Brazil Eliminates Their Ban On Airline Fuel Surcharges

Filed Under: Travel

Update: As it turns out, the law hasn’t changed, and TAP has stopped imposing fuel surcharges. That’s great news.

Fuel surcharges, or “carrier imposed surcharges,” as they’re now commonly referred to, are one of the peskiest fees in the airline industry. Airlines introduces these surcharges when fuel prices were high, but didn’t get rid of them when fuel prices plummeted. If booking revenue tickets, there’s not really a huge impact on consumers, since most of the fare will simply be the fuel surcharge. These charges don’t cause airfare to go up (given how competitive the industry is), but change how the fare is distributed.

For example, take the below British Airways flight between New York and London, where the base fare is $152, and the fuel surcharges are $250:


The greatest impact of these surcharges is on award tickets, since many airlines pass on the carrier imposed surcharges when redeeming miles. So if you redeemed miles on the above British Airways flight you’d still have to pay all those fees, including the $250 fuel surcharge. The only thing you wouldn’t have to pay is the $152 base fare.

One country that has banned fuel surcharges in the past was Brazil. In 2010 Brazil made it illegal for airlines to impose surcharges on tickets, other than government taxes and airport charges. Here’s the rule at the time, using Google Translate:

Only amounts related to the payment of government taxes, taxes, airport charges or any other value that presents transfer characteristics to government entities may be charged as a fee when they are due by the acquirer of the ticket and collected through the carrier.

Well, unfortunately the country has changed their mind on this. Per Meanie.Me, Brazil has rolled back their restriction on airlines imposing fuel surcharges on tickets. As of March 14, 2017, airlines can once again impose fuel surcharges for travel originating in Brazil.

TAP Portugal has already taken advantage of these relaxed restrictions, and is again imposing surcharges for travel originating in Brazil. For example, the below economy itinerary from Sao Paulo to Frankfurt has a $100 surcharge:


I suspect we’ll see other airlines add similar fees soon. I’m shocked that British Airways and Lufthansa didn’t add these fees the first minute they were allowed to. 😉

  1. This is a BIG step backwards for Brazil. They were an example of what other governments should have adopted.

  2. this is all part of major changes in brazilian air industry. together with the fuel surcharges, the government has allowed air carriers to not include a free checked bag for every flyer — in brazil, we had a law that made it mandatory for all companies to check at least one bag, and two bags for international flights.

    all in all, this change sucks for customers — but what recent change hasn’t?

  3. Well, Brazil is getting at the top of most corrupted countries in te world so I am pretty sure someone is getting a piece of that charge. BTW, they eliminated the ban where airlines were not allowed to charge for checked luggage earlier this week but that didn’t last a day since a judge vetted it. Someone very “smart” said that by allowing the airlines to charge for checked luggage would enhance competition and lower the price of tickets. ROFLOL!!!!! How can someone be so stupid?

  4. Just curious, how is fuel charge calculated? Any good resource online to find out more about the cost breakdown by airline company? Thanks!

  5. This is a misinterpretation of the new regulation. The new Resolution 400/17 (in effect as of today) has the same article that prevents air carriers to add fuel surcharges on tickets. For some years, TAP Portugal deliberately added YQ to tickets, even when the ban was already in effect. They are just trying again. I see a lot of lawsuits coming, just as before.

  6. Actually the YQ surcharge is still forbidden.
    TAP started charging YQ from 2010 to 2012 until may customers were complaining about it and fighting back in court. After all this trouble they decided to stop charging this bullshit YQ thing.

    @Santastico :
    Airlines are the ones getting lucky this time….

  7. Since the “constitutional coup d’etat” against Dilma and the inauguration of Latin Trump (Temer) you get more and more of this crap. Guess where the USA is going? Yes, towards becoming a nice BANANA REPUBLIC.

  8. Well if one thing is not a surprise it’s that TAP Portugal was the first one to jump on this. TAP is so much ahead to British Airways when it comes to providing Europes worst aviation product. Their fleet is the oldest of all Europe flag carriers by average age, has never seen refreshments in almost all planes and comes with below average service when compared to LH or others. Yet TAP charges like it’s exclusively flying with all Etihad residence style aircraft (ok it’s not that bad, but pretty close).

    For me I will go out of my way to fly easyjet or Ryanair to Portugal if the schedule works since the experience is the same but at least you pay a price that’s justified.

  9. @caco your boy Obama didn’t do anything about fuel surcharges for 8 years, so how do you make the leap to turn this into a Trump thing? Run out of things to protest?

  10. This is good. Finally they can try to make money and relax foreign ownership rules. Voe gol!

  11. Unfortunately the Hong Kong regulator is also thinking about allowing ‘fuel surcharges’ again to “encourage competition”. What the regulator in HK should be doing instead is forcing airlines to advertise only the final price (currently taxes and surcharges are excluded which is ridiculous). In Singapore this change was made a few years ago so Hong Kong should follow.

  12. The first printscreen cannot be used as an example, since the departure point is London. The YQ has always been charged by BA when the flights originate out of Brazil.

  13. Hi Lucky,

    Im from Brazil and this new regulation isnt clear at all. ANAC(brazilian FAA) passed a bill with a serie of new regulations for flights departing from Brazil(luggage, carry on sizes, taxes, etc, etc), but it dont make any mention to fuel surcharges. The problem is that isnt clear if ANAC forgot to mention this item or if its their new policy,

    I expect that will have a judicial battle over this issue. I would wait a week or two to book a flight departing from Brazil, probably the justice will block this charges until a final decision.

  14. @BenBen

    The entire short haul fleet (A319,A320 and A321) has been retrofitted already and the long haul fleet is going through the same process until the end of 2017. The first retrofitted A330 is flying already. Also, the new A330neo should be delievered starting earlier next year. The TAP Express fleet has received several new planes, with more to come soon.

    So I think your comment is not correct or at least is out of date.

  15. Suggest you rephrase your title on this post to TAP charges YQ departing Brazil.

    It is nowhere clear where, in the Law, carriers are allowed to charge YQ, a carrier imposed charge and not a Government charge.

    TAP has charged YQ in the past and they were reminded of Law; Eventually it will happen again, soon enough.

  16. I just purchased a ticket Los Angeles to Heathrow. The cost of the (economy) ticket was lower than what it would have been to cash in points because of the extreme fees and taxes. How crazy is that? Off topic, I recently cashed in 160,000 points with Marriott in London, but still need to pay 100 GBP per night in addition to the points. I think I’m done with the “points” game. It’s just not fun any more.

  17. @Mauricio Matos
    I would be very surprised about that, I had a trip from FRA-LIS and a few days later LIS-MUC. One A319 and the other one A320, both as old and rundown as always. That was end of December 2016 and mid January 2017…

    So did I get the very last two planes that got updated literally the second I deplaned? 😉

    Either way it wouldn’t change the fact that TAP has subpar service and a general rather unpleasant value for money on European routes to Portugal. You should read some skytrax reviews and you will notice there are barely any positive ones. Oh and did you notice they do not even operate their own lounge in LIS? Flag carrier, no lounge in their hub… shows exactly the mindset with which TAP operates

  18. Um, Brazil? Kind of shooting yourself in the foot here. I’ve visited many times to celebrate your loophole. Bring it back! We can have beautiful children together.

  19. @BenBen Look….although I’m Portuguese, I have no interest whatsoever defending the airline, I also had some problems with them in the past, like staying in Brazil for 4 days without my luggage. I was just telling you that you were wrong. Maybe you got that last airplane, yes. The end of the retrofit was news here, so I doubt that they would make it TV news if it wasn’t true. The truth is, regarding the quality of the hard product, it’s years ahead of what used to be a couple of years ago. Like I said, TAP Express planes are new (ATR’s and Embraer’s), new A330neo’s are coming (TAP is the launch airline for that model) and they renovated all the other planes (or are in the process of doing so). If you had bad experiences in the past, even if it was in the recent past, you just need go to the Facebook pages of ALL airlines to see people complain. That’s what people do when things go wrong.

    I have flown on 52 airlines so far and honestly, I don’t see TAP behind most of them, specially when compared to other european or U.S. airlines. I fly economy, so I can’t really compare the business side of the things.

    Now regarding the lounge. Yes, I know all about the lounge. I use it all the time. They closed their own lounge a couple of years ago when the airport started the expansion project. I don’t know if they plan to open it again in the future, I heard that they do but if they don’t, then I agree with you…it’s stupid….although, I feel much better at the ANA lounge in Lisbon that I do at a United Club in EWR or IAH, when sometimes there’s not even a place to seat.

  20. It was a “mistake” from TAP. There is another regulation that clearly prohibits charging any kind of “private tax/fee”. You can check now and TAP is not anymore charging the fuel surcharge.

  21. Just to make it clear, when I talk about ANA lounge above, it has nothing to do with the japanese airline. ANA is the company running Lisbon Airport.

  22. @Mauricio Matos
    Well I will have the chance of checking on the new planes shortly, so can I hold you personally responsible if I get an old A319/A320 again? 😛

    I personally feel the product in Lufthansa for example is a lot better, both hard and soft product in economy and business. TAP economy and easyjet… sorry no difference for me besides the fees for luggage and seat selection.

    As for the lounge, when I was there I never managed to find seating, they have only cold sandwiches that are empty most of the time, the WIFI isn’t working, there are cables ripped out of the floor and laying around, holes in the walls in the toilets… I actually posted a review on my blog about it (but I mentioned the main points here, so you can skip it) because it was literally the worst lounge so far in Europe for me.

  23. This information is clearly wrong. The law says it is still forbidden to charge Fuel surcharge, and TAP just reversed their decision to do so as several Bloggers in Brazil, specially one that is an attorney caught to that.

    Aren’t you going to correct your the wrongfull information in your blog?

  24. Alright….I hope you come back with a better idea the next time 😀

    I fly Lufthansa very often as well and I don’t see that difference but hey, I respect your opinion, no problem there.

    And I guess you were very unlucky with the lounge when you were there. Wifi always worked fine with me. Regarding toilets, I can’t really speak because I never used them. You’re right about the food….not a lot to choose from….but I have seen a few other lounges where the choices are not much better. I’m Star Gold, so I can only speak about the Star Alliance lounges. Sure, there are some that are much better….but to tell you the truth, it’s more important to me to find a place that’s not overcrowded than to have a lot of food to choose from. Maybe you were there at a peak time because I never found it full. Actually, the last time I was there there were 4 other people there….but yeah, it was really late, just some 30 minutes before closing time. But again, I agree with you that they must bring back their own lounge.

    Lisbon will have a new airport in 2019 that will be used by the low cost airlines. Actually it’s not a new airport, it’s a air force base that will be converted into a civil airport. Hopefully that will make the main one work better as a whole, which will also help TAP and the quality of its service.

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