One item of news that flew under the radar recently was that British Airways actually reduced fuel surcharges (aka “carrier imposed fees”, or just “YQ”) on some US to UK routes.
“What's the catch”
We'd love for this to be a reduction right across the board, but it's not sadly.
YQ reductions are only for redemptions in economy class and on these specific routes going to London:
- Boston — London
- Los Angeles — London
- Miami — London
- New York City (JFK / EWR) — London (LGW, LHR) (Note that JFK – London City is excluded as it is Club World only)
- Orlando — London (LGW)
- San Francisco — London
- San Jose — London
- Seattle — London
AND you cannot take advantage of the ‘free' UK domestic connection, e.g. San Francisco -> London -> Manchester, as this domestic sector will not trigger the reduced carrier imposed charges.
Similarly USA-> UK -> EU fares which were previously zero rated on the UK->EU sector also appear to make you pay higher YQ.
For eligible routes your total cash component should be around £75 / $91USD while this is increased to, or more correctly ‘maintained' at, about £170 for World Traveller fares not on the list. This goes up to about £200 in World Traveller Plus, £500 for Club World and £600 for First. (The last two are quite ludicrous given recent sale fares…)
Testing it out
Example of reduced fare.
You can verify this for yourself if you look at the Avios Spending Calculator. Below are screenshots if you try out to price out an Avios redemption for World Traveller for San Francisco – London…
…but when you try to book this fare into World Traveller Plus (or any non-World Traveller fare)
Example of ineligible route.
Here we have Austin to London which is an ineligible route for the lower carrier imposed surcharges.
and similarly for World Traveller Plus.
One very interesting side effect of this YQ reduction is it actually starts to make sense to pay more cash and reduce the Avios you spend, when you're presented with the list of prices. According to the Avios Spending Calculator, if I put in New York to London in economy class, you are presented with these prices:
At the lower end of the off-peak price scale, if you start comparing the price per Avios when you pay more cash you get (rounding to the nearest £):
- 13000 Avios + £75 (base price)
- 10400 Avios + £100 (0.96p per Avios)
- 8450 Avios + £115 (0.88p per Avios)
- 6500 Avios + £125 (0.77p per Avios)
- 5200 Avios + £135 (0.77p per Avios)
- 4550 Avios + £140 (0.77p per Avios)
While 0.77p per Avios may not be a gamechanger of a deal on its own, remember that Avios redemption prices do not change as the flight date draws nearer. So if you are OK with flying in economy class and fancy a quick trip from New York to London for the weekend, this may well be a great deal for you if you have the flexibility or have an urgent last-minute need to fly, e.g. family emergencies.
Although if you want to fly Business Class you will certainly save a huge chunk if you transfer your Avios to Iberia and redeem on their own metal. You must of course factor in the time to get to Madrid vs the cash you do save, but done during off peak seasons this works extremely well as an alternative.
(Thanks to TPGUK)