British Airways adds £100 to the taxes and charges on business class Avios redemptions
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British Airways has introduced further stealth price increases to Avios redemptions as it raises the ‘taxes and fees’ element on Club World seats.
The price increase appears standard, with £100 added to all of the routes we looked at.
(Does this article sound familiar? It’s because we ran a virtually identical one on 13th February. These rises are on top of those rises.)
Let’s take a look.
With the help of some historical pricing data we sourced back in February from readers in the forums I’ve managed to put together a more comprehensive picture of what has happening over recent months.
The bad news is that the increased pricing seems to have occurred across BA’s network, and not just on transatlantic flights.
Whilst the February increases could be laid at the door of Heathrow’s increased charges and changes in Air Passenger Duty – and so British Airways was not pocketing the full amount – this is not the case here. It seems that BA has added substantial charges to cover the recent rises in fuel costs, even though around 60% of its fuel bill is hedged.
(I was with Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian yesterday and he told me that he doesn’t hedge fuel costs. Over the cycle, he wins, and his pockets are deep enough to see out the low points. Virgin Atlantic DOES hedge because it doesn’t have enough cash to get through the bad days.
British Airways proves Delta’s point. The airline lost over €1 billion due to fuel hedges over covid. It then decided to reduce the amount of hedging, just in time for kerosene to hit record levels.)
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 business class flights.
IMPORTANT: The prices we quote below are NOT the price you get on the initial booking page of ba.com. These prices are usually always incorrect. We quote the price you see when you click through to the passenger details section, which is the price you actually pay.
Dubai has increased by £165 since 2021.
Taxes and fees are now £707, up from £542 for an example we found in 2021.
£100 has been added this week.
Flights to Hong Kong have increased by a similar amount. Taxes and charges are now £755, an increase of £162 on an example we found from last year.
£100 of this £162 has been added this week.
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 is now £747 return in Club World.
When we looked at this route back in February, it hadn’t changed at all vs 2021.
£100 has been added this week.
Los Angeles is now at £842 return.
This is £170 more than you would have paid back in 2021.
The Maldives has also seen a £100 price increase since last month.
The current Business Class taxes and charges figure is £833, versus £616 in 2021.
We often benchmark our pricing against New York given how hugely influential the route is for British Airways.
As of yesterday, you will pay £842. (Ignore the £990 you see on the initial pricing screen.)
This is up from £675 in mid 2021.
It is worth remembering that we have seen cash fares on TAP Portugal as low as £900 recently, albeit flying via Lisbon or Porto. Other airline schemes may also charge far less. Use Emirates Skywards miles to fly JetBlue to New York and you won’t pay ANY surcharges – just Air Passenger Duty and airport fees.
What about flights starting in Inverness or 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 £675. This is substantially less than the £842 charged if you start your journey in London, although of course you need to factor in the cost of getting to Inverness.
One upside of Inverness and Jersey is that they can be booked with old style 2-4-1 Amex companion vouchers. If you have a ‘new’ 2-4-1 issued since September 2021 on the Premium Plus card, you can use this to start a redemption outside the UK in Dublin, Amsterdam etc.
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:
- British Airways appears to have added £100 return to Business Class long-haul Avios redemptions overnight
- This is on top of rises in February, which disproportionately hit flights to the US
Does Nectar make more sense until fuel surcharges drop?
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.
The Nectar maths now begins to look more compelling if you don’t have an American Express 2-4-1 voucher.
New York on a peak date is 120,000 Avios plus £842 of taxes and charges.
Because those 120,000 Avios have an alternative value of £960 at Argos, Sainsburys etc, your flight is actually ‘costing’ you (£960 + £842) £1,802.
You can buy a cash ticket for FAR less than this, probably with a hotel thrown in. British Airways launched a BA Holidays sale yesterday with Club World flights to New York and four nights in a hotel from £1,599 per person. You won’t be struggling for availability either …..
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.
And, of course, you can still use your Avios for low-tax redemptions from Spain with Iberia or long haul with Aer Lingus.
Heading to Asia? Once the Qatar Airways / Avios partnership launches, you will be able to fly with Qatar Airways with no surcharges at all, just taxes and airport fees.
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.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express 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 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 American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
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.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable 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
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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
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.
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) and free for a year 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.