A Trick To Largely Avoiding British Airways’ Awful Surcharges

Filed Under: Awards, British Airways

Earlier I wrote about how British Airways massively hiked their carrier imposed surcharges for travel originating in the US. Want to fly first class roundtrip between Boston and London using miles? That’ll now cost you over $1,800, in addition to the points required. That’s obscene.

I doubt this will last for long, and for that matter it won’t be useful to everyone, but YHBU notes an interesting workaround to avoid a bulk of the British Airways surcharges on award tickets.

The Iberia Plus program is an Avios program that runs parallel to British Airways Executive Club. There are some significant differences between the two programs, though also a lot of similarities. In general Iberia Avios are pretty easy to come by:

Anyway, there is a way to use Iberia Plus Avios to avoid many of these surcharges with a workaround. You can do this by including an economy connection on the same ticket, in which case it seems to charge the economy surcharges rather than the first or business class surcharges.

For example, let’s look at the same Boston to London flight in first class.

The cost is still 68,000 Avios plus 664EUR, which is the same cost that British Airways charges directly.

Now let’s assume you’re connecting to Frankfurt (you search this entire itinerary as a one-way).

Suddenly the ticket costs 506EUR. That’s still similar to what British Airways charges, since the surcharges can often vary based on the market you’re flying to.

But now let’s look at the same itinerary with the connection in economy. One of the cool things about Iberia Plus is that when you look at a connection, you can choose which cabin you want for each flight. So in the above example, you could choose to fly from Boston to London in first class, and then from London to Frankfurt in economy.

Suddenly the cost is just 72,000 Avios plus 165EUR.

This would even work in the other direction. Let’s say you flew from Frankfurt to London to Boston, with the first segment in economy and second segment in first class.

You’d pay 72,000 Avios plus 248EUR.

This is an incredible workaround that decreases surcharges by about two thirds.

This seems to work as long as you have one segment in economy on the reservation. You need to search this as a one-way, and then when you see the results you’ll have the option to select which flight you want in which cabin, pending availability. Flying one segment within Europe in economy shouldn’t be a big deal at all, especially given that it’s not like business class within Europe is much to get excited about.

You’ll want to avoid skipping segments on this itinerary in general:

  • If you’re flying Frankfurt to London to Boston and skip the first flight, your London to Boston flight will be canceled
  • If you’re checking bags, your bags will be checked through to your final destination
  • Technically booking a ticket without the intent to fly all segments violates ticketing rules

But if you’re traveling hand luggage only, there’s nothing stopping you from flying from Boston to London and then skipping the flight to Frankfurt.

Like I said, I doubt this opportunity will last, but if you’re looking to redeem for British Airways first class (in particular some expiring Iberia Avios), this is an excellent opportunity.

  1. How funny, I actually noticed this when booking a one way BA F award with the Iberia Avios. Those savings make the one hour in the back of the plane a lot more bearable!

  2. “But if you’re traveling hand luggage only, there’s nothing stopping you from flying from Boston to London and then skipping the flight to Frankfurt.”

    Except for violating the tariff as you are knowingly throwing away a flight coupon. Similar to other tariff violations. Correct that nothing is stopping you, but watch out for getting caught.

    Agree with other commenter… should consider deleting or at least making it clear of the risks associated with this. I never thought OMAAT would consider encouraging readers to violate tariffs… disapointed.

  3. saw this while desperately trying to find a way to use my IB 90K miles. A lot of times you cab find LGW departures to some EU destinations so that allows you to get your bags since you have to transfer between LHR and LGW.
    but, I bet someone in Avios is frantically typing to IB IT department as we speak…

  4. @Paul – that’s why it’s a “trick”. Don’t act like stuff like this isn’t what the fun part of this hobby is all about.

  5. How is this different from hidden-city ticketing? You should at least let people know that airlines will hate this.

  6. I did this a few weeks ago and didn’t fly the economy leg. I have asked BA to refund me the fare for the unused segment. Talked to a few supervisors and a revenue specialist. They have been looking into it ever since.

    I think I might get back the $50.61 for the unused segment. I have a good feeling about this.

  7. Ben I don’t understand how are you finding those search results. I’m running the exact same search, flights, and on same dates and Iberia is showing nothing for me. Do you have to have a certain number of miles, or age of account for search results to show? Or did availability just vanish from the time of your post to now? Or do you have to search round trip only for results to show? I don’t know. Thanks and cheers!

  8. Surprised by the outrage of some of the posters here…this is the age of trump where all that matters is winning, no matter how.

    Only suckers and losers don’t take advantage of loopholes.

    Just look at Saudi Arabia now, why should a single tortured and murdered journalist hamper a great arms deal…

  9. “… why should a single tortured and murdered journalist hamper a great arms deal…”

    A. Because his arms were missing when they transported him?

    Yuk, yuk.

    As to tariff violations I know a very good federal criminal defense attorney, who warned me that MS could be deemed a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    Unlikely, you’d think. But my point is I’m sure there’s some federal criminal statute this might fit within. Just a guess on that since nobody knows how many federal crimes exist.

    I get to hear about the absurd cases that are brought. If you’re not a federal crim defense atty you wouldn’t believe some of the crap:

    A Democratic operative invited to listen to a Repub conference call and given the conference call code by one of the Republicans, being charged with and convicted of wiretapping.

    Maybe Orange Julius is onto something ….other than women not his wife

  10. What is the big deal? This post is no different than hidden city ticket trick or airfare price mistake.
    Thanks Lucky for the “trick” but for me BA points are more useful for CX and JAL for intra-Asia premium cabin 🙂

  11. Oh cmon – delete this post. I was just at Chicago Seminars and you shouldn’t be posting this. You’re quite selfish.

  12. This just saved me $800 on two F tickets. And gives me some hope that my 1M+ Avios might actually get used. (And also explains why I’ve seen such weird swings in fuel surcharges; I never put 2+2 together before I read this.)

  13. Please delete this post. It was out there for anyone to discover while booking IB, no need to feed spoon and kill it. Thank you.

  14. I learned something new! Thank you. I understand this ‘trick’ may not last and I also understand that this is something that’s probably better taught at FTU or Chicago Seminars but once one blogger writes about it, I appreciate Lucky and the others writing about it too so their readers don’t miss out!

  15. The best way to work around the flying rip-off otherwise known as British Airways is to just never fly them.

  16. Cool trick, after reading this I found some dates that worked but before pulling the trigger I looked into what BA first class was like and found it to be meh…. riding my first 747 intrigues me however.

  17. Haven’t had to do it for awhile on be BA but it is common to other OnwWorld members as well. Gift Certificates often come with their own benefits sometimes negating most or greatly reducing surcharges. When paying for awards include say a Gift Certificate for 100.00 as part payment and watch what happens? They were great in the QA Double Status offers till recently, buy 10 Gift Certificates @ $100 during the ticketing sale. Apply one gift certificate to the payment of any flight after the ticketing period but within the must fly by rule and double status is earned because of the ticketing date of the Gift Certificate. Like I said, something’s are common to Oneworld not just a particular airline

  18. I yesterday told it yhbu. It’s a nice thing that I found out when I got the 2x 90000 avios and tried to use them the best way. So I just wanted to give something back to you bloggers. I think we all take a profit of sharing things we find out.

  19. Robert,

    I live in England, and I’m one world sapphire. Worth it despite the fact that they suck. When I move back to USA. Never again.

  20. Feel the same as most posters about BA. AA Business is better than BA. AA Premium Economy, while not nearly as nice as AA Domestic First, is a slight downgrade from BA Business . . . but about $3,000-$4,0000 less. 8 across in BA Business (and an outrageous surcharge) No Way BA!

  21. @Juan … seriously? AA premium economy worse than AA domestic first..? There is something worse than AA domestic first?

  22. On a somewhat related thread, I wanted to book a flight for my daughter from JFK to Dresden (where I live) Price seemed extremely high since I fly to NY from Germany several times a year. Sure enough, when I looked at the same dates from Dresden to JFK and back it was almost half the price. Any way to get around this?

  23. I was able to fly Cathay in Business with Avios points and paid about $50. However instead of about 65,000 Alaska miles had to use about 105,000 Avios but it was worth it.

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