A Strategy to Avoid Fuel Surcharges on AAdvantage Tickets to London

Booking an AAdvantage award ticket to London on British Airways is notorious for the fuel surcharges that are added on to the ticket. For a one-way ticket in Business Class, that’s almost an extra $450 – yikes!

There’s an interesting way to help reduce the cost of the surcharges you’ll pay, though it takes a bit of creative thinking.

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You’ll see in the example below, I’ve noted two sets of flights – one non-stop in Business Class to London, costing 50,00 AAdvantage miles and $441 in taxes/fees.

The second flight is the “trick” to escaping some of these fees.


If you book two separate awards, you’ll notice what happens to the taxes you’ll pay. So, let’s say I book a JFK to Zurich non-stop flight on American in Business Class. I’ll end up paying 50,000 miles for this flight and only $5.60 in taxes – a steal. Then, to get to London, I book a separate ticket – this time 10,000 miles and $37.30 in taxes/fees – from Zurich to London City (you can also do this to Heathrow or Gatwick — it doesn’t matter). Now, for this second flight I chose to book it in economy class, since it was such a short flight, I wanted to save miles. You can choose to book this in Business Class for a higher fare. In the end, you’re only paying 10,000 miles extra to avoid close to $400 in taxes/fees – not bad.

Actually, if you want to reduce this cost even more, you can use only 4,500 British Airways Avios from Zurich to London, saving you a bit of miles.

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Now, there’s several things you’ll need to note:

  • This is not a legal connection, and therefore you’re booking two separate awards. If one flight is late or canceled, you’ll be stuck with a “connecting” award you won’t be able to use.
  • You don’t need to fly into Zurich — try another alternate city instead. You also don’t need to fly out of JFK.
  • You have to be willing to fly to an alternate airport in some cases. Sometimes you’ll be able to do Heathrow, but in other cases only London City or Gatwick may be available from the city you’ll be “connecting” in.
  • This works out of London as well, though note you’ll have a different set of taxes and prices to play with.

Have you ever used this strategy before to avoid paying the hefty fuel surcharges in and out of London?

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  1. Joe says

    You call that a “strategy?”… Fly somewhere else and then go to London? I call that a firm grasp on the obvious.

  2. Lack says

    Why isn’t that a legal connection for one award?
    Why not book it as one multi-city ticket to avoid being stranded?

  3. rick b says

    Mr Obvious forgot one important detail: AA has such a pitiful availability on its own planes that this will almost never work. There’s a reason why Oneworld availability to Europe is so saturated with BA metal. That’s all that’s left and nobody wants to book it due to the surcharges

  4. GloverParker says

    “If one flight is late or canceled, you’ll be stuck with a “connecting” award you won’t be able to use.” — OneWorld airlines will always re-accommodate you, even if you’re booked on separate tickets so you will be able to use it, even if you misconnect.

      • John says

        Why do you say is not a legal connection when the connection time is 130 minutes apart?

        I would think it should be possible to book JFK-XXX-LHR as a single award for 50K as long as you’re connecting between Oneworld carriers

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