Avoid British Airways Fuel Surcharges With Cathay Pacific Miles

Avoid British Airways Fuel Surcharges With Cathay Pacific Miles

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British Airways is known for its incredibly high carrier imposed surcharges (often referred to as “fuel surcharges”) when redeeming miles or points for flights. However, many don’t realize that there’s one program that allows you to reduce these significantly.

The basics of British Airways’ high surcharges

If you ask anyone in the miles & points world about British Airways, fuel surcharges on award tickets might be the first thing that comes to mind. For example, currently a one-way ticket in first or business class from Newark to London on British Airways will currently cost you $879.80 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges, in addition to the Avios.

Business class award using British Airways Avios
First class award using British Airways Avios

Unfortunately you’re on the hook for these surcharges even when booking through most partner programs. They might vary a bit by partner, but they’re mostly similar.

For example, Alaska Mileage Plan has the same fees as British Airways, plus a $12.50 partner award ticketing fee.

British Airways award using Alaska Mileage Plan miles

Meanwhile the fees are a bit lower through American AAdvantage, but the difference isn’t huge.

British Airways award using American AAdvantage miles

Avoid fuel surcharges with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles isn’t my favorite frequent flyer program in the world, but there are a few sweet spots to the program. One of those is that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles has significantly lower fees for British Airways awards than other programs.

Now, you might be thinking “but I don’t have any Cathay Pacific miles.” That’s fine, because Cathay Pacific Asia Miles partners with a few major transferable points currencies — you can transfer rewards at a 1:1 ratio from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Citi ThankYou.

How big can the savings be? Those same Newark to London flights that have $879.80 in fees through British Airways Executive Club will cost you just $247. Those are savings of over 70%, which is huge.

British Airways first class award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
British Airways business class award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Let me note that the savings in premium economy and economy aren’t nearly as large, so the primary benefit is for first and business class. For example, for the same premium economy award where British Airways Executive Club charges $329, you’d pay $247 with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. Obviously that’s still better, but not as good.

Premium economy award using British Airways Avios
British Airways premium economy award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

So, how do you determine the number of Cathay Pacific Asia Miles required for a British Airways award? There’s not an award chart for this, but rather you have to go to Cathay Pacific’s page for redeeming flight awards. If you enter just the origin, destination, and airline, you’ll see a dropdown that shows the cost of a redemption in each cabin.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles’ British Airways award pricing

Note that you need to be a Cathay Pacific Asia Miles member to access this page, though you don’t need to have any sort of a points balance.

To give a general sense of pricing, you can expect that a US East Coast to London flight will cost you 61,000 miles in business class or 87,000 miles in first class, while a US West Coast to London flight will cost you 75,000 miles in business class or 120,000 miles in first class.

Is booking British Airways awards through Cathay Pacific worth it?

I think it goes without saying that most people would rather spend $250 than $880 as a co-pay when redeeming for an award ticket. So the value of redeeming Cathay Pacific miles on British Airways is obvious for first and business class, while it’s less valuable in premium economy and economy.

However, there are also some reasons this might not make so much sense:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles charges $120 or 17,000 miles to redeposit an award, while Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage allow free redeposits; if you’re not sure you’ll travel, that’s something to keep in mind
  • In many cases, Cathay Pacific’s mileage requirements are significantly higher than you’d pay through other programs, so you should factor the value of miles into your math as well
  • If you’re starting with transferable points currencies, we often see 25-40% transfer bonuses to British Airways Executive Club, while we don’t see nearly as many transfer bonuses to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, so in some cases the different in points can be huge when factoring that in

So to me this is one of those useful things to be aware of, but I don’t actually think booking through Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is necessarily a consistent slam dunk.

Booking British Airways awards through Cathay Pacific can make sense

Bottom line

You can avoid British Airways’ high fuel surcharges by booking awards through Cathay Pacific Asia Miles. While the program has fees for British Airways awards, they’re a small fraction of what you’d pay with most other programs, at least in first and business class.

While this is a good opportunity to be aware of, it’s not always going to be the best option for booking, due to the cost, cancelation terms, etc.

What’s your take on redeeming Cathay Pacific miles on British Airways?

Conversations (27)
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  1. frrp Member

    Its not a co-pay.

    BA charge fees to get cash.

  2. Gregsdc New Member

    Do the math - this is a no-brainer if free cancellation isn't a huge deal for your booking. I can use 57,500 AAdvantage miles + $730 or 61,000 Asia Miles + 247 for the same J flight from US east coast to London; or, put differently, I'm getting a value of 13.8 cents/mile from the incremental 3,500 redeemed miles.

    Thanks for the tip!

  3. Cwyfan Guest

    It would be interesting to find the break even point for buying some miles from the tax savings in order to make up any lack of sufficient air miles for a trip.

  4. platy Guest

    Also...on the Europe to US journey, originating in non-LHR location may help to lower the airport fees / taxes associated with LHR.

    For example, co-payments compared (using QF points on first class):

    USD680 for LHR-IAD
    USD400 for CDG-LHR-IAD

  5. Alex V Guest

    What about the fees eastbound out of London?
    Are they still much lower?

  6. Max Guest

    it can be a better deal but at a cost if you end up modifying or canceling your ticket it will cost you and i'ts also very complicated you need to contact them by email or phone and they're hyper irresponsive.

  7. --- Guest

    Unless this changed recently, I don't think Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

  8. Andrew Guest

    Asia miles is an underrated program. It’s the easiest program to get to Australia with in business class. Only 90k with $200 in taxes and fees on JAL through Tokyo. Considering they often have transfer bonuses (both on their side and from Amex), it’s one of my go to bookings, especially since there is generally decent award availability which is almost impossible with other programs to Australia.

  9. beachfan Guest

    Nice tip!

    What's the mileage comparison LAX-LHR in J?

  10. Happy Guest

    Is there a way to check the taxes and fees without miles in your account?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Happy -- Yep, you don't need a mileage balance, you just need an account.

    2. Happy Guest

      Thanks for the response Ben. The issue is that when I select the flight, it shows me the amount of miles excluding taxes and fees. When I click "Next", it says "You do not have enough miles to complete the booking" and gives options to get miles. I can't proceed any further. As such, I never get to see the taxes and fees needed (which is the whole benefit of going this route).. I'll need...

      Thanks for the response Ben. The issue is that when I select the flight, it shows me the amount of miles excluding taxes and fees. When I click "Next", it says "You do not have enough miles to complete the booking" and gives options to get miles. I can't proceed any further. As such, I never get to see the taxes and fees needed (which is the whole benefit of going this route).. I'll need to see them before feeling comfortable transferring points to the program. Maybe calling is an option though?

    3. Salathiel Guest

      I find the taxes and fees listed at the bottom of the page next to the miles total before clicking on the "next" button.

  11. Gibraltarian Guest

    I have had my Asia Miles account hacked 3 times. They never give any sort of compensation for this and it seems a regular Occurrence. Nearly all accounts were hacked approximately 4 years ago. I no longer use them for the reason that they seem so relaxed and unapologetic about the privacy and data breaches. Messaging them on WhatsApp is robotic and then when an agent comes many hours later they do not respond to...

    I have had my Asia Miles account hacked 3 times. They never give any sort of compensation for this and it seems a regular Occurrence. Nearly all accounts were hacked approximately 4 years ago. I no longer use them for the reason that they seem so relaxed and unapologetic about the privacy and data breaches. Messaging them on WhatsApp is robotic and then when an agent comes many hours later they do not respond to queries but immediately end the opened conversation. I used to love Cathay Pacific but please be very careful.

  12. MIchelle Guest

    waldorf astoria amsterdam is closed permanently

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ MIchelle -- Do you have a source? That's news to me...

    2. michelle Guest

      When I searched via microsoft bing, it popped up on the right as permanently closed, and when I click into the official waldorf astoria website to book a night in march or april/ beyond it says no rooms are available.

      However, when I searched via google.com it shows waldorf as open. Very strange...

    3. michelle Guest

      Checked further - I think it's just closed in March and first half of April

  13. Right Guest

    Sweet spot of Asia miles exposed! And while it may not be easy to earn Asia miles in the US, it is very easy to accumulate them with a fee-free credit card product in Hong Kong, effectively in a rate of 1 Asia miles for every 0.22 USD spending.

    1. philco Guest

      It is actually quite easy to earn AM in US as they are a transfer partner from a number of credit card reward currencies. I have burned upper six figurers of AM over the last five or so years.

  14. Alex Guest

    Aw man, seeing this just a week after I booked directly with BA. At least I got the 20% Capitol One transfer bonus, but I would rather have the extra cash. Now I know for next time...

  15. SLG Guest

    Excellent information! I have 360K in my Asia Miles account from a cancelled trip on CX from NY to Bali. I had planned to rebook this trip soon. However, since earlier this morning I read about the cohabitation laws being passed in Indonesia, I have zero interest in going. I'll happily use those miles to fly BA and have a great time breaking all of Indonesia's ridiculous laws in London.

    1. philco Guest

      Hopefully Asia Miles has fixed their new "elevated" website. At least a month back it was impossible to book much via the website without using some hacked code off of FT or calling in (and the wait times are crazy). I have used AM a lot to book BA in the past but it has recently been a real pain.

    2. dantheman Member

      That code is definitely a lifesaver, the CX website is still super buggy and doesn't show a lot of BA space that should be bookable. FYI their Whatsapp customer service is relatively quick and knowledgeable based on the few times i've used it lately

    3. DCAWABN Guest

      Even using the FT code I was unable to get the site to work beyond two or three simple one ways searches. Then I’d get an error message. All browsers. All times of the day. Finally gave up.

    4. omar Guest

      The new website seems even worse than the old if that is even possible.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

philco Guest

Hopefully Asia Miles has fixed their new "elevated" website. At least a month back it was impossible to book much via the website without using some hacked code off of FT or calling in (and the wait times are crazy). I have used AM a lot to book BA in the past but it has recently been a real pain.

1
DCAWABN Guest

Even using the FT code I was unable to get the site to work beyond two or three simple one ways searches. Then I’d get an error message. All browsers. All times of the day. Finally gave up.

0
frrp Member

Its not a co-pay. BA charge fees to get cash.

0
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