evolve in parallel by putting a little more emphasis on promos that save hard cash, particularly those from partners that earn avios at the same time. As the scheme rules become ever more complex, and the true cost of participation rises and benefits fall, it is important that we all do our homework on a trip by trip basis to ensure we are not actually being conned by our hobby.

    • Brendan says:

      Well said.

    • The shift has already happened – there has been significantly more coverage of fare sales, basically Air France / KLM, Finnair and the Middle East ‘big 3’ over the last six months. There isn’t much more I can add to be honest because only the big hub airlines offer global coverage.

      I didn’t see your comment about selling the company before I posted the article that just went up. You have missed a key point – the guaranteed two seats. That is the key to everything and if you can’t work out why I will explain tomorrow.

      • James67 says:

        Ah yes, got it. The interesting consequence could be a short term boost to avios collection opportunities from launch promos, and hopefully a few very rewarding errors along the way. Probably a pipe dream though as the loyalty game has been around long enough to weed out naivity amongst manaent. Can still happen though…economist iberia! Not that that helps for those procrastinators like me. Almost messed up again today, the run on seats aound Xmas and new year was something to see.

  6. I am sure many if not most people on here either focus on business or first class when it comes to long haul. Economy redemptions are simply not worth it. Looking at zone 5 for new york it appears that miles have effectively been devalued by between 25 and 33% for business class and 12 and 25% for first class. If you have family and your options are restricted to peak times then its the higher of these figures. If you live outside of London and have used connecting flights for reward saver then the devaluation is up to 50%

    • Yup, it’s a double whammy for me. The Mrs is a teacher so we can only get away at peak times & traveling from Scotland means we’ll have to burn twice as many avios to get to Europe. Boo-urns!

  7. Chewbacca says:

    Slightly off topic here but does anyone know how upgrading/downgrading on BA Premium works for resetting the renewal.

    Spent just over £10k on BA amex (basic) got Mrs to take out new BA Premium with me as supplementary. I understand that if I upgrade the basic to BA Preimum the £10k spend will convert to a voucher and the renewal clock will change to a year from now ie Jan/Feb 2016 before spend will qualify for a new voucher.
    Am planning to only spend on new BA Premium to meet referral bonuses and second voucher.
    If we upgrade the Basic, trigger the voucher then downgrade and subsequently upgrade will this change the renewal date each time? I was thinking that upgrading/downgrading might roughly average out at the equivalent of one £150 fee is this feasible? £300 for two cards mightn’t be worth it especially given these new changes?

  8. Read this article yesterday which might explain why fuel surcharges might not fall as much as we would hope. Ryanair at least have locked in at high fuel prices for a period to come..

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