British Airways Introduces Award Redemption With Dramatically Lower Surcharges

British Airways offers good award availability, for instance a minimum of 4 business class award seats per flight, but the knock on them has long been the surcharges. BA has charged up to $1600 roundtrip just for U.S. – London.

Surcharges originating in the U.K. are lower, which also mean you save money booking two one way tickets. Roughly speaking a U.K. roundtrip incurred $800, while a U.S.-originating one-way and a U.K.-originating return meant as much as $1200 instead of the full $1600. That’s still choke-worthy.

However British Airways has introduced a ‘Reward Flight Saver’ option for long haul premium cabin travel that – as long as you’ve earned at least 1 Avios in the last 12 months – lets you pay more miles for substantially reduced surcharges. God Save The Points was first to report on this change.

Compare off-peak award pricing, roundtrip from New York to London:

  • Original: 100,000 Avios, $1400 surcharge
  • Reward saver: 160,000 Avios, $700 surcharge

60,000 additional miles roundtrip saves $700 or 1.17 cents per mile buys down the surcharge.

A few points,

  • I’d consider booking the outbound at 80,000 miles and $350, and the return at 50,000 miles and $400 for the best deal arbitraging the difference between what BA charges for U.S.-originating itineraries versus the lower surcharges on U.K. ones.

  • This makes the ‘travel together’ ticket offered with qualifying spend on a British Airways credit card more valuable.

  • Points with British Airways transfer partners Chase, Amex, Capital One, and Bilt become somewhat more useful.

  • Since this is done as ‘Reward Flight Saver’, older ‘fewer points, more cash’ is still available. And that’s actually a bad thing. Basic BA redemption prices still have high fuel surcharges, so it’s still extortionate to book British Airways flights using partner miles like American AAdvantage and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. (For premium cabin BA awards using partner miles you’ll want to stick with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, a transfer partner of Amex, Citi, Capital One, and Bilt.)

The gold standard for eliminating fuel surcharges and only increasing redemption prices modestly is Aeroplan – for instance, East Coast – Europe went up ~ 10% in points in exchange for dropping fuel surcharges… not 60%. Still, this option may be worthwhile.

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