I’ve done a considerable amount of digging into some incredibly disingenuous surcharge and tax practices employed by British Airways on Avios “free flight” redemptions. Well, since I’ve taken the time to bring you here, it’s safe to say that the results are shocking. I allege that the airline knowingly and willfully overcharges people, mostly out of laziness in the way that it calculates surcharges, on almost every round trip ticket and some one way tickets using Avios. Here’s why you should be extra careful …

a city skyline with a ferris wheel and a river

New York to London

I’m willing to argue that almost every traveler hoping to fly round trip from New York to London, will always look to book a round trip. Why book two one ways? Following that assumption, British Airways overcharges people by $238 for that “mistake”.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

A one way ticket from New York to London in Business runs $441 in taxes. The return leg from London to New York will run $472. 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

So, if you booked the two legs separately, you’d be paying the miles and $913 round trip. If only the price was the same for booking the logical way, a simple round trip. 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

If you booked the logical way, booking a simple round trip from New York to London, you’d be hit with $1,151 in taxes and surcharges, OVER charging you by $238 per person! 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

But wait, if you book a round trip starting from London, it’s actually cheaper to book round trip than to go one way. So yep, cheaper to book one ways from New York, cheaper to book round trip from London. Make sense? Nope!

a beach with buildings and water

London to Rio De Janeiro

You may be interested to know that it’s literally illegal in Brazil to add surcharges to flights departing the country. I assure you British Airways knows, but that hasn’t stopped them from similarly dubious practices…

a screenshot of a flight

Ok, $737 round trip. That’s what any normal person booking a round trip would assume is the fair and ordinary price. 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

Looking at these one way taxes above of $480, it’s looking like the round trip taxes come out better than booking two one ways in this case, WRONG. Just wait…

a screenshot of a flight schedule

WOW! Because it’s literally illegal, if you book one way at a time, British Airways correctly does not add surcharges departing the country! Just $36 one way in Business. If only people booking round trip received the same benefit…

a screenshot of a flight ticket

Again, throwing a bit of a curve ball, if you begin from Rio and return to Rio, the round trip price is even lower! Strange indeed.

a city skyline with a body of water

London To San Francisco

a screenshot of a flight

At this point you’re expecting me to tell you that again, booking round trip, you’re getting duped. Surprisingly, you’d be incorrect! Some flights price out much better as round trips than two one ways, including this London to San Francisco round trip flight…

a screenshot of a flight schedule

At $500 one way in surcharges, that round trip price of $734 is looking pretty good…

a screenshot of a flight

You don’t need much of a calculator to figure out that $500 + $479 is more than a round trip price in surcharges of $734. That’s a saving of $245 per person. In fact, that trend pops up on quite a few routes. 

a screenshot of a flight schedule

After examining the New York to London results, it’s not surprising to see that booking a round trip from the US is always worse than booking one ways. You’ll get hit with a whopping $1,227 in surcharges per person, overpaying by $248 versus the two-one way prices of $979!

How To Beat The System

In a day and age when no one enjoys leg work, you probably won’t be thrilled to hear that the way to win is to price out both two one way flights and a round trip. It’s the only way you’ll ever know for certain, which is the right answer. I highly recommend using the British Airways app, to give you a visual representation of space on your desired route. Once you’ve found space, search on the website or over the phone and price out your options. Save yourself some money and buy me dinner with it… 

As Always, Get In Touch: GodSaveThePoints@gmail.com

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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