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British Airways adds £60 – £100+ to the taxes and charges on business class Avios redemptions

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British Airways has introduced further stealth price increases in the cost of Avios redemptions as it raises the ‘taxes and fees’ element on Club World seats.

The price increase is not standard across the board. The biggest jump I have found is £113 return, with other routes ‘only’ seeing an increase of £60.

Let’s take a look.

British Airways increases Avios taxes and charges

On Friday, Michele at Turning Left for Less flagged that the charges had increased by over £100 on transatlantic routes.

I thought it was worth a closer look, and with the help of some historical pricing data from readers in the forums I’ve managed to put together a more comprehensive picture of what is happening. The bad news is that the increased pricing seems to have occurred across BA’s network, and not just on transatlantic flights.

What is not entirely clear is why this has been done.

Heathrow has increased its passenger charges sharply, with Air Passenger Duty also increasing. British Airways is not pocketing the full amount of the increase in taxes and charges. It may be, for those routes where the increase is around £60, that BA is not taking any of the extra money.

This is not the case of transatlantic routes, however, where there is no justification for £100+ increases in taxes and charges.

Avios taxes and charges increase

How have BA Avios redemption prices changed in 2022?

Here are the taxes and fees charged by British Airways for a number of key routes.

In each case I have used pricing data from across 2021 – dates vary depending on what reader data we could source – and compared it to prices that ba.com is charging now for flights in January 2023.

Bangkok

I originally booked a redemption to Bangkok in February 2021 for travel this month and paid £598 in taxes and fees per person.

Checking the BA website again you’d now be charged £657, an increase of £59:

Avios redemption bangkok

Dubai

Dubai has increased by £63, an increase of 11% year on year. Taxes and fees are now £605, up from £542 for an example we found in 2021.

Avios pricing dubai

Hong Kong

Flights to Hong Kong have increased by a similarly modest amount. Taxes and charges are now £653, an increase of £62 or just over 10% year on year.

Avios pricing hong kong

Hong Kong is an unusual case. Unless you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, it is cheaper to book two one-way tickets than a return due to the extremely low taxes charged on the return sector.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg pricing is the outlier here, with prices hovering around their 2021 rates. If anything, it has decreased by a couple of pounds, with taxes and fees around £647 in 2021 versus £643 now. We can possibly peg this down to currency movements.

Avios pricing johannesburg

Bizarrely, Cape Town redemptions do appear to be higher. Reader George K booked a redemption to Cape Town with £599 charges in 2021 but the route now prices at £663, a similar increase to both Dubai and Hong Kong.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is now at £789 return. We don’t have a 2021 number for comparison, but we know that Las Vegas is also now £789 versus £672 last year.

Avios pricing los angeles

Maldives

The Maldives have also seen a £100+ price increase, with the cash element of a redemption totalling £616 in 2021 versus £728 now. That’s an increase of £112 or 18%.

Avios pricing maldives

New York

We often benchmark our pricing against New York given how hugely influential the route is for British Airways. This is another big riser, with an increase of £113, or 15%. Charges were £675 in 2021 but are now £788.

It is worth remembering that we have seen cash fares on TAP Portugal as low as £900 recently, and it is not unusual for BA Holidays to sell Club World flights plus three nights in a decent hotel for as low as £1,299 in a sale.

Avios pricing new york

Rio de Janeiro

Let’s take a look at South American flights, with Rio as our representative example. If you want to enjoy the samba it looks like you’ll be paying £75 more than you would had you booked your flights in 2021, with taxes and charges now at £648 per person versus £573 in 2021. That’s a 13% increase.

Avios pricing rio de janeiro

San Francisco

Here’s another North American example. Interestingly, it looks like British Airways now charges a flat rate of £788 for all flights to the United States, regardless of whether they are East or West Coast.

Avios pricing san francisco

You would have paid £676 in late 2021 (Rob paid £661 in early 2021) so that’s another 16% increase or £112 in total.

Singapore

Similar to Hong Kong, taxes and charges to Singapore have increased by a more moderate 10% or £64 in the past year. You are now charged £671:

Avios pricing singapore

What about flights starting outside the UK?

Historically, one of the easiest ways to avoid the sky-high British Airways taxes and charges is to start your journey outside the UK.

This is partly because there is no Air Passenger Duty if you transit through the UK rather than starting your journey here. In addition, Inverness and Jersey – the latter technically not in the UK of course – also price cheaper because no APD is due there.

I did a dummy booking to New York, originating in Inverness and connecting in London, and the taxes and charges came to £621. This is substantially less than the £788 charged if you start your journey in London, although of course you need to factor in the cost of getting to Inverness.

Inverness Airport

What conclusions can we draw from the data?

Having looked at a range of routes from BA’s long haul network there are some clear patterns emerging:

  • In all cases except one, British Airways is adding above-inflationary increases.
  • The biggest change to redemption pricing has happened on flights to the United States, with rates increasing by £100+ to all the cities we checked. You can now expect to pay c.15% more in taxes and charges than you would have done last year.
  • Asia is less severely impacted, with a change of ‘just’ 10% or so.

Conclusion

Are reward flights still good value? That depends on how you value your Avios. If you earn most of your Avios from business travel then you earn them at no cost to you. Of course, you still have the opportunity to cash out for 0.8p per point via Nectar so you need to be aware of the value you get.

It is different for anyone who earns the bulk of their points from credit card spend, for example. This is because you are effectively ‘buying’ the Avios by choosing to use an Avios-earning credit card rather than a cashback card.

It is, with a bit of ingenuity, still possible to find good Avios redemptions. By starting in a neighbouring country, for example, you can combine a long-haul trip with a visit to Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam or another city.

And, of course, you can still use your Avios for low-tax redemptions from Spain with Iberia.

Avios flights are flexible, of course. This has been less important during covid due to BA’s ‘Book With Confidence’ guarantee but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that pulled soon. Don’t underestimate the value of flexibility.

By increasing the taxes and charges on redemption flights BA makes redeeming your Avios on partner airlines more attractive, which tend to charge less. You can now book Avios redemptions on 25 global airlines including Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and more. You can find out more about redeeming on partner airlines and the Avios partner reward chart here.

If you have any other good examples of price rises, please let us know in the comments.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2022)

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. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

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

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 card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

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

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Amex Gold

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

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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 10,000 Avios.

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Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

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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

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.

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American Express Business Gold

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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 (246)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Track says:

    If this and other moves allows BA/IAG to escape an equity rise in 2022 — the move is good for shareholders and the company.

    But largely, yes airport charges around the world, fuel more expensive — what do you think those COVID restrictions come for at no cost. Running inflation is well above 5% and 7.4%, why would airfares/YQ stay the same.

  • will says:

    Avios still have some decent uses
    – RFS to Europe
    – 2-4-1 still offer decent value on some routes esp in 1st
    – Certain domestic flights, Aus, japan, USA
    – If you need cancellation flexibility

    I’m pretty much done with long haul and Avios though, once you price the Avios now at the nectar rate and take into account the restrictive dates it’s hardly ever worth it vs a cash ticket.

    Personally I’m sat on a reasonably big stash and will continue to change 50k to nectar each month.

    • Alan says:

      Plus RFS to Europe pretty much useless unless departing from London since they charged for the domestic leg.

  • john says:

    I booked a reward WTP flight to PHL on 31stJan for March with a 2for1. I converted it to a FTV to extend the 2for1 and am now going in April/May.

    The taxes / fees quoted now for the same flight are 80pence cheaper than before.. £455.06 per passenger. I suspect that this is currency fluctuation as most of the US fees decreased by about 10 or 20p except Immigration User Fee – USA which didn’t.

  • Peter Sheridan says:

    Does anyone know if the same increases have been applied to cash tickets? Surely the airport charges and increased fuel prices should apply.

    • Rob says:

      Makes no difference to cash tickets. Fares are set by a separate team based on what competitors charge.

      • dougzz99 says:

        Is that right? Usually the TFC are the same on cash and redemption tickets no? Sure they adjust the fare to reach an overall price, but the increases would typically be the same across both.

        • Rob says:

          RevMan says that you need to price NYC at £309 today to be competitive.

          It makes no difference if that means £9 plus £300 tax or £300 plus £9 tax. The selling price is what the RevMan team say.

          (If someone buys an economy Virgin seat off our links, we are often told the purchase was for £2 and we will be paid 2p. We are only commissioned on base fare.)

          It is not unusual to see negative base fares, albeit the system can only handle them by reducing the surcharge.

          • Track says:

            Negative prices hit again.

            Refunding means an airline keeps YQ and charges you negative base fare. Would be a very captive move, don’t give LH and others an idea..

  • Malcolm says:

    This worries me as I am wondering what’s the point?
    But I’m a simple soul and still think it’s worth saving Avios?
    Paid £2,200 + 275000 avios for 4 to travel Inverness to LAX (return) this summer in club world. Using 2x 2-4-1 vouchers
    4 business class tickets on same flights now costing £12,500.
    I’m saving money aren’t I???
    Happy to be advised otherwise.

    • Freddy says:

      That’s working on the assumption you’d actually have paid £12500 on that route in any event

    • will says:

      I’m not sure if you live near INV or not, if you don’t that’s 2 changes and 3 flights each way.
      You could fly, for example, MAD-HEL-LAX for £1400, or DUB-LHR-LAX or DUB-LHR-LAX for <£1200 per person this summer, all based on oneworld, many more options if you are not fussed about oneworld.

      All of those routes will get you a stash of TP's and a bunch of Avios (assuming already BA silver around 20-30k avios per person) plus you'll have a much better range of date possibilities than Avios.

      If you fly direct in which case you can argue convenience then its about 137k avios + £788 LHR-LAX (good luck finding a CW avios seat on that route) which is £1884 – no avios no TP's. Direct flights booked a few months our are about £3.5k, one connection flights are pricing at £1800-£2000 cash.

      Personally, I'd take the cash as nectar now and worry about paying for the flights for cash on the dates I wanted to book, either flying direct economy or with a connection.

  • Scott says:

    275000 Avios have a floor cost (using Nectar) of £2200, plus your £2200 in fees = £1100 per person is what you’ve effectively paid for these flights.
    How much would you have been willing to pay for an all-cash flight? That will tell you whether you’ve saved money.

    • Malcolm says:

      Thanks Scott – yes that’s what I’d thought the avios were worth so it really is a simple as that £4,400 vs £12,500. How much am I willing to pay – 4 pax in economy on same flights is £2,500 so really paying £1,900 for upgrade to business. Seems like still a good deal to me.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Don’t forget to include the cost of the positioning flights to Inverness vs a straight cash ticket. I agree, at first blush it appears to be value for money but without the 2-4-1 it would have been hideously expensive, seemingly more than a cash ticket. Don’t only compare to what BA is pricing in CW, which isn’t a competitive product on non Club Suite services and overall is no better than its competition even where Club Suite is offered. Check Google Flights in Business across all carriers. LAX is a competitive route. I suspect the overall redemption cost without a 2-4-1 is higher than a cash fare that would offer full freedom about dates, times and not having to first fly to the capital of the Highlands. 2-4-1 vouchers are supposed to be a real treat, turning a good value redemption into a bargain as a reward for your business. Instead, they now appear to be a necessary entry ticket to make redemption flights half sensibly priced, which was never the point. I’ve always thought what about solo travellers or people travelling in a group that isn’t divisible by 2? It appears BA no longer wants their business.

        • CarpalTravel says:

          Also the cost of the fee card(s) in the first place. Especially relevant going forward, what with the BAPP price increase.

  • Richard Gordon says:

    Was told taxes had increased significantly on the GGL line this afternoon for using joker. Staff member said she’d double check as she couldn’t believe the cash required had jumped on an upgrade from premium economy to club world to jfk rtn to £365 from around £60 (she thought).

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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