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Something I never knew …. Tokyo has lower taxes when Avios tickets 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.

Avios taxes on flights to Tokyo

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.

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  1. whilst BA charge 114 gbp on points flights ex-TYO other airlines charge a lot less.

    i recently used up some Delta points and paid just 4 gbp in taxes/fees (economy or business class)

    it looks like IB charge 71 quid in economy and 80 quid in business class – so not a great saving over BA.

  2. I needed last min tickets during cherry blossom period last year and found this out accidentally. Booked through BA and it spit out one way lon to narita via Helsinki and returning direct from Haneda. Cost £250 in taxes for 2 adults and child. Thought I got lucky but now u explain it I understand!

    • Have a look at kinosakionsen, it’s a bit of a trek but can be worked in with Tokyo/Kyoto. Stayed for one night but wish I’d stayed longer. If you are in Hiroshima, try to get to Miyajima, the Shinto shrine is spectacular especially at sunset.

      • Also, the limo bus from Haneda into Tokyo is very efficient and good value.

  3. I’m flying out to Haneda with my wife in First next weekend using my 241 voucher. Whilst I’m still annoyed at paying over a grand in “tax” I still can’t complain.

    Any tips on Japan on a postcard please????

    • Genghis says:

      Where are you going exactly? I lived there for a couple of years. I gave the tip of going to Koya-san (just south of Osaka) to a French colleague recently and he said he had a great time there. I’m off to Tokyo next month but only two days for leisure, the rest work.

      • The norm for first timers – 5 days Tokyo, 2 in Kyoto, 1 day in Hiroshima and 1 day in Osaka on the way back to Haneda. All on Avios, IHG and Honors point????????

        • Genghis says:

          Where are you going for onsen? I’m going to Hakone next month but only as it’s close to Tokyo. I’ve been before and not a patch on those in Kyushu.

          By the looks of it, take a portable fan!

      • here here, i spent some time in Koya-San. Also went to Mount Koya and spent a night a monastery. Very relaxing.

      • I must say this is the first trip I’ve not planned pretty meticulously, and I will have a lot of cramping to do this week!

        I would love to try the best Onsen nearest the cities we are visiting, or on Route. Thanks for the tips so far.

        • Genghis says:

          You can always go back! Himeji castle (can put luggage in lockers at Himeji station) is impressive. For onsen, best option if you can spare a day in Tokyo, go to Hakone (I’m going to Hakone Green Plaza hotel and Hakone Yuryo onsen next month).

        • +1 for Himeji Castle, alternative to the lockers is to use Ta-Q-Bin and forward your cases.

      • Octopus says:

        I’ll be flying to haneda on a first class 241 redemption in a few weeks time arriving around 7am and planning to fly on to Osaka Itami on JAL at either 11.30am or 2.30pm.

        Any tips on what there is to do in 4.5 hours near Haneda or 7.5 hours? There does not appear to be a one World arrivals lounge at Haneda?

        • ankomonkey says:

          Haneda is pretty close (<30 mins by train) to Shinagawa, Kawasaki and Yokohama. Yokohama has a good Chinatown (including Pandaman – panda-styled dumplings with sweet bean paste inside), the ramen museum, Minato Mirai (ferris wheel, rides, shops), Red Brick Warehouse (fancy shopping), a fairly big park (I think it's called Yamashita-koen) and more. Or hit Shinagawa or Kawasaki for izakaya (food and booze) and karaoke!

    • Used hotel points in all the cities and a rail pass to wizz around but splashed out on this hotel –

      Highly recommend it – every room guarantees view of Mt Fuji

    • My tips are hire a Wi-fi dongle and get an IC card which you load up and use on the Metro but can also be used to pay in convenience stores, some vending machines and even temples all over the country.

      We spent the evening watching the Tanabata fireworks in Sendai. Yesterday we went to Matsushima and it was wonderful.

    • We may be on the same cabin.. I’m on BA7 F next Saturday!

    • ankomonkey says:

      Summer is fireworks season. Try to catch one of the public shows, they’re usually excellent, especially if companies with offices nearby compete to outdo each other.

  4. If one way avios business class flights from TYO are £114 in tax, how come I got charged £228 the other day?

    • Jonathan says:

      Were you on a 241? You both have to pay full taxes/fees/surcharges, it’s only 2nd persons Avios that are “free”. Failing that was it return leg? The fees for a return are not the same as for same journey booked as 2 singles as BA surcharges vary depending on origin of a return booking. This gives some opportunities ie. Tokyo/HKG cheaper as two singles, American destinations more expensive as singles (assuming UK origin).

  5. To best see the effect of UK taxes and fees I priced out an American airlines RT business class ticket to Chicago from both LHR and DUB.

    OK, it was different equipment but the ex-Ireland fare was about a grand cheaper. Even allowing for a ferry from Holyhead, a cab to the airport and a night in a hotel, that still saved me hundreds of pounds.

    Less flying time too and US pre-clear both help as well.

    • That difference in price isn’t just about taxes and surcharges though it’s about supply and demand.

    • Willie Walsh thinks of dub as lhr 3rd runway!

  6. Fastbowler says:

    Interesting article. I booked a 241 voucher redemption on Friday night to Tokyo using the phone to add the return leg. The taxes were indeed lower than I had been expecting..

    I think Tokyo has now become our personal sweet spot for 241 redemptions. We went to Japan for the first time in 2017 on a 241 redemption but using Inside Japan to plan the trip. This worked very well for first time visitors. Next year though we are confident now to plan the trip ourselves. We plan to go straight to the excellent Four Seasons Hotel in Kyoto for five days and then fly down from Osaka Kansai to the Yaeyama islands which we really enjoyed last time and want to explore further.

  7. Graham Walsh says:

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

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

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

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

    • 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.

        • 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?

        • 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).

  9. 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?

  10. AndyR

    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.

  11. 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 😉

    • 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 🙂

        • 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!

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