Fuel surcharges are imposed by British Airways when it redeems miles or points. There is a program that can allow you to reduce these significantly.

The basics of British Airways’ high surcharges

Fuel surcharges on award tickets may be the first thing that comes to mind for people in the miles and points world. A one-way ticket from Newark to London on British Airways will cost you $879.80 in taxes, fees, and carrier imposed surcharges.

Business class award using British Airways Avios
First class award using British Airways Avios

You are on the hook for these surcharges even when you book through a partner program. They are mostly the same, even though they might vary by partner.

The Alaska Mileage Plan has the same fees as British Airways.

British Airways award using Alaska Mileage Plan miles

The fees are a bit lower through American A Advantage.

British Airways award using American AAdvantage miles

Avoid fuel surcharges with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

There are a few sweet spots to the program, but it isn't my favorite frequent flyer program. British Airways awards have lower fees than other programs, and that's one of the reasons.

You might think that you don't have any Cathay Pacific miles. You can transfer rewards at a 3:1 ratio from Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, and Chase UltimateRewards if you choose to.

The savings can be large. The British Airways Executive Club fees for flights from Newark to London are $879.80, which is less than the price of a Newark to London flight. The savings are huge.

British Airways first class award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
British Airways business class award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

The primary benefit of premium economy and economy is for first and business class. British Airways Executive Club charges $329 for a premium economy award, and you would pay $247 with Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles. That is still better, but not as great.

Premium economy award using British Airways Avios
British Airways premium economy award using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

How do you figure out the number of miles required for a British Airways award? If you want to redeem flight awards, you have to go to the Cathay Pacific website. If you only enter the origin, destination, and airline, you can see the cost of redemptions in each cabin.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles’ British Airways award pricing

You don't need a points balance to access this page if you are a member of the Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles.

A US East Coast to London flight will cost you 61,000 miles in business class or 87,000 miles in first class, while a US West Coast to London flight will cost you 75,000 miles in business class or 100,000 miles in first class.

Is booking British Airways awards through Cathay Pacific worth it?

Most people would rather spend $250 than $880 to redeem for an award ticket. For first and business class, the value of Cathay Pacific miles on British Airways is obvious.

There are other reasons this may not make sense.

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles charges $120 or 17,000 miles to redeposit an award, while Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage allow free redeposits; if you’re not sure you’ll travel, that’s something to keep in mind
  • In many cases, Cathay Pacific’s mileage requirements are significantly higher than you’d pay through other programs, so you should factor the value of miles into your math as well
  • If you’re starting with transferable points currencies, we often see 25-40% transfer bonuses to British Airways Executive Club, while we don’t see nearly as many transfer bonuses to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, so in some cases the different in points can be huge when factoring that in

This is a useful thing to know, but I don't think it's a slam dunk.

Booking British Airways awards through Cathay Pacific can make sense

Bottom line

British Airways has high fuel surcharges. Fees for British Airways awards are a small portion of what you would pay with most other programs.

It isn't always the best option for booking due to the cost and cancelation terms.

What do you think about British Airways' use of Cathay Pacific miles?