28
May

Which Airlines Charge Fuel Surcharges (with downloadable chart)

Posted By Trav

inside the plane joke

[bluebox] This is part 3 of the Defeating the Fuel Surcharge Series.  Other posts can be found here:

[/bluebox]

You know what a fuel surcharge is, and you know how to find out how much it costs.  Now, it’s time to learn how to avoid them.

In theory, avoiding fuel surcharge is simple.  You simply have to avoid flights where they are charged.

The tricky part is knowing which flights charge them and which don’t, which is where this post comes in (hint: you may want to bookmark it for future reference)!

The MOST important thing to remember is that you follow the rules of the airline whose miles you are USING, not the airline who you are actually flying on.

Here is a handy chart to help you out.  You can also download it as a free PDF, but please give proper credit if you use it or any other websites or publications.

fuel surcharge chart

Airlines That NEVER Charge a Fuel Surcharge

If you use miles from these airlines, you’ll never pay the fuel surcharge.  Collect as many miles with these airlines as you can!

  • LAN
  • South African Air
  • TAM
  • EuroBonus (Blue1 Airlines and SAS Airlines)

Airlines That RARELY Charge a Fuel Surcharge

Most of the time, you won’t pay a fuel surcharge.  You’ll only get hit with one in very specific instances.

American Airlines

  • Charged when flying on:
    • British Airways- a huge fuel surcharge (think $500-700)
    • Iberia- a small fuel surcharge (think $150-250)
  • NOT charged on:
    • Everything else

Alaskan Airlines

  • Charged when flying on:
    • British Airways

Airlines that SOMETIMES Charges a Fuel Surcharge

These airlines are about 50-50 when it comes to charging a fuel surcharge, so be careful.

Delta

  • Charged when flying on:
    • All partner flights
    • Delta flights originating outside the US or Asia
  • NOT charged when flying on:
    • Delta flights originating in the US or Asia

Air Canada

  • Charged when flying on:
    • Adria
    • Air Canada
    • ANA
    • Asiana
    • Austrian
    • LOT Polish
    • Lufthansa
    • TAP Portugal
    • Thai
  • NOT charged when flying on:
    • Aegean
    • Air China
    • Air New Zealand
    • Avianca/TACA
    • Brussels
    • Copa
    • Croatia
    • EgyptAir
    • Ethiopian
    • SAS
    • Singapore
    • South African Airways
    • Swiss
    • TAM
    • Turkish
    • United
    • USAirways

Airlines That USUALLY Charge a Fuel Surcharge

These airlines almost always charge a fuel surcharge, but you can find specific examples of when they don’t.  Take advantage of those times!

ANA

  • NOT charged when flying on:
  • Charged when flying on:
    • ANA flights
    • All partners other than United or USAirways

British Airways

  • NOT charged when flying on:
    • Aer Lingus
    • LAN
    • airBerlin
    • American Airlines (if completely within Western Hemisphere)
    • Flights within Europe
  • Charged when flying on:
    • All British Airways flights except those wholly within Europe
    • All other partners than the ones listed above

Singapore Airlines

  • NOT charged when flying on:
  • Charged when flying on:
    • Singapore Airlines
    • Any partners other than United or USAirways

Lufthansa

  • NOT charged when flying on:
    • USAirways, all flights
    • LOT Polish, all flights
    • United Airways flights
      • within the US
      • US to Canada
      • US to Mexico or Caribbean
      • US to South America
  • Charged when flying on:
    • Lufthansa
    • All other partners
    • United Airway flights from
      • US to Europe
      • US to Asia

Airlines That ALWAYS Charge a Fuel Surcharge

You’ll want to avoid collecting miles with these airlines, as it’ll cost you an arm and a leg to redeem them.

  • All other international airlines that aren’t listed above will always charge a fuel surcharge.

Now that you know what flights you can take to avoid fuel surcharges, it’s time to figure out the best ways to earn miles with those airlines.

Head on over to Part 4: My Frequent Flyer Mile Earning Strategy to Avoid Fuel Surcharges.

The information in this post came from my own experience and the thread over at DansDeals, which was a huge help.  

If you notice anything that is incorrect, please let me know and I’ll fix it, as the airlines are constantly changing their rules.

(photo courtesy of DearEdward)

79 comments

  1. Joey says:

    Emirates started charging fuel surcharge on award redemptions recently.

    1. Trav says:

      @Joey- Oh really? On all award redemption flights?

      1. Yes, EK YQ is embedded in fare rules. However, AS does not pass the YQ. QF on the other hand does.

        1. Trav says:

          @Jeff- Are you saying that if you fly use Alaskan (AS) miles on Emirates, you won’t get hit with the fuel surcharge? Seems to be in line with Alaskan’s policies as a whole.

      2. Joey says:

        http://www.businesstraveller.com/news/emirates-to-introduce-fuel-surcharge-on-reward-

        Am a skywards member and received a letter about it a month ago. Not sure if this applies to redemption flights on their partners though.

        1. Trav says:

          @Joey- Thanks for the heads up with that. Looks like fuel surcharges aren’t too bad at least ($40 one way in economy from London to Dubai).

          I’ll make the changes on the post and chart and update.

  2. J says:

    See Finnair and Royal Jordanian—both in Oneworld. Does El Al, have surcharges?

  3. Jerry Mandel says:

    Not sure about Air Berlin.

    1. AB does not charge YQ with BA.

      1. Trav says:

        @Jerry Mandel- Yep, Jeff is right. If you use BA Avios points to fly Air Berlin, you won’t pay a fuel surcharge. Probably the best way to get across the pond.

        1. Jerry Mandel says:

          I’m puzzled. I checked itasoftware for JFK to Berlin on AB and it shows a big YQ.

          1. Trav says:

            @Jerry Mandel- The ITA Software shows the breakdown of a paid ticket, not an award ticket (one bought with miles). So in this case, there would be a fuel surcharge on that ticket if you bought it out of pocket, but if you use miles for the ticket, they do not charge you the YQ. That is why it’s important to know each airline’s rules, since some do charge the YQ on award tickets and some don’t.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I’m pretty sure BA charges them on AA flights between the US(prob all of NA) and Europe. Since they charge them on their own metal they don’t let you escape the YQ by redeeming on AA metal.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jeremy- Yeah, you are right. I meant to put that BA didn’t charge a fuel surcharge if you fly AA in the Western Hemisphere.

      However, if you fly AA using BA Avios and go to Europe, you will get a fuel surcharge 99% of the time. I have heard of some computer glitches that if you book AA metal on BA.com, people have avoided the fuel surcharge, but I believe this is very rare.

      I’ll make the changes now.

  5. Jerry Mandel says:

    See Finnair and Royal Jordanian-both in Oneworld. Not sure about El Al (code share with AA).

  6. Trav,

    Avios charges YQ on AA WHEN the routes are included in the JV (joint venture) with BA(TATL)/JL(TPAC) I think. So routes like LHR-DFW and NRT-LAX will have YQ.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jeff- Yep, I made a mistake when I was writing. You are right that BA charges a fuel surcharge when flying AA anywhere NOT in the Western Hemisphere.

      So if you go across the Atlantic to Europe or across the Pacific to Asia, you’ll get hit with a fuel surcharge if using BA Avios. Thanks for the heads up.

  7. Jon says:

    Delta no longer charges fuel surcharges on Virgin Australia, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t pay a fee when I redeemed my miles to Mexico on Aero Mexico.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jon- Did these flights originate in the US? I’m trying to figure out if they don’t charge on certain partners at all, or if they don’t charge on partners but the flights have to still originate in the US.

  8. DTO says:

    The Delta part is incorrect – Delta doesn’t charge fuel surcharge on about half of the partner airlines, like KE, VA, AF, KL, among others.

    1. Trav says:

      @DTO- Thank you for letting me know. Do you have a list of all the partners it doesn’t charge on? And do you know if the flights have to originate in the US to avoid the fuel surcharge on partners, or if it is any time you fly the partner regardless of where it originates?

  9. Lane says:

    Eye-opening. This page is now bookmarked for when I fly again.

  10. Jerry Mandel says:

    Trav-This looks like a contradiction for BA (not charged): Flights within Europe
    Charged when flying on:
    British Airways flights

    1. Trav says:

      @Jerry Mandel- Yeah, I’ve reworded that to be clearer. It should read that they charge on “British Airways flights that AREN’T within Europe”.

  11. Shudog says:

    i believe EK charges YQ when flying on their own metal.

  12. Shudog says:

    BA doesn’t charge YQ if flying within the western hemisphere. Also, they always charge crossing the pond (including AA) besides Air Lingus and Air Berlin.

    1. Trav says:

      @Shudog- According to the article Joey linked above, it seems like Emirates is now charging a fuel surcharge on ALL their reward tickets, metal and partner.

      Also, I’ve made the changes to the BA section to be more clear. .

  13. Murtuza says:

    Great Chart.. Bookmarked!

  14. Grant says:

    Congrats, you made it on my bookmark bar!

    1. Trav says:

      @Grant- Always a good day when that happens!

  15. ninmurai says:

    I thought British Airways DOES charge on Aer Lingus, just that the fuel surcharge is actually a very low number anyway?

    1. Trav says:

      @ninmurai- Hmmm, not sure about that one. I know that you can get tickets for really cheap by using BA Avios to fly on Aer Lingus (like $100), and I always thought it was taxes and fee and not a fuel surcharge, but maybe it is? If you find out for sure, let me know.

  16. Oliver2002 says:

    SAS Eurobonus charges YQ on partner redemptions but not on their own flights.

    1. Trav says:

      @Oliver2002- Oh really? That’s interesting, seems backwards from the way most people do it.

  17. Excellent post! I’ve never been charged a YQ when using SQ miles for NZ flights within the South Pacific such as BNE-AKL-RAR or PPT. Their YQ is ridiculous between Australia and Europe!

    1. Trav says:

      @Tara- So you weren’t charged a fuel surcharge for using Singapore Airlines flights on Air New Zealand flights? Is this a loophole that was previously unknown?

      1. It’s not a loophole that I am aware of. It’s just that the best use of my Aussie Amex MR is to transfer them to SQ and we like to travel to the South Pacific and NZ is the only one who flies these routes in *A. I learned my lesson using SQ miles when I redeemed BNE-SIN-BCN and got hit with over $400 in YQ back in 2010.

        1. Trav says:

          @Tara- Yeah, I just didn’t know that Singapore Airlines didn’t charge on Air New Zealand. That is news to me, and I think probably news to a lot of other people as well. It’s just strange because Singapore Airlines charges on almost all flights (other than United and USAirways) and Air Zealand charges on their flights, so it’s weird that it wouldn’t be charged when using Singapore Airlines miles on Air New Zealand.

          But thanks for the data point. I’m wondering if anyone else has had this experience as well?

  18. Dan says:

    Hey Trav,

    Seems like you’ve done a nice job of reformatting my original YQ chart that was a bit of a mess: http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=1592.0
    It was on my to-do list for ages but never got around to doing it because of the missing pieces.

    At any rate it’s DansDeals, not Dan’s Deal. At least I hope I have more than 1 ;)

    1. Trav says:

      @Dan- Sorry about the mistake there, you certainly do have more than 1! Also, a big personal thanks for putting that thread together long ago and keeping it up to date for so long. I’ve referenced it hundreds of times and finally decided to make a chart of my own. Please feel free to use it whenever you’d like!

  19. Jerry Mandel says:

    For clarity, I suggest YQ/YR. Both are used for fuel ripoffs. No idea why there are
    two of them.

  20. Jeffrey says:

    really nice to know this information and thanks for gathering it.

  21. Kerry says:

    Trav, I’ve used Avios to fly on Alaska (Horizon) from HLN to SEA and only paid $2.50. The other great thing about Avios is (according to the agent I spoke with), there’s no charge to cancel and put the Avios back. You lose the $2.50, or $5, but there’s not the $150 charge (or more) to CHANGE the flight — just cancel, turn the miles back and start again.

    1. Trav says:

      @Kerry- Oh, that is really great to know. I’d gladly pay the $2.50 or $5 to cancel the trip and get all my points back. Do you have any clue how far out you’d need to cancel to get the points back in and not pay a fee? Is there a certain date?

  22. ron says:

    Trav,

    Off the subject a little bit, I applied for the SW Companion CC’s as you mentioned and am waiting to hear back from them..I also set up an Amazon account to help meet the Min spending requirement with no prob….When I signed up for a Amazon Payment Account for my wife all went well until they asked for my ecommerce Web Site, which I have none. Can you help

  23. Jerry Mandel says:

    If on Air Berlin aircraft using AA miles (both in Oneworld), fuel surcharge going to/from Europe and within Europe?

  24. Andy Kremer says:

    Great job with this post! I was just talking to my brother about fuel surcharges, and the difficulty of knowing who charges what, especially when looking at partner airlines.

    Very helpful resource!

    1. Trav says:

      @Andy- Glad you liked it!

  25. Peter says:

    Can someone please confirm that LAN do not charge the surcharge when booking an award ticket on a oneworld carrier? There seems to be other sites saying they do?

    1. Trav says:

      @Peter- Are you talking about using LAN miles?

      1. Peter says:

        Hi Trav. Yes, using LANPASS Km’s. Another site states that the fuel surcharge is added when flying Oneworld carriers…..

        1. Trav says:

          @Peter- I’m not sure, as things do change with fuel surcharges from time to time. Where did you find that it said that fuel surcharge was charged?

          1. Peter says:

            Hi again Trav. The link below is the other site that has a similar table to yours. F.Y.I I did ring LAN and without giving me a definite answer, they advised that only, ‘taxes’ are added to the ticket cost. When I queried fuel surcharges the lady on the phone did not really understand what I was talking about, so maybe that means they do not!
            http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/fuel_surcharges-rewards_flights-1263.php

  26. Jerry Mandel says:

    This seems to be going around and around. My impression is flying on AA or BA or IB with AA miles or Avios or money to LHR or MAD-paid or award-you will have to pay YQ/YR fuel surcharges ripoff. In other words, no way to escape the charges. Please clarify.

    1. Trav says:

      @Jerry Mandel- IF you’re flying with BA to Europe, no matter what miles you are using, you’ll pay a huge fuel surcharge. A major rip off. If you are using AA miles to fly on Iberia, you’ll also pay a fuel surcharge, but it won’t be nearly as much, maybe $150 or so.

      I will bite the bullet and fly Iberia, because the charge isn’t much, but I avoid BA at all costs.

      1. Jerry Mandel says:

        But, if flying on AA aircraft (using AA miles or Avios) USA to LHR and MAD, what fuel surcharges?

  27. isac says:

    If possible please update the post for EVA and Qatar.

  28. GoodMXguy says:

    Hello. Thanks for your post. I have about 32000 Km in Aeromexico and I am trying to find the best strategy to use those points. It seems like I have to pay fuel-surcharge, but any idea, suggesting would be really helpful. there is not so much information about AM.

    1. Trav says:

      @GoodMXGuy- Yeah, with Aeromexico you’ll have to pay a fuel surcharge. Bummer, but still can be useful. Where do you want to go?

  29. Fabien Denry says:

    UPDATE 4 23 2015
    According to the Wall Street Journal;
    Did the Airlines Actually Eliminate Fuel Surcharges?
    No, they just renamed them; look out for ‘carrier-imposed charges’ and other fees

  30. I need to fly from Minneapolis MSP to Dublin DUB in June and back home again in December. I’ll be there 6 months. I want my son and husband to visit so I want to accumulate some miles so I can get a free flight or two. I’m thinking getting the British Airways Visa card with the 50,000 bonus Avios and then redeeming on Are Lingus. Does anyone see a problem with that plan? How many miles do I need to redeem a flight in economy? I read that it would be less Avios to book from Boston to DUB because that trip wold be just under 3,000. Is that still the case? Can I transfer United points to Avios (I have around 15,000)? Help please!

    1. Trav says:

      @Kristin McNeil- That plan definitely will work. The only issue becomes availability. If there isn’t availability with Aer Lingus, then those 50k BA aren’t going to get you to Europe. So it’s a bit of a guessing game.

      If you click here, you’ll get the Avios award chart. So, if you fly Boston to Dublin, you’re looking at 12.5k one way in economy.

      No, you can’t transfer United to Avios. If you want to see what cards you should apply for, you can fill out our free consultation form and we’ll get it back to you quickly (2-4 days).

  31. Alexandra Koeneke says:

    I have a question about code shares. I used ITA to find flights from DFW to London and was trying to avoid BA flights because of fuel charges. We are using AA miles to make this flight happen. I noticed that the AA flights had asterisks and that they are actually BA operated flights, but AA has a code share. So AA is giving the flight it’s own code and everything. If I book on the phone with a representative and mention the AA flight #, will I be able to avoid the BA fuel charge?

    1. Trav says:

      @Alexandra Koeneke- Unfortunately, probably not. Now….you could always call up and try to see if it would work, but 95% of the time, the computer will realize it’s a BA operated flight as well and will hit you with the fuel surcharge. But it doesn’t hurt to try.

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