As I have mentioned a few times before on Head for Points, the oneworld airline alliance changed its rules on baggage handling late last year. They told member airlines that they no longer had to check through baggage between member airlines when the flights were on separate tickets.
What this means is that if you buy a ticket from London to Hong Kong on British Airways and then a separately ticketed (different booking reference) flight on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Sydney, there is no requirement to check your bags through. You would need to collect them in Hong Kong, pass through Hong Kong immigration, go to check-in and deposit your bags before passing back through security.
British Airways adopted this plan with gusto. They were so keen that BA even banned checked through baggage between two of its own flights. If you buy a cash ticket from Manchester to Heathrow to connect to an Avios ticket from Heathrow to, say, Tel Aviv – all on BA – you need to collect your bags in London, go landside and check them in again.
Why did this cost me £104 yesterday?
Due to work issues, my wife asked me to shorten our October holiday to the Middle East. The only outbound Avios flight that now worked for us was Heathrow to Doha (BA), connecting to Doha to Dubai (Qatar Airways).
Now, here’s the thing.
The taxes and charges on Heathrow to Doha are £305
The taxes and charges on Doha to Dubai are £36
The taxes and charges on Heathrow to Doha to Dubai are
Yes, you pay an extra £104 in taxes when you book this Avios trip on one ticket.
Why? Mainly because BA adds a ludicrous £90 one-way fuel surcharge to the teeny tiny hop between Doha and Dubai when it connects to a BA flight. BA pockets this money, it does NOT pass it to Qatar Airways.
If I book the two flights separately, I save £104. Across a family of four, I save £416.
But …. if I book the two flights separately, we need to collect our luggage in Doha, pass through Doha immigation, pay for a Qatar visa, trek through Hamad Airport – which is the biggest free-standing building on the planet IIRC – and recheck our bags.
Do you think I’m doing that with two little kids in tow at what will be (UK time) 4am? No chance. Especially as it would force me to take a later flight from Doha than would otherwise be necessary.
There is a partial solution
I have to say that the guy in the British Airways call centre in Newcastle who booked this for me was hugely apologetic about the stupidity of his own employers practices. Luckily I had an idea which saved me 75% of the extra £416 in taxes I was looking at paying.
My wife is now travelling on a through ticket, at £445 tax. All of our baggage will be checked through on her ticket.
My kids and I are on separate tickets for each flight, so the tax is ‘only’ £341 each.
I have therefore ‘saved’ £312 compared to what an uninitiated person who rang to make the same booking would have paid. On the other hand, I have paid £104 more than I would have paid if British Airways had not imposed their stupid ‘no checked through bags’ baggage policy.
Of course, I would also not have needed to pay the extra £104 if BA was not adding ‘fake’ fuel surcharges onto third-party flights for no other reason than they connect to a BA service. Adding a £90 fuel surcharge for the equivalent of flying London-Paris is ludicrous, especially when BA charges £0 fuel surcharge if that same flight is booked without a connection.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)