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Tokyo has lower taxes when Avios flight tickets are booked as 2 x one-ways

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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 or

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, 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

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.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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.

Comments (93)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    OT anyone else notice 0 offers on their Amex, nothing on my Plat for SPG on web page or App?

    • Matt says:

      Same for me except that the saved offers are still visible.

    • Stu N says:

      Yes, assuming it’s a glitch in the matrix. If they don’t come back tomorrow I’ll be more concerned.

  • Roger says:

    For BA 241, can I use LHR-TYO and Return from KHG-LHR?

    • Roger says:

      Also if there is no return (OJ) availability from HKG or even TYO, can I always add return from any other destination?

      • pauldb says:

        You can pair TYO with any other point as long as the open segment is shorter than both flights. e.g. TYO-PEK is shorter than LON-PEK and LON-TYO. So all of the Far East is fine. If you would then hope to improve it if HKG opens up, bear in mind you cannot switch band – so you can change a BKK inbound to HKG but not PEK/SIN.

        • Roger says:

          Can I book one way now if there is seat availability for TYO but no return open yet and hoping that seat will open up before I take my outbound flight? In such scenario will I be able to use 241 voucher as long as it is booked before I take my outbound flight?

        • Roger says:

          sorry this is for next Easter so booking period is open but flights are not available to book!

        • pauldb says:

          Yes you can do that, though the £35pp change fee is less likely to be waived.

        • Callum says:

          Roger – if it’s for next Easter then the flights have already been released and booked by other people.

          It’s possible more will appear, but quite unlikely (and there will be many others looking for it too).

  • Tilly71 says:

    OT again(sorry)..
    I was HH Diamond through status match but didn’t make all the stays required so was downgraded to gold until Mar 20.
    I’ve just checked my HH account and now it states I will be “Member” tier in 2019 if I do not make all the stays required even though my physical card stated Mar 20?
    I take it the recent HH member changes have brought my gold back to Mar 20, If I CLICK on view my HH gold card it states not found.
    I’m about to get Amex Platinum, if I apply for gold through this channel will it extend my gold further than Mar 19?

    • Tilly71 says:

      Sorry,my statement should of said recent changes to the HH loyalty scheme, has it brought my tier status back to Mar 19 instead of what my physical card states – Mar 20?

  • Tom says:


    Agreed, but Irish departure tax is trivial compared to UK, and DUB airport fees are much less than LHR. So equivalent Dublin fares have always been hundreds cheaper every time I have looked.

    That said, you do need more time for repositioning and the high rollers may pay more to avoid that. Personally I am happy to spend a day or two in Dublin as part of a stopover to save that much.

    Decent flights from Dublin on EI and AC feature 4-across in Biz, versus 8-across on BA as well.

  • Michael says:

    Speaking of HKG and YQ/YR charges. Iberia try to charge them on avios tickets purchased through IB Plus meaning that a one way on BA metal ex HKG incurs around £250 in fees. Ordinarily it would be no issue to just transfer the avios to BAEC and book there. However, with the Iberia promo avios it’s not that simple. Does anyone have any ideas or experience in working around this? Calling IB Plus just gets stone-walled claiming I should pay the money then raise a complaint with customer services which seems a surefire way to never see that money again 😉

    • Nik says:

      I’m currently battling with Iberia over this. I’ve emailed rob but he just says, “BA have had a court case hence that’s why they don’t charge, nothing will change unless you put a case against Iberia.” I obviously don’t have the money to do that otherwise I wouldn’t be here looking for redemption bookings lol! However, via another travel blog, I got hold of an infernal Iberia contact, I’ve emailed them and she assured me that she will investigate with the IB Plus team and get back to me as to why this YQ/YR charge is being added to ex-HKG BA flights. I should hear back from her tomorrow. Let’s see what they say! I’m not risking my money with IB until I get a more affirmative response lol! Let me know if you have any luck!

      • Michael says:

        Will do, very interested to hear what your contact at IB has to say. Please let me know here if you have chance 🙂

        • Nik says:

          Will do for sure! I sent her screenshots of the pricing on BA, AA as well and compared it to IB Plus (not that it was needed, but knowing IB, thought best to attach as much “evidence” as possible!).

          I might try my hand at emailing a few other authors of popular travel blogs to see if they might be interested in covering it as a story in hope of them coercing IB’s PR to act!

  • Bails from Oz says:

    I have just emailed Iberia Plus customer service with details of the overcharged Carrier Charges for the BA redemption between HKG-LHR. I don’t hold out much luck with this one, even though In other dealings with IB+ they have responded in a timely manner, albeit with a somewhat gruff manner over the phone.

    • Nik says:

      Good one! Well hopefully, the more of us that raised maybe, though I don’t have much hope with Iberia, something might happen and these changes are looked into! After all if it is illegal to be charged and if BA themselves aren’t charging it on their own programme, why are IB?! Crazy! ????
      Wish Rob would cover an article on it instead of just stating it would have to be me making the court case! HFP has a lot of influence directly and indirectly. If all the travel blogs do it, then it’s bound to change. It happened with the Singapore points inaccuracies! Anyway, I’m not the website owner, so let’s see!

    • Bails from Oz says:

      As expected I received a response to the enquiry that as I had accepted the T&Cs there is no possibility of review. I have re-entered the enquiry and also forwarded to BA Customer Relations, as it appears that IB+ acting as the agent selling BA tickets is making up a carrier charge for this ticket, which would appear to be a form of fraud. I agree with you Nik that I would hope Rob could discuss this issue with his contacts within BA and Iberia as these sort of pricing errors without any possibility of review (except cancellation) are doing the reputation of both airlines no favours.
      Next point of call will be Social Media.

      • Nik says:

        Well the person I was speaking to within IB was not at work today and will be tomorrow, so hopefully she has received responses from the IB+ team with an explanation. Good that you’ve raised it with BA too! There is definitely foul play here, or maybe just an error in IB’s system that they’re unwilling to sort out when mediocre members of public like us try to raise it? Hence why been trying to grab attention of these blogs, tried Rob – no luck, tried another one, they don’t seem to be interested? I dunno?
        Let us know what happens at your end next though! 🙂

        • Nik says:

          Hi everyone,

          As an update, my Iberia colleague pulled all the strings and the issue is solved! It apparently appears that BA was sending Iberia the incorrect schedule of charges they’re supposed to levy or something which is what caused the carrier surcharge to remain? Somehow this makes me think maybe BA were playing foul and thought they could get away with it if they sneaked it into one of the lesser used OneWorld programmes! Either way it’s solved and there are no surcharges ex-HKG when redeemed via IB plus also! Victory! And I managed it without a court case haha! ????

    • Michael says:

      Fantastic! Well done 🙂

  • Nik says:

    *I meant Iberia contact! Not colleague lol!

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