A lot of times when we are shopping for award seats, we tend to avoid Airlines that charge a fuel surcharge on award tickets, even if it is a small amount. Though, Airlines like British Airways and Air France are known to charge huge amount (in the range of several hundreds to over a thousand for a round-trip ticket, depending on the distance of flight segments on the booked ticket) of Fuel Surcharge, and misleadingly, pass it on to the passengers as a tax. Is it fair to charge this fuel surcharge “tax” on award tickets?
Award tickets are tickets purchased using miles. What are miles? Miles are Airlines’ own currency that they award to their loyal customers as perks for giving the Airlines repeat business. And these miles can be used to earn free flights. When you purchase a ticket on the Airline and fly that ticket, you earn miles. Point to be noted here is that most Airlines already charge you a fuel surcharge “tax” on paid revenue tickets on which you earn miles. Thus, the cost of fuel or fuel surcharge is already build into the miles that you earn using those tickets. Then why are airlines double charging for the fuel surcharge? Is it fair to those frequent flyers or loyal repeat customers to be overcharging for their loyalty? No, absolutely no!
For the sake of this discussion, lets ignore the other modes on earning miles in today’s world and stick to the classical definition of miles. After all, Airlines are making money off their loyal, repeat business customers.
Updated on 10/20/2011:
Most Airlines based outside US charge a hefty fuel surcharge. in general, it is best to stick to US based Airlines’ frequent flyer programs. In near future, I will compile and publish a comprehensive list of Airlines that charge fuel surcharge on award tickets.