British Airways adds fuel surcharges on flights out of Brazil… hmmm…

Last week I posted about the fact that flights originating in Brazil don’t have fuel surcharges due to government regulations. This is especially interesting on award tickets for travel on airlines like British Airways and Singapore Airlines, which usually impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions.

Well, as a reader kindly pointed out to me on that post (“you’ve royally cocked this one up”), British Airways’ website now seems to impose fuel surcharges for award flights originating in Brazil. For example, take this September 16 flight from Sao Paulo to London:

When you price it out, the taxes and fees show as being $337:

As opposed to the previous total of $36:

Yet oddly when you price out a revenue ticket there are still no fuel surcharges:

And when you price the same award through American there are no fuel surcharges either (even though they usually impose them on British Airways redemptions):

Like I said, this wasn’t some loophole, but due to government regulations. So I’m curious to see how British Airways explains this one. Or maybe it’s a conveniently timed IT glitch? Can anyone come up with a plausible explanation?

Filed Under: Awards, British Airways
  1. Wow, this change must have happened since 2PM CDT. I priced one ticket GRU-LON today and I did not see the excessive surcharges.

  2. @ David — Believe it or not, those aren’t fuel surcharges. About $250 of that is the UK Air Passenger Duty which is for any flights originating in the UK (which your return flight is). If you instead connected elsewhere, like Italy, that wouldn’t apply.

  3. I ran into a similar issue on a XL (Lan Ecuador flight). No fuel surcharge when you book, say a r/t from MIA-GYE-MIA, but suddenly a huge surcharge if you just buy GYE-MIA.

    Odd–I think this is a deliberate glitch that the BA fools in NY will be unable to do anything about.

  4. Your screenshot for the new price (with fees) mentions a donation to Flying Start, which appears to be a charity. I wonder if it’s a forced donation in the amount exactly equal to the fuel surcharges you would have to pay if it weren’t for the Brazilian law?

  5. this post reminds me of the time Brian posted a video on how he raided the “IC minibar in Vegas” as a RA. A few days later, the benefit was taken away at that hotel

    no harm to the bloggers, but just sayin

  6. And where does it say these are fuel surcharges? Could be any kind of surcharge or tax? They probably just found another way, without reasing fuel surcharges, to charge the fees.

  7. The explanation I heard was that fuel surcharges were outlawed for revenue tickets, but not necessarily for award tickets. Thing is, even on flyertalk, million miles secrets or here, no one has pointed to the original piece of legislature to definitely say what it is. Until that happens there is no point in speculating what it is.

  8. “even if 1 time in a thousand a loophole ends up getting plugged”

    You really think that’s the airlines’ success rate in plugging leaks in this internet age? You must be newer than you claim! 😉

    Bad job by Lucky.

  9. Nice job burying this post under a nice long trip report to ensure people miss the fact that you ruined a nice little award redemption.

  10. That’s why I’ll never post about the priority club Iberia vs. BA avios earning rate..


  11. Lucky, please do confront BA about this. I too would be interested in what they have to say about KatefromCA’s observation.

  12. It’s nothing to do with Flying Start. When you click on information next to the charges it clearly shows as Fuel Surcharge – which like a previous poster stated, BA must have figured out they can charge on award bookings (but not paid for bookings.

  13. Lucky,
    Check out a post from 4/26 on this subject at Million Mile Secrets. You’ll see a Brazilian reader posted a pdf legal press release from Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Authority, stating clearly (in portuguese) that the resolution was created to prevent wild fluctuation in airfare prices due to fuel, via fuel surcharges. The text states that government-imposed tax values can be assessed on a ticket, whereas fuel surcharges are an optional charge the airline imposes. Here is the pdf:

    I’d encourage Lucky and/or his blogger pears to escalate this issue by questioning directly British Airways or Avios officials, either via interview or in a public setting, like an industry awards show.

  14. Interesting enough, I simulated with AAdvantage and Avios points, and the results were (economy):

    AAdvantage: 50mil pts + $36
    Avios (BA): 30mil pts + $245

    AAdvantage: 50mil pts + $379.10
    Avios (BA): 30mil pts + $379.08

    AAdvantage: 100mil pontos + $222.30
    Avios (BA): 60mil pontos + $640.31


  15. Hello. sorry to join so late into the conversation…

    I am just talking to a brazillian lawyer about this at the moment. he tells me that by brazillian law, airmiles or avios are treated like cash and so fuel surcharges need to be included in the avios amount. once he has provided me with the full text and case law, I will share.

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