No fuel surcharges for flights originating in Brazil!

I love learning new things, especially about award bookings. Today’s lesson? There are no fuel surcharges for flights originating in Brazil due to government regulations. This is awesome, especially for those with British Airways Avios points or British Midland miles to burn before their partnership in Star Alliance ends. It’s even useful for those with American AAdvantage miles, given that they impose fuel surcharges for award redemptions on British Airways.

Anyway, the really cool news is that any award ticket originating in Brazil isn’t subject to fuel surcharges, even if it’s for an airline that usually imposes them.

For example, I priced a first class award ticket between Sao Paulo and London on British Airways:

The one-way cost is 90,000 Avios points plus only $36 in taxes (business class would be 60,000 Avios points while coach would be 30,000 Avios points):

And even a roundtrip award ticket from Sao Paulo to London wouldn’t be subject to the fuel surcharges. It’s worth noting, however, that a roundtrip award ticket from London to Sao Paulo would be subject to the fuel surcharges, since it’s based on the country of origination.

British Airways and Iberia both serve Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

The results when pricing out an Iberia ticket are similar:

And the taxes for that would also only be $36:

I’m trying to burn some British Midland miles right now, and both Lufthansa and Swiss serve Brazil. Usually they’d have $300+ fuel surcharges per passenger for a longhaul premium cabin flight, though in looking at the business class fare on Lufthansa between Sao Paulo and Frankfurt, here’s the breakdown:

In other words, you’d only pay about $71.50 at most in taxes for booking this flight, instead of $400+ if it were originating elsewhere.

And business class award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss is actually pretty decent departing South America:

Keep in mind that British Midland only charges 37,500 miles (or 18,750 miles plus £127.50) for a one-way business class ticket from South America to Europe, which is a real bargain.

Now, how practical is all of this actually? Probably not very, at least for those based in North America with limited vacation time. It’s useful if you’re planning a circle trip and want to visit both South America and Europe on the same trip, since you can save a good chunk of cash thanks to the lack of fuel surcharges. At the same time, keep in mind that if you have a US passport you need a visa to visit Brazil. Fortunately I have a German passport, so that’s a non-issue for me.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that for those of you with a companion certificate from the British Airways Visa, it’s only valid for flights originating in the US, so it wouldn’t be useful in this instance.

So this is interesting, though I’m just trying to figure out a good way to capitalize on this, and I’m not coming up with anything especially good. I’d like to visit Rio de Janeiro, but I’m thinking there are more efficient ways to book a ticket down there that don’t involve a 5,000 mile detour. But then again, what’s the fun in that?

(Tip of the hat to Million Mile Secrets)


  1. why the hell do you need a visa to visit brazil? that’s insane. does it have something to do with corn ethanol?

  2. @ alex — Visas are merely a form of generating revenue. That’s why you need one to visit Vietnam as well. 😉

  3. Lucky is doing a fantastic job of proving even the experts can’t possibly know every little trick, loophole or workaround in this obsession most of us have. But that’s why there are forums and blogs. That Brazil “feature” has been discussed ad infinitum in the BA forum.

    Never fear though, I learned something on the Aer Lingus post – I hadn’t realized UA did such a lovely job of showing inventory. Trouble is I use BA companion certs and sadly BA does not fly LON-DUB. Ireland is my favorite repeat destination though so I always find a way. Like a £16 train/ferry ride from London to Dublin.

  4. I’ve known about this exception for a while and am considering taking advantage of it when American launches its new 77W service on DFW-GRU. Do you know if this applies for all segments of AAdvantage explorer awards (formerly oneworld awards)? For example start the award in GRU, fly around South America a bit then take BA to LHR, jump around Europe then BA to SEA. (I’m familiar with all the explorer award rules).

  5. @ alex, why the hell do you need a visa to visit USA? that’s insane. does it have something to do with sugarcane ethanol?

  6. @ BrewerSEA — Now that’s a really good question! My initial instinct was that only the immediate journey out of Brazil wouldn’t have fuel surcharges, though I just priced Sao Paulo to London and then London to New York a week later, and there were no fuel surcharges for the entire journey. Hmmm, I wonder what the limit of that is.

  7. Also useful for the Singapore Airlines flight GRU-BCN-SIN, which has excellent first class award availability through KF.

  8. Can anyone tell me or guide me to a list of all the countries that require visit(tourist visas for US citizens?

  9. @Rohan

    I didn’t think I could count the number of times I’ve referenced that page but Google says I’ve searched for it 10 times!

  10. This JAL page ( states that fuel surcharges are “Not applicable for itineraries originating in Brazil.”  

    Additionally, this KLM page ( says “For tickets originating in Brazil, there is no fuel surcharge applicable.”

    I can’t find the relevant Brazilian law, but that may be because I don’t speak Portuguese so am unable to properly search for it.  The above quotes seem to imply no fuel surcharges for the entire ticket. 

  11. @ lucky
    Can you do GIG-LHR then NYC-LHR-NYC without YQ on the same reservation? Can you cancel GIG-LHR later?

  12. @ al613 — If you later cancel GIG-LHR the taxes/fees would be recalculated, so that wouldn’t work. Could you get GIG-LHR-JFK-LHR all on one ticket to avoid the fuel surcharges, though? I don’t know, that’s a good question.

  13. Cheap AA or LAN award down to S.America, then LAN within and then BA to Europe and back to US? Would be a neat trip…

  14. Note that the GRU-MAD on Avios is also only around $27 USD, the $71 showing on ITA is Brazillian currency. If you set the sale city to the US then you see the same dollar amount as the GRU-LON on the BA screenshot 🙂

    so bottom line, all international departures from Brazil only attracts this ~27 USD fee! Champagne, champagne for everyone! lol

  15. Oh and just checked on the GRU-LON, LON-NYC-LON option, and it WORKS! no YQ whatsoever!

    Now it is just a matter of getting Avios to issue a ticket like that! Under the old rules it would not be possible as it won’t be a legal routing, but now they seem to price by segment anyways so it might be possible to convince them to issue all 3 sectos on one ticket by paying the reuqired mileage for all of them.

    Anyone fancy annoying the Pheonix folks more by asking to check Aer Lingus awards as well as all sorts of Brazil originating + many connecting/openjaw/circle/roundtrip magic combinations? lol

  16. @gpapadop, Both of us applied on the same for MC and Visa. She did not get approved for either of them, but they approved her after calling in and giving the same run-of-the-mill explanation as to why she needs both cards. On the other hand, i was approved for Visa instantly, but had to call in for MC version.

  17. @alex and @lucky
    Just a reminder that U.S. DOS will change US visa fees from $140 to $160 on Tourist, Business, Transit, Crew Member, Student, Exchange Visitor, and Journalist visas, staring on April 13, 2012. This is really disappointed. Does DOS need money urgently?

  18. Visa to Brazil is required as reciprocity to those countries which require a Visa from Brazilians. Also, it has currently prevented jobless Americans to come to Brazil looking for jobs in a superior and better paid market.

  19. Note, when booking award travel using usairways miles, taxes etc amount to roughly US$300 for one F ticket from GRU to Australia via Germany and Thailand (return).

  20. @ iqis — And those are all legitimate taxes (and US Airways’ $50 processing fee), and no fuel surcharges. If you’re stopping in Germany, that alone is a substantial tax, so it sounds about right.

  21. Well you’ve royally cocked this one up as BA now impose a YQ on awards exBrazil.

    Consequently, you’ve just cost anyone who wants to redeem exBrazil the small matter of $300.

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