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British Airways fees above ridiculous

The other day, I wanted to make a reservation using British Airways frequent flier miles for a flight between NYC and London. In business class. I looked and the flights I wanted were available for 100K miles. That's good. Then the fees.

British Airways is known for their high fees when using FF miles. In the past, I've paid around $1000 for a round trip flight in business class. Not too bad but not too good.

However, now, the fee is up to $1750. That's more than 50% of the cost of business class fare without miles.

I think I'll save my miles for codeshare flights on other airlines where the fees are lower.

Posted by
93 posts

You can move Avios (if that's the currency you're spending) over for use on Aer Lingus or Iberia. If it's AA miles you've got, they seem to route most of the award tickets via BA metal, just to mess with us.

Posted by
1905 posts

In the current situation, airlines probably need all income they can get.

Posted by
3190 posts

Frank, I don't know if you included seat reservation fees into your calculations or not. I'm always amazed that they charge such high seat reservation fees in addition to everything else. I wonder if your price would go down if you chose another UK airport other than London?

Posted by
7240 posts

Like Frank ll, the other day, just for fun, looked at using my Alaska miles for a trip from London to Seattle.

On AA there was ~$300 in London airport taxes, plus the US taxes for a total of ~$330
On BA there were the same taxes and US fees PLUS a BA add on of nearly $300 for a total ~$630.

That was, for BA, about the same as 'before', so really no increase. ( on that route anyway)

Posted by
357 posts

Yeah I'd never redeem miles for BA. Their fees are always absurd. Not coincidentally, when trying to redeem American Airlines miles to fly to Europe, the only inventory that was ever really available was with BA. Never anything available on AA itself. One of the reasons I essentially ditched One World.

Posted by
4533 posts

BA has been one of few airlines providing direct international service from Denver, so they’ve been our main airline for over 20 years. Fees have been relatively large, even when redeeming their Avios, but it seems a lot of that cost is due to Heathrow Airport fees, which are passed on to the customer. London and BA are a package deal, so it costs what it costs. The overall price is still cheaper using Avios than not.

Avios have been really useful for flights within Europe, where the associated fees have been less. And in the last couple of years before Covid-19, even with Avios applied to a flight, BA sometimes wasn’t so competitive, compared with Icelandair or Norwegian from Denver to Europe, and they used Gatwick, not Heathrow. The former is still operating in Denver, the latter, so the situation isn’t constant. Fees at Heathrow seem to remain constant. And if demand exists, Heathrow is poised to provide a landing site, for BA, and for a price.

Rick Steves said long ago that he doesn’t play a frequent flyer point game. He says it’s a racket, and not worth the bother.

Posted by
93 posts

Cyn,

On BA award tickets, or any award ticket on BA metal, only a fraction of BA's surcharge is actually mandated tax.

Also, heavy taxes at UK airports are actually for departures, not arrivals, and aren't exclusive to Heathrow. (Add, for what it's worth, they're tiered on both distance and cabin class.) So, if on a multi-country itinerary one can save a little money by routing so as not to return from via the UK.

Points/MIles probably are mostly a racket at the consumer level. But anyone that owns a business with lots of expenses that can be paid by card is leaving a lot of value on the table. My landscaper regularly flies business class just from points earned buying gas all year. (5 crews and trucks and gassing all the equipment adds up!)

Posted by
4533 posts

Scudder, there certainly are many elements in BA’s calculation of Avios + Fare charges. On some level, a “frequent flyer” program assumes they’re dealing with loyal customers, who have more devotion to an airline than a random passenger. Maybe they figure that gives them more leeway to overcharge, than if they were having to court a first-time flyer. Then once they get you on their plane, their customer service and amenities will reinforce the value on what they charge. The amenities, at least in World Traveller coach class, have been diminishing in the past 23 years, with personal entertainment screens at each seat now as a consolation, rather than one screen at the front for the whole cabin to view the feature film together.

Of course, taking regular customers for granted can erode that loyalty, especially in the ever-increasing competition for passengers, and more and more discount airlines entering the picture. And Avios are worth zero monetary value if unused, so getting something trimmed off of the full price is better than not getting any deal. Other airlines may offer a bigger rebate for their points, but BA apparently hasn’t gotten to the point that they’ve decided they need to lower their fees, when Avios are also being redeemed.

Posted by
366 posts

The main reason I like BA is because their carryon allowance is very generous (I fly economy). I really like to not have to check my bag (it usually weighs about 24 lbs-too high for most other international carriers).

Posted by
158 posts

Look at American Airlines new Premium Economy section
-usually 30000 plus 10000 = 40000 miles...

Posted by
982 posts

We use our Avios for hotels, both in the US and in Europe. We think we get the best value spending Avios on hotels, not flights.

Posted by
765 posts

Very few of the "miles" programs actually belong to the airlines any more. They used them as collateral to raise money.

Posted by
126 posts

I have to chuckle at this because been there/done that but also had some ridiculous things happen. When I was working, many trips to Uk/Europe and we had a corporate account in Uk with BA so I flew BA lots and lots. When I retired, being US based wanted to get rid of my miles. Had a consulting trip to UK/EU and used Avios for both me and spouse, extended the trip. Still tons of Avios. Next came another trip, used more Avios. Ah, success! Almost done with Avios! Nope, next thing I know I get a big fat amount of Avios due to a settled lawsuit for—BA overcharging fees! Aiee! So finally this trip this Fall I should be DONE with Avios. Had so many was able to pay for biz class plus everything else with them. After this trip (hopefully) will finally be down to about 200 Avios. But WTH coming all the way from LA.

Posted by
4516 posts

Avios is the frequent flyer "currency" shared by airlines within IAG, British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus being the biggest. They can also be spent with airlines in the Oneworld Alliance such as American and recently Alaskan and some other partners. You can move Avios around between the programmes you don't have to spend them via the airline you accumulate them in and this can be advantage in doing so.

Getting the best value from them is a complicated art but it is easiest to do so in the markets where they dominate, such as the UK, Ireland and Spain as there are more offers. Redemption on BA tends to be expensive; for transatlantic Iberia or Aer Lingus come cheaper.