All Nippon Airways Cuts Fuel Surcharges (Great For Awards)

Filed Under: ANA

While Japan is off limits for most tourists at the moment, All Nippon Airways has at least made a positive change for when we can fly with the Japan-based Star Alliance airline again.

All Nippon Airways cuts fuel surcharges

ANA has this month updated fuel surcharges, and with this we’re seeing the airline more or less eliminate these pesky surcharges on itineraries to & from Japan. While ANA’s fuel surcharges page says that surcharges are “not applicable” for all itineraries to & from Japan, in reality ANA seems to have reduced fuel surcharges to $1 per segment.

In fairness, ANA never had particularly high surcharges. Previously a one-way New York to Tokyo flight would have ~$86 in fuel surcharges. This represents a massive reduction in fees, but at least the airline wasn’t charging $800+ one-way in fuel surcharges, as we see some other airlines do.

There are a couple of important things to understand here:

  • ANA is pretty dynamic about surcharges; the airline isn’t promising to never charge these again, but rather is updating them for now, to reflect the current situation
  • While there are no surcharges on itineraries to & from Japan, there are still surcharges on some tickets between other countries that simply transit Japan; for example, there are still fuel surcharges on itineraries from the US to China via Japan

ANA is virtually eliminating fuel surcharges

What are fuel surcharges, anyway?

For those of you not familiar with the concept of fuel surcharges, these are fees that airlines have been charging for years on tickets. They were introduced when oil prices were high many many years ago as a temporary measure, but for most airlines have never been eliminated.

Obviously that’s very convenient on their part — they add fees when costs go up, but airlines rarely eliminate them when costs go down.

Fuel surcharges are incredibly frustrating for consumers

What are the practical implications of ANA cutting carrier imposed surcharges?

With ANA cutting fuel surcharges on itineraries to & from Japan, what does that actually mean for consumers? Will tickets now be cheaper? Probably not.

For years airlines in most regions have had to advertise “all-in” pricing, meaning the pricing you see from an airline includes all taxes, fees, and (fuel) surcharges. Therefore generally airlines proportionally raise prices when this happens, in a way that corresponds to the eliminated fuel surcharges.

But there is a silver lining — many airlines pass on fuel surcharges on award tickets, while that will no longer be the case for itineraries to & from Japan. You can expect that if you’re redeeming miles for travel on ANA, you’ll likely only have to pay $1 per segment in surcharges.

Which programs does this impact, though? All Nippon Airways awards already didn’t trigger surcharges when booking through:

  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • United MileagePlus

All Nippon Airways awards did trigger surcharges when booking through:

This is great news for those redeeming miles

Bottom line

All Nippon Airways has virtually eliminated fuel surcharges at this point for itineraries to & from Japan. That’s a great development, though don’t expect revenue fares to get lower.

The biggest benefit here is for those redeeming miles, as there will no longer be fuel surcharges for most award tickets. This will make one of the world’s best sweet spot awards — redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles on ANA — an even better value.

(Tip of the hat to Straight To The Points via Frequent Miler)

  1. Any insight into whether fuel surcharges already paid for existing award bookings to japan (using virgin for 1st from JFK—NRT) will be refunded?

  2. These surcharges are a pile of steaming nonsense and should be rolled into the base fare for cash tickets.

    For redemption they can call them ‘redemption’ fees or ‘co-pay’ which would get them the cash but would be a more accurate description.

    Also in many countries fuel surcharges are illegal hence the change of name to ‘carrier imposed ‘ or ‘international’ surcharges.

  3. Did they used to incur these charges on A3 redemptions? Can’t see the breakdown of my reservation charges…

  4. A small correction: many of these started off as fuel surcharges, however most airlines now call it “carrier imposed fee” as it’s been a while since fuel was expensive and they were getting a bit of heat. In the end they still have to be paid, regardless of what they’re called.

  5. Important note: apparently the reduction in surcharges only applies to ANA’s own program. Using partner miles (such as Virgin Atlantic) to book ANA flights will not see the reduction. This only strengthens ANA’s own program.

  6. @ wadacash — I haven’t called Virgin Atlantic, but where have you heard that, because I don’t think it’s accurate? Airlines don’t typically impose surcharges on other airlines that they don’t charge directly, so all they can do here is charge what ANA is charging. I just priced out an ANA award through Aeroplan, and it shows the lower surcharges.

  7. Virgin Atlantic’s surchage are $200 less now. I still don’t have a data point of whether you will be refunded the difference or if they could rebook ($50 fee though, so net $150). If anyone has any luck getting the fees refunded or rebooked, please let me know (I have a trip booked for March/April). Last time I called Virgin Atlantic, it was over an hour wait, so I really don’t want to call if they won’t do it.

  8. Just realized the award booking i made two weeks ago already had the reduced fuel surcharge.

  9. The only way to have the previously paid surcharge refunded would be to cancel the existing award reservation and make a new one. But then, cancelling the reservation won’t always guarantee the seat back to inventory/availability bucket.

    I changed a return date which did not trigger the surcharge re-calculation unfortunately. This was with VS reservation desk.

  10. @no one

    Are you sure about that? If you have previously paid a surcharge for an itinerary yet unflown, and then the surcharges are reduced (surcharges are passed through from ANA to VS), you should only be charged the taxes/fees applicable to your itinerary at the time it is flown (not at the time it is ticketed). When you pay for an itinerary, you’re basically pre-paying the taxes and fees for your travel; but if those taxes/fees are reduced before you fly, they should refund you the difference.

    Of course if a fare itself decreases after you buy it, then nothing can be done about it, but if it’s a component of the fare such as a surcharge that is reduced as in this case across the board, I don’t see how you can be charged for this. It’s equivalent to being charged for something you’re not receiving.

    A VS reservations agent wouldn’t necessarily know, you’d have to push back on this and have them ask a supervisor. This might even be valid to dispute on your credit card if VS won’t refund the difference.

  11. I booked ANA through Virgin in March to secure the departure date I wanted and then recently changed the return when that became available. I spoke with two people at Virgin about the reduced fuel charges. One was very helpful, but as another commenter wrote, suggested the only way to rebook at the lower cost would be to cancel and hope that the inventory remained to rebook immediately. Even with the $100 cancel/change fee this would have been worth it to save the $350 in fees on two person booking, but I was not willing to risk losing the reservation. I spoke with a second Virgin rep while changing my return a second time, and he told me that “we do not refund differences on taxes and fees.” Since I was most concerned with snagging the elusive return in F to NYC, I chose to deal with this at a later time. Will report back if I have any success. What is interesting is that my newly emailed itinerary from Virgin clearly shows that total fees for 2 people is ~$115 (versus the original $450). It seems to me that since Virgin has sent no money to ANA yet, that Virgin has absolutely no right to keep the difference in fees owed to ANA under the original and current booking except that they want free money. Curious if anyone has anything to add.

  12. deepyarn, regardless of whether Virgin pays ANA the fee difference, you are dealing with Virgin, therefore they have no obligation to refund the fare difference to you. Some FFPs even charge a booking fee for booking (such as LifeMiles), which they keep themselves.

  13. @David – I agree that some programs charge a booking fee for partner awards, and if Virgin disclosed that they charged such a fee then I would pay it (or choose not to make the booking). This is different. This is Virgin keeping money for no reason. Had I made the identical booking several weeks after I had made it originally, the fees would have been $350 less. I paid that $350 because it was being charged by ANA and Virgin was required to charge it. Virgin is no longer obligated to pay that extra $350 to ANA so on what basis to they get to keep the difference? If Virgin can point me to any terms and conditions that state that any post booking reduction in partner award fees will not be refunded then so be it, but I suspect that they cannot and are simply looking to hold on to every bit of cash they can right now.

  14. Agree 100% with you Deepyarn. Keep us posted on what you find or if you’re able to get any resolution on this in future calls with VS.

  15. These are scam charges I would call it. All Airlines need to factor all cost into one final price of the ticket. I do not feel bad for the airlines going bankrupt during pandemic, keep squeezing customers for every penny when economy is great, when economy is bad why customers should help you, think customers to continue demand for bigger discount. Comes around goes around.

  16. I have a flight booked for next April through ANA on ANA metal. Would love to know if I would be able to call and get the fuel surcharge refunded.

  17. Ok, I just called VS (1.5 hour hold time + 45 mins on the phone) and here’s my data point:

    I explained the situation to a supervisor. The supervisor said that when they take the booking they charge the taxes charged by ANA and then remit that amount to ANA. So ANA has the money and theoretically should return it (but probably won’t), and VS isn’t going to call ANA on behalf of everyone who booked ANA through VS to get everyone’s money back.

    Therefore the only way to get a refund would be to cancel the original itinerary and then re-book a new itinerary, which I did. I had the agent find availability within a day of my original flights and she was able to reserve those, then she cancelled my original itinerary (the miles re-credit back to your Flying Club account immediately, taxes refund will take a few weeks) and then applied them to the new itinerary and charged me the new taxes/fees amount.

    Originally I had $230 of taxes/fees, the new taxes/fees rate was $57. Plus the $50 cancel penalty for the first itinerary. So comes out $123 savings for about 2 hours of time. Not hugely worth it, but not too bad. Probably worth doing if you can find availability close to your original dates.

  18. @Michael – Thank you very much for the update on what you found out. If I could find availability close to my current dates I would be willing to give this a shot, but I am seeing nothing available. Out of curiosity, why not just re-book your original dates? In theory they should have become available as soon as the original booking was cancelled?

  19. I’m not going to shake down Virgin for refunding their fees right now. I have two pending trips with 2 firstclass seats roundtrip in December and March. The way I see it, I would rather Virgin keep $800 and stay in business than me lose those 8 segments in first.

  20. @deepyarn where you actually able to snag a flight in first to JFK? I couldn’t find a single date available to/from JFK in March or April, and I was using Expert Flyer daily starting 335 days out. Never saw an opening on the new first class to either HND or NRT, though I was searching for 2 seats.

    In any case, I called VA today and after 1.5 hours on hold, I was told the same thing as you – they cannot issue a partial refund. I wasn’t ready to chance losing my award seats (mine are out of IAH in F) so I’m going to wait to see if a refund process is setup over the coming weeks/months that doesn’t involve having to cancel tickets.

    I’ll be monitoring this thread and maybe reddit, so if anyone comes across new information or success directly dealing with VA for a partial refund on fees/taxes, please post!

  21. @Daniel – I was unable to originally find anything in F (or J) in either direction from NYC to Tokyo on ANA. I made a booking from ORD > NRT out in F and back in J with a 3 day turnaround, but this was just to secure the outbound date I wanted. I then just kept checking the ANA site, mainly looking for later returns from NRT > ORD. About 3 weeks ago a lot more inventory in F back to ORD opened up and I checked and was surprised to find that a reasonable amount of space opened up in F back to NYC in the first and second weeks of May. So I woke up at 2am on the date that my preferred travel date first became bookable through Virgin in order to make sure I was at thr front of the line for that 7am U.K. call center start time.

  22. @deepyarn Sorry for the delay, I hadn’t checked back here to see if anyone else commented.

    I didn’t choose my original dates because there’s no guarantee that they’d be available after you cancel the itinerary with Virgin. The way I understand is that just because Virgin cancels them doesn’t mean that ANA immediately makes them available, nor are they necessarily immediately available for booking through VS. But I was lucky enough to get my outbound the day after my originally scheduled one and my return also just the day after, so it really doesn’t affect my schedule very much.

    Tons of F availability out of IAH in August when I was looking (hope Japan open by then). I had also been trying to for F out of JFK to try the new product, but could never find dates that worked for me (in F or J). Honestly it looks like J out of JFK is nicer than F out of IAH.

  23. @deepyarn very nice! just be wary of being in Japan over Golden Week as it sounds like your trip dates may intersect or come close to those dates.

  24. @Michael Thank you for the data points. Saved me 2 hours. I’ll have to see if any award flights on similar dates are available before I call.

  25. @ Michael – Thanks very much for the follow up response!

    @Daniel – Yes, my dates definitely fall over Golden Week. I plan to have all accommodation and travel booked well in advance, and will probably take advantage of the relative calm in Tokyo during the period when many residents are out of town.

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