I’ve often said that fuel surcharges on award tickets – the scourge of any notion of ‘loyalty’ – can be worth paying in certain circumstances. Sure, the loyalty program is extorting you. However it’s like buying a discounted coach ticket that doesn’t earn miles, and redeeming for a triple upgrade from coach to first class.
There was a time I’d go to great lengths to avoid paying fuel surcharges, but now that I have a young daughter:
- I highly value a single connection and a non-stop transatlantic flight from Austin. Currently there are only three: British Airways, Lufthansa, and Norwegian. Of those only BA offers first class, and award availability on the flight is excellent.
- Fuel surcharges are somewhat mitigated by their generous infant award policy – you pay 10% of the cost of an adult award (in miles and in fees) rather than paying 10% of the cost of a paid ticket.
Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris with a crib
My wife loves Paris. I’ve never been as big a fan of big Western European cities. To make a trip work for the three of us meant:
- Coordinating availability of the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris on points, along with confirmed globalist suite upgrade availability, and availability of the Austin – London Heathrow non-stop on British Airways.
- I definitely wanted to book at least one roundtrip using British Airways Avios. I was going to pay fuel surcharges anyway, but booking via British Airways meant paying 10% of the mileage, taxes, and fees rather than 10% the relevant fare that American would charge.
- I had enough British Airways Avios for 1.5 roundtrips. Did I want to transfer American Express points with the current 40% transfer bonus to book the final one way, or book it via American AAdvantage?
- Booking roundtrip tickets wouldn’t be an option, regardless, since for a U.S.-originating itinerary you pay lower fuel surcharges booking two one way tickets on British Airways than you do booking a round trip. That’s because a roundtrip charges double the U.S. departing surcharge, but booking one ways gets you a high fuel surcharge (U.S. departure) and a lower one (Europe departure). At least, originating outside the U.K. on the return, I always wouldn’t have to pay UK luxury tax (air passenger duty).
- Ultimately I decided to burn American Airlines miles for one of the four one way tickets. That’s because while I have seven figure balances with both Chase and American Express that transfer to British Airways, I have an even bigger AAdvantage balance to work with and I prefer the flexibility that Membership Rewards points offer.
- I did need to transfer 5000 Membership Rewards points over to BA to top off my Executive Club account so I’d have enough points for the roundtrip infant award.
British Airways First Class Bed
All of this, except for confirming the Park Hyatt suite, was accomplished online. Once I’d made it that far I still needed to,
- Purchase the infant ticket (~ 18,000 miles and $120) over the phone
- Reserve seats (I wanted to ensure i had the one seat in the cabin that permits attaching the child seat for the long haul flights in each direction)
- Request a cabana in the Concorde Room via YouFirst request form
British Airways Concorde Room Cabana
At the end of the day I spent just over half a million points and $2000 for two roundtrip first class British Airways tickets between Austin and Paris, plus an infant ticket, and five nights in a suite at the Park Hyatt Vendome. (The suite itself was fetching ~ US$1320 a night for the dates of our planned stay.)
That’s hardly the best award ticket I’ve booked, but it makes my wife happy. I sure had to jump through hoops to book it though.