Bits: BBC on non-vanishing fuel surcharges, Club World pax to Vancouver can sit in First until March!

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News in brief:

The BBC covers the mystery of the non-vanishing fuel surcharge

The BBC website moved into interesting frequent flyer territory last week, taking a look at why fuel surcharges still appear to exist – especially with British Airways.

It also ponders why, following a legal challenge in the US, they are now called ‘carrier imposed surcharges’ over there.

It is well worth having a read – click here for the full piece.

Be prepared to roll your eyes as a Lufthansa spokesman claims the charge is now for “costs beyond our control such as air traffic control fees, emissions trading scheme payments and so on.”  Obviously.  Thanks to Mac.

British Airways

No British Airways First Class on Vancouver until March

Due to aircraft changes, British Airways will not be offering First Class on Vancouver services from Thursday until the end of February.

The aircraft, a Boeing 747, will have a First Class cabin but it is one of the few which has not been refurbished as the plane was due to be retired.  The aircraft will fly with the First Class cabin closed or, if demand is high, open the cabin but operate a Club World service.

If you are booked on one of these services with Avios, you will receive a partial refund based on the cost of a Club World redemption.

If you are booked to Vancouver in Club World before the end of February, keep an eye on the seat map!  If BA opens up the First Class cabin, you will able to move your seat reservation.

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  1. Hingeless says:

    Qantas also offer F seats on 747s to business passangers, I flew Sydney to Haneda a few weeks ago in 1k. As the service and food is better thsn BA I actually felt like I was in First.

    They also keep the cabin available regardless of booking levels.

  2. It doesn’t matter what charges the airlines impose, and what they want to call them or what excuses they want to make for charging them, in a competitive market, even for redemption when we have to pay these charges, we should only compare the final price and if it’s worth it for that product, so i’m not sure why all the fuss with some airlines wanting to charge more.

    • Hingeless says:

      BA is longer competing on product, it is competing on price these days ( if you ignore redemption surcharges).

    • Because people think it’s not competitive enough.

      If, for example, Virgin Atlantic had no carrier surcharges on redemptions then maybe BA would be forced to reduce/remove theirs (not a great comparison due to the very different route networks, but there’s not another BA style UK-based airline to compare with!).

  3. Cheshire Pete says:

    BA is also now still one of the few to impose a “Credit Card” surcharge of a flat £5 no matter the spend, including £35 flights. Including its own BA branded Amex card, which is utterly disgraceful. That represents as a % on a £35 fare a fee of around 15%, Completey against all government guidance on capping such fees to no more than 2.5%. On that basis the flat fee doesn’t even become technically legal until you spend £200 per passenger.

    It’s hard to understand how they get away with it. I am aware of the country work around by the way, but none the less Im sure many of the general public are not.

    • I think the surcharge is now actually £10 including using PayPal. It might be that it’s early but I swear when booking a flight on tHursday I was whacked with a £10 surcharge which is quite frankly disgusting.

      • Edit having looking it’s a £5 surcharge per person. Still disgusting.

        • Cheshire Pete:

          Good point about the BA £5 flat fee.

          Booked 8 days car hire via BA Executive Club last week-charged £5 for using their(BAPP) credit card!

        • To add, the spend was <£200.

        • Worzel, why do you bother using a credit card in such cases? Surely not for the miles, which are clearly not worth spending £5 on. Do you get other advantages that make it worth using a CC?

        • Good point Brian- Not for the miles as we’ve more than we can use.

          I prefer to have section 75 available if necessary.

          Hacked Off with the £5 BAPP charge I still went for it, as there is the “advertised” added extra driver for free.

      • Strangely enough, a lot of HFP readers live in Uzbekistan

    • You don’t pay the surcharge on RFS bookings but you do on revenue flights and other products, based on my experience last week of booking 3xCE RFS returns (£150) and a £108 car hire (£113).

    • What is the country work around then, pretending to be a non UK resident?

      • Obviously you shouldn’t be actively avoiding it. However, when selecting a country in the dropdown menu, sometimes your mouse just slips and accidentally clicks the one next to United Kingdom.

    • Be careful what you with for – Virgin is 1.5% flat which can easily exceed the BA figure.

      And the BA credit card fee can be avoided very easily, I assume 80% of the HFP readership know how.

    • Phillip says:

      Got charged £10 for >£600 spend.

    • TheFamousJames says:

      Glad somebody brought up the BA credit card surcharge. That’s why I visited to comment this morning. Does anybody know if this continuing practice IS actually illegal in the face of the EU rules on capping? Can anybody say class action? Maybe that’s a PPI-style reclaim activity I could get behind…

      • The EU capping rules are for fees between banks, so no.

        IANAL but “class action” doesn’t exist in the UK does it?

        What might be illegal under EU law is that cardholders from other EU countries do not have to pay this charge.

        • TheFamousJames says:

          My tongue was firmly in my cheek on that post. Shame there’s no emoji for that! The principle stands though – it still seems excessive. Someone posted that 80% of HFP readers will know how to avoid the fee. If that is something other than using a debit card, then I must be in the 20% that don’t know the trick?

        • Is now explained in the other comments – which I will delete at the end of the day.

        • What you need to remember is that the law was changed a few years ago to ALLOW credit card fees. This was after pressure from consumer groups.

          They believed that, if Tesco charged a card fee in-store, it would be able to reduce the cost of shopping for cash customers. And cash customers are effectively poorer.

          You use an Amex in Tesco, Tesco pays, say, 1% to Amex to fund your Avios. Nice. The low income person behind you who can’t get a credit card pays more for their shopping because Tesco has to recover your 1%. That was the logic.

          In reality, very few shops decided to add a fee but some groups, like airlines, jumped on it.

          Virgin charges 1.5% FLAT. This, arguably, is a truer reflection of their real cost. However, when you asked for a £100 credit card on a £6,500 business class purchase it does grate, clearly.

      • Lady London says:

        waaah hey can you imagine if BA’s credit card surcharges to consumers that are so far beyond any conceivable cost to process them, were challenged in a court of law and the judgement said that BA must repay all such illegally collected credit card charges? 🙂

    • Is this definitely the case? I booked redemption flights on the BA website 4 days ago, paid with the BA Premium Plus Amex, and was only charged the £35 per ticket. No credit card surcharge…

  4. Jazzysarah says:

    Avios uk don’t charge for cc

  5. They have flown new first on that route, we were on it last April. However, we had lucked out, because we grabbed the reward seats shortly after the new first was added, giving us plenty of choices of seats, vs virtually none from any other west coast departure.

    • Yes they have. BA has aircraft issues after a plane got some damage – I think this 747 was due to have been pensioned off but has been retained as cover.

  6. Had an F seat on a CX flight from KUL to HKG, I had spotted it via Myflights app when the aircraft changed from a 3 class to a 4 class, at the time I had my CX Gold status and was able to reserve 1A. Same business class food and service, but all tasted a little bit nicer in 1A!

  7. Phillip says:

    I am booked to fly back from Vancouver on 17 Feb. The seat selections for Club are now split in three: Upper Deck, Main Deck and Front Cabin (which is the First Class section). All seats in the Front Cabin are currently blocked. I’m not really sure I’d want to sit there. I think I prefer the Upper Deck in a Club seat.

    • I think I might never get to fly 747 upper deck.

      By the time I moved up from economy the 747 was no longer widely used. I don’t regularly go to BA’s remaining 747 destinations.

      I did go to YVR last summer and chose an upper deck seat, but I got upgraded to F!

  8. Completely OT, but are there any quick ways to earn United MileagePlus miles? I could use about 60k in the next month. Alternatively, can I book United flights from any other airline’s loyalty scheme? They seem to have a monopoly on certain (very) short flights on the west coast that I really need to fly, but they are charging a fortune for them ($400 for a one-hour flight!). I’ve checked and they have reward availability at about 10k miles per leg so I’m hoping I can earn about 60k miles quickly to avoid a $2400 cost for 6 short flights, or use some other, more easily accessible airline loyalty scheme to book the flights.


    • You can book UA flights with any Star Alliance FFP. It won’t cost 10k miles though (which is the saver price for UAMP only), probably 12500 at the least, maybe 15000 or even 25000. Saver and standard availability are different.

      If you need 60000 miles next month, then you probably need to take a short paid F flight which earns 200% or more

      • Thanks, that is really helpful. I’ll take a look. You are right, I’ve been looking at saver availability. At 25k per leg it really is very difficult, but even if I can only do two of the flights on points, it’s a decent cash saving. In terms of flexible “currency”, I’ve got about 40k Amex Member Rewards Points and about 25k SPG points (and precisely 522 MileagePlus miles!).

  9. I think it’s potentially illegal under EU law how BA charges credit card surcharges for some EU countries and not others!

    • Probably the other way around, ie it’s maybe illegal to charge CC fees on flights in some EU countries, so BA side-steps this problem.

      Definitely not illegal to have different charges/ fees for residents of one EU country vs another. The CC address indicates residency.

  10. Enigma368 says:

    BA likely won’t remove “fuel surcharges” until enough people realise that they are getting, in most cases, a pretty bad deal by redeeming avios for long haul business class. If you have a choice between 100,000 avios and £550 in taxes, or an avios and tp earning cash fare for £750 ex Dublin and you still choose the avios option, then BA are obviously making a lot more value from you than from the person who chooses to fly out of Dublin. In many cases you are paying up to 70% to 80% more for the ex UK option when you take into account the value of the avios etc.

    Of course many people will know they are getting bad value but choose the avios option for convenience or the need to fly ex UK but I suspect a lot of (mostly non HFP readers) will also do so without realising how much of a better deal they could be getting for a little bit of extra effort.

  11. Very OT:
    I flew back from Marrakech last night and the flight was significantly delayed. We eventually left 3 1/2 hours late with BA, by the pilot’s his own admission, doing everything they coud to get the delay under 3 hours (the pilot mentione that favours had been asked for from air traffic control to enable a speedy landing).
    The wheel touched down on our flight 2.55 hours behind schedule but if was after the 3 hour cut off by the time the doors of the flight were opened for disembarking, albeit only by a minute or two. What are the chances of a compensation claim under EU rule 261/2004 succeeding?.

      • Yes that is showing the landed (wheels down) time rather than the disembarking time which I understand is relevant here. Needless to say the wheels down time is under the 3hours but the disembarking time wasn’t!

    • That’s a zero chance of success, it was under 3 hours delay.

    • Kathryn says:

      I was on the same flight and have decided to give it a go, it’s only a web form. By my phone they were 2 mins after the cut off when they opened the doors..

      • Yes Kathryn would agree with that we had it as 11.47pm when the doors opened too and we were checking on 2 different phones!

        • Kathryn says:

          Shame we can’t do a group claim with us all backing each other up 🙂

        • I’d like to see them reply officially that the times were xyz etc.

          Would look very bad if they lie & get found out.

          They’d probably rather sort you 2 out and maintain the pretence for the rest of the plane.

        • They won’t lie. If the CAA audit the flight and found out that the airline lied the fall out would be substantial for BA.
          I expect on a BA aircraft the ‘doors open’ time is captured electronically and transmitted to the airline automatically (via ACARS if anyone is interested). This will capture the first door to be opened (if that door was a cargo hold door).
          It’s black and white in this case since the delay was clearly of a non-extraordinary nature. If doors were opened at 03:01 or greater they’ll pay. If they weren’t – they won’t.

        • Edit to my post above, should read ‘even’ if that door was a cargo hold door – apologies for the typo.

        • Depends which time stamp BA used. Normal “public” record is flight time (wheels off/on ground) and block time (brakes off to brakes on).

          Chances are that the published time of arrival is block time rather than the time the first door physically opens.

        • Flightradar24 shows the flight landed at 23:37 (gear sensor status changed to “ground” & the tracking stopped at 23:43, which will be the time the parking brake was applied.

          The first door (regardless of cargo or passenger door) will not have opened at the instant the aircraft was on blocks. Therefore there is a strong chance the first door opened beyond the 23:45 cutoff. The issue will be proving it, though BA using Block time as “evidence” to suport their position is shaky & not in accordance with the EU ruling.

        • Yes! The people across the asle from us were also checking their phones for time and thought BA missed the deadline also, so sounds like a few us believe they were after 11.45!

        • Kathryn says:

          It is a bit of an oddity that 1minute is the difference between hundreds of euros and f all!

        • Enigma368 says:

          BTW unless anything has changed in the last year, even in cases of delays that are much more cut and dry than this, you should expect BA to say no. Most people have to do MCOL to get the money which apparently always works – if you have a valid claim.

        • Kathryn says:

          So BA have responded to my complaint that they ‘arrived’ at 2343, I’ve asked them to explain how we can have a 4 minute disparity between what we observed and their records..

        • Thanks for keeping us informed Kathryn, I have just submitted my claim – I expect i will get the same answer but will let you know.

    • James S says:

      Having tried to claim from Monarch for exactly the same thing they don’t play ball.
      Took it to the CAA and 8 months later still waiting for a response via them!

  12. OT – does anyone know if upgrading an Amex gold to platinum using the recent offer (20k points for 1k spend in first 3 months) causes a hit on your credit file? Thanks.

    • I asked AMEX similar question a couple of weeks ago (about downgrading from Gold to Green) I don’t want any new applications or credit searches due to an upcoming mortgage application. A conversion of card type between green,gold and platinum does not require a new application or credit search.

      I must have missed this platinum offer. Was it mentioned on HFP?

      • Thanks Dom. It’s been mentioned on here in the comments a few times (sorry don’t have time to search for it now).

      • It appears to be targetted. It is too risky, especially as I hold a consumer credit licence, for me to write about if people upgrade to Plat and then don’t get the bonus – even if you downgrade, you don’t get a free period of Gold.

      • A quick search of my e-mails I don’t read and I have found an invitation. I’ll have a think about it.

    • Is it as simple as:
      Upgrade and pay £450 fee
      Spend £1000 in 3 months, to get points.
      Cancel/Downgrade and get pro-rata refund of fee?

      Or is there something i’m missing?

      • The snag is that you instantly paying for Amex Gold when you downgrade, no free first year. But apart from that ….

  13. James67 says:

    OT: BA reported to be leasing 6 used a380s. Good to see they have an interest in more of the big jets going forward. Will be interesting to see where they are coming from. MAS have 6 but if they come from them then MAS will need to deploy something else on their twice daily LHR rotation. It is possible they may come from Thai who aldo have 6, have struggled to make the best use of them, and are currently selling assets to reduce their debts. It will also be interesting to see if BA retrofits them, big disappointment if they do since both TG and MAS are better accross all classes than BA.

    • That is IAG voting that LHR never gets a new runway!

      Bit VS A350 order apparently due as well.

      • James67 says:

        I doubt BA ever wanted the new runway anyway, they have probably more to lose from increased competition than they have to gain from more slots. I saw the reports on virgin a350s too, will be interesting to see if tha is a get out deal on their a380s.

        • Shame – speaking as a no-Wing-Airport protester back in the day 🙂 – that nobody had the wit to suggest a wholesale takeover of the main London slot by Gatwick. No need for Boris Island, just turn Gatwick into a world-leading 4 runway airport a la Hong Kong fresh start with no need to do much more than pay off the locals. Far fewer people to annoy with noise; no more than 10-20 minutes extra travelling (for 60% of people) once you put the fast infrastructure in place; almost unlimited potential to expand over the next 500 years.

        • Andrew H says:

          In the last few years there was a Heathrow documentary on TV in which Willie Walsh did say we needed a new LHR runway. Of course when it was suggested recently that BA part pay for it, he was wildly against the runway!

  14. O/T my wife has just checked into her Accor hotel in Germany, she says they won’t accept her Iberia membership card. Given her pathological hatred of loyalty schemes, she has probably tried to use it as a credit card.

    Should her Accor hotel (generally/ any) have accepted an IB number?

    • Get the points onto her Accor Account and transfer them over to Iberia.

    • Accor don’t award Avios so no they wouldn’t have accepted the Iberia card.

      They award accor points that you can convert (or auto convert) to IB avios at your leisure.

      • OK thanks – I’ll email her the Accor a/c no (hers) & get her to get them to apply it after the event

        autoconvert should have made me work it out myself but bit rushed! she dashed back in 30 mins after leaving to change a suitcase lol

  15. XXKNNK 500 clubcard points when you spend £100 @ Tesco Wines

    = £12 off/ 1200 Avios

    • £100 spend a bit much. I got 300 clubcard points + the MR points by getting M&S gift vouchers from Tesco then ordering £100 of booze online the other week

      Had a slight issue when one didn’t get activated, went back the next day, the Tesco manager was very suspicious about me buying £600 of gift cards!

      • Most of us would decline the current Tesco offer, but I just put it up for info.

        My advice is to hold fire for the next ones, the usual 500 points for £60 spend – or possibly 1000 points. We’ve seen better but I doubt that’s likely any time soon.

  16. I recently flew to Toronto where they switched from a 788 to a 789 with the new first. If you had some status you could choose to sit in the new first. It was still Club service.

    However for some reason the blankets were still first class, the thin option was some pashmena grey thing and the thick one was like a duvet for a bed.

    The new first is definitely the best business class seat out there now.

  17. Peter Taysum says:

    Interesting piece on the BBC website.

    Interesting too that they all chose to hedge in the way they did (I doubt it). Options would have been another choice, then with falling oil prices they relinquish the option (at a cost) and buy at the lower price. If they’d done that they could have arbitraged for huge profits and still “justified” fuel surcharges (or “uniform surcharges” (sic) albeit by lying, but we know big companies don’t do that don’t we boys and girls?!)

    I hope no one on HfP would use the example they give to fly to New York as for 100 pounds and the same Avios you’d fly WTP with (very few) Tier Points and Avios (though I guess we’d mostly be ex EU in Club for around 760 and 360 Tier Points and cabin bonus Avios) or Madrid on Iberia…

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