British Airways cuts taxes on one-way economy Avios redemptions FROM the US

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As we have covered on HFP in the past, the taxes on Avios redemptions from the United States to the UK are a lot higher than the taxes for a return flight from the UK to the US.

It isn’t clear why British Airways has chosen to add substantial extra surcharges to reward tickets issued in the USA which will be the case for any ticket starting there.  It is possibly to stop American Airlines frequent flyers using their AA miles to book BA reward seats (AA members tend to redeem only with AA transatlantic, as there are NO surcharges added to tickets).  It is also possible that it is done to offset the inflationary issuance of Avios – we have seen 100,000 Avios sign-up bonuses on US credit cards in the past.

Anyway …. there has been a shift.  In recent weeks, British Airways has sharply reduced the taxes on one-way ECONOMY Avios tickets which start in the US.

Here are the taxes for a one-way off-peak World Traveller / economy redemption from New York to London (click to enlarge) – £75:

and in World Traveller Plus (£203):

and in Club World (£504!):

and in FIRST (£664!):

As you can see, the tax on the World Traveller / economy ticket is now actually reasonable!  It is so low that it is potentially worth considering redeeming Avios rather than booking a cash ticket.

Now, I know that most HFP readers do not like redeeming in Economy.  I also know that virtually all flights from the US to the UK are overnight flights, which makes Economy even less bearable.

However ….. there are things to think about here.

Avios taxes on one-way flights from the US

Take New York.  There are two day flights from New York to London.  The 07.55 from JFK lands at 19.45, whilst the 10.25 from JFK lands at 22.10.

Economy for a relatively modest transatlantic flight during the day may be worth considering given the savings.  We’re comparing 13,000 Avios + £75 in taxes and charges (Economy one-way, US to UK) to 50,000 Avios + £504 in taxes and charges (Club World one-way, US to UK).  That is, however you cut it, a substantial difference.

I don’t normally recommend day flights from the US because you either ‘lose’ a day of sightseeing or, put another way, you are paying for another hotel night.  The sums above may change your mind though if you would be willing to fly back in Economy on a day flight.

Of course, you could argue that you could travel outwards on a day flight too, and make a substantial saving in both directions.  That is a very fair point.  I am just flagging this as another option to bear in mind, especially if you are low on Avios and can only afford Club World in one direction.

PS.  There are other ways of travelling to the USA whilst paying virtually nothing in taxes and charges.  The smart money redeems Avios on Iberia via Madrid (see this article) or on Aer Lingus via Dublin (see this article) where the return taxes and charges in Business will be around £175 and £75 respectively.  Paying £670 to British Airways in charges for a Club World return to New York is a bit nuts if you have the time to take a leisurely route.

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Comments

  1. Is this real or just a mistake. It looks like they forgot to add a 1 in front…

  2. I have tried pricing up a one way EWR-LHR-NCL in economy. I am getting 13000 avios + £181.92 whereas EWR – LHR is only £77.20 in tax and charges. How is it possible that a ‘free’ domestic connection increases the charges by over £100. It would be better value to book the domestic leg separately but then it would not be a guaranteed connection and need to collect baggage in LHR. Is there any way around this?

    • Have you clicked through to the next page on the booking form? Sometimes there are glitches with pricing flights with domestic connections which rectify themselves further along, However, adding a domestic leg often bumps the cash element up quite a bit so I would expect to see some increase.

      • I clicked through to the next page. The initial price was £114 and then jumps up to £181 on the next page.

  3. I’ve actually paid the £500 to £700 surcharges for a one-way award flight in J or F. Although it’s really annoying it can make sense in at least two situations:

    1) You have to travel at short notice and the alternative is a high cash fare

    2) One-way cash fares on BA can easily be more expensive than a round-trip ticket.

    That said, I prefer to redeem Avios on American, JAL, FinnAir or other OneWorld airlines where, you avoid the fees anyway.

  4. Richard says:

    This reduction is in a very limited set of competitive markets. Markets like ATL and AUS have not been reduced.

  5. lgflyer says:

    Those daytime flights back from the US are terrible for jetlag. I would rather take an overnight flight even in economy.

    • Ludicrous. A day flight in economy over a nightlight in business any day of the week. Get home, have some dinner and chill. The only reason it could be better for jetlag is that completely exhausts you!

      • lgflyer says:

        I think the worst jet lag I ever had was after a JFK-LHR day flight. The flight itself is great and pleasant because you are quite fresh and don’t feel tired, but good luck trying to get some sleep for the following couple of nights!
        Anyway it might be a good choice for some, and having a choice is always good!

      • Andrew says:

        Absolutely. I’m a major convert to daytime flights back to the UK.

        Night in an airport (ideally terminal) hotel. Fresh showered, relaxing flight back to the UK. Arrive at dusk in darkness. Home, light snack then off to bed at 11pm. Wake up lag free.

        I will often split my US trips to have the final night in Toronto, Boston, New York, Chicago or DC just to get a daytime transatlantic. Yes, you are paying for an extra hotel night, yes some say it is a “wasted day” – but it works for me.

        About the only place I don’t do that is Seattle, where I get the 13:30 flight which gets me back to the UK for just after midnight their time. I just stay awake for the flight. Nap for 3 hours when I get home, then back to normal that evening.

        It would be useful (for me) if at least one airline started offering a daytime flight to Scotland.

        • Lady London says:

          I hadn’t thought of taking that 1330 flight from SEA Andrew. That makes it pretty much a say flight! Thank you for that Andrew.

  6. Shoestring says:

    Looks like I won the £500 🙂

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  7. US-UK-Europe has not been reduced. Bad news for me as a US expat living in Europe!

    Example:
    JFK-LHR: £53.50 in carrier fees
    JFK-LHR-TXL: £144.10 in carrier fees
    BA removed fuel surcharges from short haul flights a few years ago so LHR-TXL on its own has zero carrier fees. Which means they are playing games with the amount charged on JFK-LHR.

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