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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)

  • Andrew says:

    It’s still not a great deal – return economy fares on randomly selected dates at £285 (HBO), save £100 offered for 17,000, earn back 10,000 (as Gold). So spend 7,000 and £185 for a return (and have more choice in dates and seats rather than Avios availability restrictions).

    • Lumma says:

      I’d view it more as another tool to use in this game. I always like good value one way tickets as it lets you create interesting itineraries, either through cash tickets or using points.

      There’s an opportunity for someone to do something like Madrid to New York in Iberia business and hop back to London on BA economy for quite a low cash and points amount, even including the flight to Madrid

      • Mikeact says:

        And it worked well for us ..

      • marcw says:

        Yes. I completely agree. Having the points/miles options gives your more cards to chose from. At the end of the day, you just chose the best cards.

  • Nick_C says:

    I’m anther fan of the day flight. I took the 07.55 flight back from JFK in May and had no jet lag. I was in CW but would consider doing it in PE next time. Its a short flight and too early to be drinking.

    The day flights are becoming very popular. First was full, and there were only 4 empty seats in CW.

    I paid about £150 to stay at JFK the night before, and it was well worth it. Would love to try the TWA Hotel next time.

    • Lumma says:

      I stayed in a fantastic Airbnb near JFK the last time I flew back on the day flight (10.25 American airlines flight) under £50 a night and less than $10 for an Uber.

      Was great to get home to sleep in my own bed after the flight rather than deal with the tube in the morning after no sleep on the plane

    • Lady London says:

      I wish there could be a Day Flight back from SFO SEA or anywhere in between.

      • marcw says:

        Don’t think that’s theoretically possible, unless plane leaves like 3 am from SFO.

      • Pgw says:

        I believe the longest day flight is AA ORD-LHR which arrives after 10 pm. The earliest arrival is BA BOS-LHR and United have a day flight from IAD. A few years ago US Airways operated PHL-LHR which allowed passengers from many other parts of the US to connect to but it was short lived.

  • Ben says:

    This is great news for me, an expat based in the US. I have plenty of Avios but no real use for them, getting the family back to the UK for 52,000 and 300 quid is great value (just need 4 seats available now!), esp with one ways available on Norwegian for the flight home

  • marcw says:

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

  • abs says:

    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?

    • Anna says:

      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.

      • abs says:

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

  • Tom says:

    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.

  • Richard says:

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

  • lgflyer says:

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

    • Luca says:

      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.

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