inside the plane joke

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


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.


  • 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!


  • 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


  • 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)

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