an airplane flying over a building

We’re running out of options…

On September 22nd, 2018 Hong Kong made quite an impact on “the points and miles game”. For many years, Hong Kong remained one of the few major international cities to ban fuel surcharges, which allow airlines to add substantial cash cost to “free flights” using points. In essence, these surcharges allow airlines to say “your points are no longer enough, we’d like actual cash too”. In the September announcement, governing bodies paved the way for airlines to reintroduce fuel surcharges, and a recent report suggests more than 50% have already added them…

an airplane flying over a buildingThe Story

Fuel surcharges suck. These lazy surcharges are added to all paid airline tickets, but only levied by some airlines when you use points and miles. Surcharges vary from $20 to $750 one way. Yes, even when you use miles, some airlines actually charge $750 to fly. That’s just nuts. Hong Kong and Rio De Janeiro have historically been two great cities for using points, since these unfriendly surcharges, which by all weights and measures don’t actually have anything to do with fuel were banned. According to the South China Morning Post, 50% of airlines flying out of Hong Kong have reinstated these fuel charges, which can effect all airline tickets

The Change

In short, if you’re a flyer of Lufthansa, British Airways or another loyalty program who’s been accustomed to paying over $300+ one way for a long haul ticket when cashing in points, these cities represented options where you could fly for your points and about $25 instead. Yep – leave Frankfurt in First Class, pay €300, but originate from Hong Kong, and you pay a mere fraction of the cost. Since September, it’s reported that roughly 50% of airlines flying out of Hong Kong have reintroduced these fuel surcharges including Garuda Indonesia, Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific and Emirates. British Airways, nor Qantas have reintroduced fuel surcharges, yet.

The Advice

What does all this mean? If your preferred loyalty program has not yet reintroduced silly fuel surcharges, try to book sooner than later. Many experts would agree opting not to charge these additional fees is a competitive advantage, especially in loyalty, but it’s hard to imagine an airline actually staying that way. Using cash or points to reach Hong Kong and start a new reservation from Hong Kong is one of the shrewdest ways to typically use points, so if you can book a great flight without the added cash expense, get to it – like now…

fuel surcharges

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. After waiting almost until the last day to transfer MR to avios at 1:1.40 I finally did it and then I read this.

  2. Some extremely customer unfriendly airlines charge over $750 to fly… below from a BA customer group:
    “I booked business class from Seattle to London using my BA Avios. Last year taxes etc were $480.71 Cdn per ticket. This year it is $1900.87! This is all due to a BA add-on called Insurance and Security Surcharge – trust me I did not ask for Insurance. So does anyone know what this gouge is? Do I have any recourse or is this just a “Suck it up buttercup” situation? Thanks”
    MY SOLUTION: *Fly ANYONE But BA* because their service is BeyondAbysmal but they persist in charging as though they delivered a premier experience making them BestAvoided. In this case one can get a premium low cost booking all in for less than the Bull***Artists surcharges

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