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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.

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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Comments (95)

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    I’ve looked at booking a single GIG to LHR on BA with avoid and the final payment page appears to add the surcharge back in again?

    • davefl says:

      I did that exact route last year priced at 102k avios + £27 for 1st Class.

      Made very welcome use of the lounge at GIG for a nice shower before boarding and the Concorde lounge at LHR during a 5 hour layover for the hop back to MAN.

    • signol says:

      I’ve looked, and indeed it is on Try booking the same on or via Iberia. I’m thinking of a Rio trip next year, with IB outbound from MAD, BA inbound.


  • Alex W says:

    “As usual, shows the incorrect taxes figure when you initially price up a flight online” do they do this on purpose to discourage people from booking one ways? Seems under handed to me.

  • ADS says:

    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.

  • Jo says:

    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!

    • Craig says:

      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.

      • Craig says:

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

  • Daz says:

    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.

      • DAZ says:

        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!

      • Rts says:

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

      • Daz says:

        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).

        • Craig says:

          +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!

    • Jo says:

      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

    • Kevin says:

      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.

    • S says:

      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.

  • Ali says:

    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).

  • Tom says:

    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.

    • AndyR says:

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

    • Polly says:

      Willie Walsh thinks of dub as lhr 3rd runway!