Virgin Atlantic Reduces Fuel Surcharges on Coach Awards

Two days ago NotiFlyer flagged a Virgin Atlantic sale on economy reward tickets.

Through June 17, 2013, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can redeem 25 percent fewer miles for coach award flights.

For example, you can fly between the U.K. and New York for 26,000 miles roundtrip (normally 35,000 miles) or San Francisco for 35,000 miles (normally 47,500 miles).

The 25 percent discount only applies to coach tickets booked by June 17, 2013. Other discounted routes include flights between the U.K. and Cancun, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Shanghai, Tokyo and the Caribbean.

I didn’t pay it much mind, because Virgin’s fuel surcharges have historically made economy redemptions utterly irrational — you spend miles but still come out of pocket the bulk of a paid fare.

But as Head for Points notes, Virgin has actually reduced their fuel surcharges for economy awards (must be logged in to view).

Hold that thought! You may have noticed that we’ve lowered the amount of Fuel Surcharge on these long haul Economy flights. This change won’t just apply to this offer period, so keep up to date via our Reward Flights pages as more information follows.

This follows Air France KLM’s capping of fuel surcharges, most dramatically for economy redemptions.

Head for Points contrasts Virgin’s still-expensive new tax/fuel surcharge total against British Airways’..

Some examples of the new taxes and surcharges figures are (return, Economy):
New York £240 (British Airways: £359)
Barbados £237 (British Airways: £328)
Las Vegas £213 (British Airways: £356)
Johannesburg £362 (British Airways: £400)
Dubai £243 (British Airways: £335)

This would make me think that there’s a general trend towards reduced fuel surcharges for European frequent flyer programs, especially since in November 2011 when British Airways gutted their frequent flyer program for long haul redemptions they did cap fuel surcharges for intra-European redemptions (for members who keep their accounts regularly active).

However, Loyalty Lobby points out an announcement from Iberia that their version of the Avios program will be eliminating the benefit of reduced fuel surcharges for intra-European redemptions.

Hopefully that change doesn’t also get matched by the British Airways version of the program, especially since you can move points from Iberia to BA to make those redemptions with the arbitrage then saving on fuel surcharges (just as the reverse version of arbitrage can be used to save on fuel surcharges when redeeming for Iberia flights).

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. Moving in the right direction, but still too high. Why not just redeem your flying club points on US airways until mid June? When will Delta be a partner airline?

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