I want to take a look today at a British Airways redemption trick which even old hands can forget. Before booking a RETURN European redemption with Avios, check out the taxes if you book the trip as two separate one-way trips. You may save money.
The reason for this is that British Airways removed fuel surcharges from short-haul flights a few years ago. This had an impact on redemptions. Despite the fuel price creeping back up – and another £50 or so being whacked on long-haul premium redemptions a few weeks ago – short-haul remains immune.
Without any fuel surcharge to contend with, almost all of the ‘taxes’ you still incur on a short haul redemption are incurred on the London leg of your journey. This is primarily Air Passenger Duty and Heathrow’s excessive Passenger Service Charge.
Coming home, some overseas airports do not levy any airport charges and there is no APD to pay.
As the Reward Flight Saver fee of £35 in Euro Traveller and £50 in Club Europe is halved on one-way flights, you may be overpaying if you book a return flight from London instead of two one-way tickets. This is because BA reduces the RFS fee if the actual taxes and charges are less than £17.50 Euro Traveller / £25 Club Europe.
Here is an example.
An economy return to Luxembourg (pictured above, a pleasant place for a lazy weekend break) incurs Reward Flight Saver fees of £35. If you book it as two one-ways, the fee is only £17.50 outbound plus £3.40 inbound, for a total of £20.90. You save £14.10 per person.
Dublin, a more common destination, also generates a small saving. The inbound charge is £10.00. This means you save £7.50 per person booking as 2 x one-way flights.
This does not always work. However, it is always worth checking it out. Even if it doesn’t work for economy trips, it may save you money when booking Club Europe. One way flights from Hamburg to London cost £17.50 in taxes in economy so you don’t save anything. In business, however, you pay £20.50 which saves you £4.50 per person.
Even if you thought that you may end up cancelling your trip, in Euro Traveller it is still cheaper to book such a trip as 2 x one-way flights. The £35 cancellation fee is actually capped at the lower of £35 or the tax paid. As the tax is never more than £17.50 each way, you cannot be worse off when cancelling.
This doesn’t necessarily work for Club Europe. If you book as a return flight, your cancellation charge is £35. If you book 2 x one-way flights, your cancellation fee is capped at £25 x 2 = £50 fee. You could end up worse off booking Club Europe as 2 x one-ways if you have to cancel.
If you remember the points above, you may save a few pounds on your next short-haul redemption.
Don’t try booking long-haul flights as 2 x one-ways as the fuel surcharges are markedly higher in the majority of cases.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (October 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.