Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why I just lost £104 (and nearly £416) to BA’s stupid new baggage policy

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

It’s a great idea, clearly ……  So great that some airlines, such as Qatar Airways and Cathay Pacific, have already partially or completely back-tracked on it.

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 £341 £445

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 credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (January 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

There are two official British Airways American Express cards:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

(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.)

Comments (134)

  • AB says:

    I recently flown BA (unfortunately) to the Maldives and my goodness they have come down from what they used to be, a day or so after the flight, I had one of those marketing research e-mails and I had my revenge for their bellow par service of late and I let them have a piece of my mind.

    • RussellH says:

      I always assume that those “marketing research e-mails” are sent a) because the new management guides say that you should b) because they hope that they will make you believe that they actually might take your comments, good or bad, on board.

      Taking this logic further, I assume that the replies go either c) all into a black hole or d) are scanned for a few specific glowing phrases, with the negative ones all diverted in to the black hoile and the good ones sent to a holding pen, from where they can be fished out to ‘prove’ just how good the company is.

      “No, m’lud, never get any serious complaints,”

  • Concerto says:

    Even Rob’s going to become anti BA at this rate. I really don’t think they would get away with all these negative things in other European countries somehow. There are definitely other options out there, which I use.

  • Wobbly Wings says:

    We all agree it’s ridiculous. They’re just milking their pax out of the monopoly they bullied the regulators to create. Nothing will change before IAG has to compete and at this rate and at this rate I am not sure when this will happen.

    Small suggestion: I wish we could at least agree to call the co-pay element of the awards as “taxes”. They are not, other taxes other than in a minor part. Let’s call them for what they are: charges, fees, co-pay, cash-requirement. Anything we want, but let’s stop calling them taxes. Or if we must let’s say “charges and taxes”. BA are keen to mislead that the cash element has nothing to do with them (taxes, oil prices), whereas it’s all to do with them.

    • Polly says:

      Very true Wobbly Wings!

      • Anna says:

        I call them “admin fees” when I have to explain them to anyone. I think this term is widely interpreted as the means by which the retailer rips off the customer!

        • Wobbly Wings says:

          I love “admin fees”! This is what we should all call them.
          Apologies for my initial post in haste (was in a hurry).

    • JAXBA says:

      BA doesn’t actually call the YQ a tax; in the call centre we were taught to say “taxes, fees and carrier charges” – a mouthful but exactly what they are. The initialism TFCs makes it easier…

      It’s only because the YQ appears in the tax field on a ticket that the lazy generic term ‘taxes’ is used – it’s kind of like referring to a generic cola as Coke. Everyone knows what it means, nobody really tries to correct it, but pedants still know it’s not right…

      Start using the term TFCs and you’ll feel better.

  • Axil23 says:

    To me even a 2-4-1 doesn’t make sense. Lets looks at Dubai for instance. AA requires 170k plus £200 tax. BA requires 120k + £1000 tax. Yes its 50k cheaper but you end up paying £800 extra. AA lets you fly EY on their A380’s with 4 across and with BA you get well BA.

    • Rob says:

      But that assumes you can generate 170k AA miles easily ….

      • Will says:

        Do AA have a shop Rob? That’s the only I can think it could work?

        • Rob says:

          There is a mall, yes. And they have a UK credit card and they are a Starwood transfer partner at the usual decent 1:1.25 rate. But 170k is still a lot ….

  • Mr Cinnamon says:

    The 241 is the clincher for me, plus relatively easy to collect Avios from many non-flight purchases.

    Poor availability of reward flights has led to me booking trips to places I would not normally have considered visiting and so far not been disappointed with the destinations.

    Upcoming First returns to Tokyo for £500 each is a bargain.

    • Will says:

      Oh yeah? Any other sweet spots? Mexico City seemed to have decent availability.

    • Anna says:

      I agree, there’s no way I’d be able to take the family on holiday in CW otherwise. Now if another airline and credit card offered something comparable…

  • Will says:

    Rob – I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous!! No wonder you felt compelled to vent your rage. My traditional thoughts were one of the perks of a legacy operator like BA was the ability to connect with ease. Re-checking baggage is one thing (which one might be able to handle) but charging for that privilege is obscene.

  • Josh says:

    How is it possible to pre-arrange a visa for Qatar fee-free, if not flying QR?

    • Polly says:

      Don’t think you can

      • Rob says:

        Didn’t know that. Makes the situation even more of a pain then.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          only $20 on arrival though so cheaper than the BA surcharges

          As you say hassle factor with the kids so makes sense. Flying QR first to Dubai?

          • the real harry1 says:

            compared to their demanding road licence test it’s not so bad – didn’t have to do it until we got their police commissioner in London for drunk driving, then he retaliated

            1. reverse hill start up a 45 degree hill (artificial slope)
            2. dodging in and out of stupid bollards about 4m apart plus reverse parking into a slot
            3. show your road skills by driving on the real (empty) road – PS there are 3 Indian chappies in the back waiting their turn.

            All at 4am as it was Ramadan.

  • Jason says:

    OT…can i book Marriott reward stay abroad for my mum and dad?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, just make sure you put a note in the booking saying your parent will check in. If you ring the call centre they may (or may not) be willing to change the name on the booking, otherwise name one parent as 2nd guest.