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British Airways cuts taxes on one-way economy Avios flight 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.

British Airways BA 777X 777 9X

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.

How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2021)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

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

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel 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

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company 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:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (60)

  • Ben says:

    We should stop ever using the euphemistic term “taxes” for this.

    • Gromit says:

      Completely agree, even BA more honestly describe the additions as ‘taxes, fees, and carrier charges’.
      The genuine taxes content is often tiny.

  • Emma says:

    I’m wondering whether it’ll be worthwhile trying to get flights to MCO next summer using this method or Aer Lingus via Dublin.

    It’ll be 2ad 1ch and I’d like WTP as a minimum but prefer club.

    Which of the two options would be best in terms of avios cost and taxes?

    I know I’d have to book the two legs separately but would there be 3 seats in WTP and club with avios or would I be limited to economy?

  • Ben says:

    Does anyone have any tips for routes to lower taxes to Bermuda m? Struggling at the moment.

    • Polly says:

      Aer lingus to usa then AA internally maybe?

      • Lady London says:

        +1. That was always the way to avoid outrageous fares/charges/former restrictions from UK to Bermuda/Cayman/Caribbean.

        • Polly says:

          Yes, but only if we have the spare time to do a connection “internally’ from within the USA out to the islands. Well worth the cash savings once you have a stock of avios/advantage.

          See we got us a nit picker named teacher next comment!

      • Teacher says:


  • Michael C says:

    I’ve just been looking at the AA dayflight back, preceded by a night in the new PanAm hotel at JFK could be fun & easy solution & no stressful taxi!

    • courtster says:

      That’s what I’m doing with the kids next year to help their jet-lag, a night in the TWA hotel then onto the 0755 home. Much more bearable for everyone involved!

  • LondonFlyer says:

    Is it the YQ that’s changed, or the actual taxes?

    • xcalx says:

      Fare for 1 adult
      Fare 1: Carrier BA SNN3C9B5 NYC to LON (rules)
      Passenger type ADT, one-way fare, booking code S
      Covers JFK-LHR (Economy)
      Carrier-imposed surcharge (YQ)
      US International Departure Tax (US)
      US September 11th Security Fee (AY)
      US Passenger Facility Charge (XF)
      Subtotal per passenger
      Number of passengers
      Subtotal For 1 adult

    • xcalx says:

      Provide this information to a travel agent to help them match the fares found.
      Make sure to provide the exact booking and fare codes shown.
      Fare for 1 adult
      Fare 1: Carrier BA DNN0C9S3 NYC to LON (rules)
      Passenger type ADT, one-way fare, booking code D
      Covers JFK-LHR (Business)
      Carrier-imposed surcharge (YQ)
      US International Departure Tax (US)
      US September 11th Security Fee (AY)
      US Passenger Facility Charge (XF)
      Subtotal per passenger
      Number of passengers
      Subtotal For 1 adult

      No change in Taxes (same for club and economy) all down to reduced YQ in economy

  • Lee says:

    Hi 🙂

    If I want to buy an expensive laptop from Dixons at LHR will a flight to anywhere qualify?

    I do not recall needing to fly outside the EU as you need for some alcohol.

    As the laptop is around £3,000 I think there is a saving to be made.

    I was thinking of a quick back to back flight somewhere.

    • TM says:

      A return flight to Switzerland would be a departure to outside the EU. You could also see what the price is in the US, as depending on its make, the savings could fund your flights there.

      • Lady London says:

        Is Switzerland not in the EEA, so duty would apply same as EC?

      • Lady London says:

        IMI that used to be the case. However the falk in the UK pound’s value seems to have as good as annihilated that possibility.

        What you do still get in the USA, however, is new chips etc. available there often much sooner. Plus some product variants may only be available in particular markets.

        If Switzerland counts as non-EU in Dixon’s for this type of purchase then I would like to know as I have to replace a couple of things. Was going to Germany or Austria anyway but could switch to Switzerland.

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I though the price you see on the ticket is the price you pay. Unless when you show your boarding card they change it but I don’t remember seeing that.

      • Joseph Heenan says:

        That’s certainly how it worked last time I tried.

        What that means is that if you are able to claim back the VAT, you want to buy when travelling within the EU, or on your return leg. If you’re flying to somewhere outside the EU Dixon’s won’t charge the VAT, won’t issue a VAT receipt and they pocket the difference…

    • Concerto says:

      Things like that can be surprisingly good value in Switzerland, if you happen to be going there. Not everything there is ridiculously expensive.

      • Lady london says:

        Concerto is there anyplace you would recommend there as well as, presumably, mediamarkt? Coop? Micros? Is Saturn there? I find Saturn has good choice in Germany.

    • Alex W says:

      I remember reading about people buying a fully flex ticket, getting boozed up all day in the lounges, cancel flight, go home again. Dunno if it’s still a thing but could work for a quick shopping spree!

      • Lady London says:

        Would be illegal, sadly, and when i had to do that by accident once i remember the person who escorted me back to landside asking me particularly if i had bought any duty free as it would have to be returned on the way out to landside – they were making a real point of it.

  • Pgw says:

    I’m a fan if the day flights but they are much better suited to those whose journey ends at LHR because, with a tiny few exceptions, it’s impossible to connect to a UK regional flight the same day. Having to overnight at LHR rather defeats the object.

    • mvcvz says:

      LHR is more convenient for close who live close by, rather than those who live some distance away. Thanks for the acute insight.

  • Richard says:

    I am a huge fan of the daytime flights back from the East Coast.

    Because of the flight being so short, even in business class you will be lucky get over 4hrs of sleep, the day you arrive back in the UK is bound to be a horrible, jet lagged, tired and unproductive day. You don’t feel human until at very least the next morning, and still have a few days adjusting time zones.

    On the other hand, if you take the day flight, land at LHR 8:30pm, in bed by 11:30pm even living a little bit away from London, and then get a solid sleep in your own bed and re adjust way way faster.

    So I see it as buying you an extra night on holiday, in exchange for not having a horrid tired day in the UK. Easy win.

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