Lucky posits that the change is a result of changes to the way US Airways files fares.
US Airways has long embedded fuel surcharges on tickets, meaning that the ticket didn’t show any fuel surcharges (instead they were “built in” to the fare).
This meant that no fuel surcharges were collected on tickets booked using British Airways Avios.
However US Airways has been adding fuel surcharges to their fares for the past few months.
A more likely reason for the change happening now, rather than months ago, is that US Airways is finally collecting fuel surcharges when issuing award tickets for travel on British Airways.
In other words, that British Airways wasn’t collecting fuel surcharges on US Airways flights when US Airways wasn’t collecting them on BA flights. That way the airlines didn’t have to make financial transfers to each other while the partnership glitches were being ironed out. Basically they were being good partners during the transition, and members of both programs benefited.
To be sure, if US Airways hadn’t changed their fare structure then British Airways wouldn’t add fuel surcharges to travel on US Airways.
But the change in US Airways fares is driven by their having joined the joint business venture across the Atlantic with American, British Airways, Iberia, and Finnair back in April.
It’s still possible to use British Airways points for transatlantic travel with little or no fuel surcharges of course:
- Air Berlin doesn’t file fares for paid travel with fuel surcharges, so there are no fuel surcharges redeeming British Airways points for Air Berlin travel.
- Aer Lingus fuel surcharges are negligible. And the flights from Boston to Dublin and Shannon are quite short, so the mileage cost is low, too — just 12,500 points each way in economy and 25,000 points each way in business class.
- When redeeming Iberia Avios for Iberia flights, the fuel surcharges are low. It’s possible to transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios if you have an Iberia account that’s been open 90 days and has earned points in some way (such as transferring 1000 points in from American Express Membership rewards). Transfer BA to Iberia, redeem for Iberia flights, save on fuel surcharges.