Is British Airways planning to eliminate fuel surcharges?

My, my, my. British Airways. Now you’ve gone and done it – changed your award chart again.

I don’t care about the changes they’ve made to mileage earned for the various fare buckets – I mean, it truly sucks if you’re loyal to them as a frequent flyer. My relationship with British Airways is as an earner of Avios and redeemer of short haul flights on partner airlines.

I’ll admit, though, I was enamored of the idea of the Travel Together ticket until I woke up today and tried to get through their mess of an explanation email.

Screenshot 2015-01-28 23.10.11

Wait. What happened?

In the end, I feel relatively unscathed. The only thing I want, as an US-based flyer is those partner short-haul awards. Ooooh, yasss.

But, this does change things

I am still trying to piece together my manufactured spend strategy for this year, and was going to gun for the Travel Together ticket. With the increase on First and Business Class awards, combined with the dreaded… fuel surcharges… I just can’t.

I even thought, in a moment of wild fury, about canceling my Chase British Airways Visa Signature. It would free up a Chase slot and since I’m no longer getting the Travel Together ticket, it’s kinda like, who cares?

The only good thing about it is that it earns 1.25 Avios on all non-bonused spend, but I can earn 1.5 Membership Rewards on all non-bonused spend with the American Express EveryDay Preferred and just transfer them over. Better earning rate and a more flexible currency. The only thing tying me to that card was the Travel Together ticket.

I’m blathering. You get it. My one reason floated away on a cloud of confusion.


The point here is that there are a lot of British Airways Avios out in the world. They partner with Chase, American Express, and Diners Club as transfer partners, and their main co-branded card features an earning rate better than 1:1. Suffice it to say that a devaluation was near.

Why now?

The silver lining/pipe dream I can see in here is that they are inflating their award chart and decreasing their earnings on certain fare classes because they want fewer Avios out in the world… and in doing so, are planning on using more Avios to cover the cost of the fares because they are planning to cut from somewhere else. The only place I can see where they would feel pressure to cut is the fuel surcharges.

Virgin Australia, Qantas, and JAL are all reducing their fuel surcharges lately. Will British Airways?

If they decided to drastically reduce the fuel surcharges, I’d consider paying more Avios for the Travel Together ticket… because then the economics would make more sense. (Like the free ~$20,000 trip to Paris in which I didn’t like the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.)

Anyway, color me confused with what British Airways is doing. Maybe they are just following their American counterparts (Delta and United) and becoming more customer UN-“friendly.” Or maybe they have something else altogether planned.

Bottom line

Forgive my late night ruminations that are mostly babble, but I was able to somehow convince myself that the increase of award ticket and reduction of mileage earning meant that British Airways was taking out of one pot to put in another. And that fuel surcharges would fall as their award rates rose and earning rates fell.

In any regard, thanks to British Airways for re-directing my manufactured spend strategy for the rest of 2015. I’d already run $1,000 in PayPal My Cash cards through my British Airways Visa Signature and, I am constantly targeted for the 80,000 point IHG card. At least I’ll have a few extra Avios waiting for a top-off. And possibly a Chase slot opening soon.

Chase emails me this constantly

Chase emails me this constantly

In any regard, very glad they didn’t hit us where it really would’ve hurt: those domestic short-hauls.

One more quick thought: 3 months isn’t enough notice for me for program changes. I’d like at least 6. British Airways doesn’t exactly have a good history of giving proper notice of changes to their award chart, and stuff like this reminds me that it is a far, far better thing to earn and burn rather than use mileage accounts as a saving account.

What do you guys think? Is this an indicator of some sort? Does this change anything for you personally?

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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  1. I think there are winners and losers, as I wrote in my most recent post. For people like me who mostly use them to do short-haul flights in the US, I’d say this is a net win. The reason is that even though that award chart stays the same, I had been worried about even WORSE things happening (like doubling of the 4500 Avios required for a Zone 1 flight)

    • From my perspective, they did increase the short-hauls, from 13,500 one-way to 18,000 miles one-way. I LOATHE COACH… 🙂

  2. I’ve only used Avios to redeem on AA domestic and BA hasn’t changed its award chart on that so these changes won’t really affect me. I do hope they decrease their fuel surcharges. At the moment, I normally use AAdvantage miles to redeem on BA premium cabins (never ex-LHR; just going to LHR). 😉

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