Many Head for Points readers will know that not all Governments take the same happy view on airline surcharges that you get in the UK. Hong Kong and Brazil are two countries which are well known for having restrictions in place on what airlines can add to the base cost of a flight.
What I didn’t realise until this week is that Japan also imposes a cap.
A quick recap on Hong Kong
I’ll quickly recap the Hong Kong situation for anyone not familiar with it. Airlines are not allowed to levy surcharges on flights FROM Hong Kong when the journey originates there. This means that if you buy a return flight to Hong Kong starting in the UK, you WILL pay surcharges on both legs. If book your trip as two one-way flights, the return leg should be free of surcharges.
Here are some example using Avios redemptions booked at ba.com or avios.com:
Return business class flight to Hong Kong on Avios has taxes of £563
One-way business business class flight to Hong Kong on Avios has taxes of £365
One-way business class flight FROM Hong Kong on Avios has taxes of £33
Anyone with a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher is getting a raw deal because those tickets must booked out of the UK. You are being forced to overpay £165 per person in tax compared to booking each leg separately.
Let’s look at Tokyo
Until a reader pointed it out, I didn’t realise that Tokyo was in a similar position. Here is the cost of a business class Avios redemption to Tokyo:
Return business class flight to Tokyo on Avios has taxes of £548
One-way business business class flight to Tokyo on Avios has taxes of £365
One-way business class flight FROM Tokyo on Avios has taxes of £114
This means that, if you are not using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, you can save £69 per person by booking an Avios redemption on BA to Japan as 2 x one-way tickets.
PS. As usual, ba.com shows the incorrect taxes figure when you initially price up a flight online. You only see the correct number when you click through to the final payment page. This applies to many Avios flight quotes, not just Hong Kong and Tokyo.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (September 2023)
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.
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 10,500 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.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
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.