How to Book 4 Premium Cabin Seats — And How to Avoid Fuel Surcharges

ck asks

Hi can you list which airlines fly London/new York and the best way to access them using points, and minimising the fuel surcharges? Eg fly united metal but use krisflyer points, or never use BA points for a BA flight.

Also, which airlines release 4 seats in premium cabins.

Thanks for the question, I’ve covered these things over time so let me pull some of it together.

Last fall I did a series on the airlines routes that make 4 premium cabin award seats available:

Fuel surcharges are the bane of any frequent flyer’s existence. I’ve written on how to redeem BA points without fuel surcharges or very low fees.

Roughly speaking,

  • British Airways adds fuel surcharges to award tickets when airlines include those on paid tickets.
  • Oddly, US Airways now adds fuel surcharges to paid tickets (new phenomenon) but BA hasn’t been adding them to awards. That could be related to the fact that US Airways hadn’t been adding fuel surcharges to BA awards until recently although the two could be unrelated.
  • Air Berlin doesn’t add fuel surcharges to paid tickets, so BA awards on Air Berlin don’t have those junk fees.
  • Fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus are very low.
  • BA adds fuel surcharges to awards on Iberia. But Iberia doesn’t add significant fuel surcharges to their own flights. So if you have an active Iberia account, transfer your BA Avios to Iberia Avios and then redeem.

Meanwhile, the best way to redeem for Virgin Atlantic used to be Hawaiian miles but they’ve substantially upped the mileage cost.

As I mention, you used to be able to redeem for BA using US miles and not pay fuel surcharges, but now your mileage may vary on that.

You can redeem for Delta travel New York to London with Delta miles and no fuel surcharges (but if you originate on the other side of the Pond you’ll pay a fee). United flights with United/Avianca/Aeroplan/etc and no fuel surcharges. American with American miles…

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, thank you for a plethora of excellent posts over last few days, I really enjoyed reading your blog. F-Class, J-Class seat selections, great commentary, good ideas on United partners to Europe — this is why I love your blog. Thank you again for your posts.



  2. Gary, thanks for all the great information and I did get the AA 100K card thanks to you. I wanted to spend some those miles flying coast to coast and was looking at Apr’15. there is not a single award seat in any class on AA either LAX-JFK or SFO-JFK that month? But there is availability East-> West i.e JFK-LAX/SFO. Any clue on how they release seats these days? This wasn’t the case when I was looking at Feb’15 a few months ago. thanks

  3. can you do a HOW TO tutorial sometime about how to a) transfer miles to Iberia Avios, and b) how to redeem Iberia Avios?

    Iberia website is so impossible to navigate!

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