Master Charts to Avoiding Fuel Surcharges (YQ)

You want to go somewhere far away, but some of the miles you have will pass on fuel surcharges and some won’t. And of the miles that pass on massive fuel surcharges, the charges apply to to some airlines and not others.

These charts that I’ve put together let you know who you can fly with to avoid fuel surcharges.

Note: Prices are in USD and are roundtrips from North America to the hubs of the airlines. For North American airlines, the flight will start in the hub and go to Europe.

Star Alliance Fuel Surcharges

Let me explain how this chart works. Really you need to understand what the top row means. First is the “airline” category, the airline you are flying/booking on. This is not whose miles you are using, but who you are using them to fly with.

The next thing to know is that “YQ” is short code for “fuel surcharges”. And ITA is the official pricing of how the airline codes their ticket. This sounds confusing, but it’s only because we’re using airline speak. But really, ITA YQ is showing us how many dollars the airline ALWAYS charges for fuel surcharges.

From left to right, you can see how much of any given ticket will be made up of fuel surcharges. When flying on Air Canada for example you can see that the official YQ (fuel surcharge price) is $310. You can see when using Air Canada miles to fly on Air Canada, you pay $320. When using Lufthansa miles to fly Air Canada, you pay $326 for YQ, and with United you miles would pay $0.

Again “Airline” refers to the airline flown while the other columns refer to a mileage program used to fly that airline, (excluding the second column which is just the airline-assigned fuel surcharge.)

Airline ITA YQ Aeroplan YQ LH YQ UA YQ
Air Canada 310 320 326 0
Air China 278 0 278 0
Air New Zealand 30 30 30 0
ANA 586 586 590 0
Asiana Airlines 302 302 302 0
Austrian 516 516 516 0
Avianca 0 0 0 0
Brussels Airlines 516 0 516 0
EgyptAir 305 0 352 0
Ethiopian Airlines 378 0 352 0
LOT 380 120 120 0
Lufthansa 516 516 516 0
Scandinavian Airlines 496 0 496 0
Singapore Airlines 280 0 280 0
South African Airways 386 0 504 0
Swiss 516 0 516 0
TACA 0 0 0 0
TAP 516 194 516 0
Thai Airways 386 386 396 0
Turkish 252 0 356 0
United 458 0 458 0

What does this chart tell us?

If you have Air Canada miles or Lufthansa miles, you can see which airlines to avoid fuel surcharges with, and then book flights on those.

Heck, if you have any miles that would pass on fuel surcharges, you can check which airline registers no YQ with ITA and book on them, as they have no fuel surcharges to pass on.

*Note that flights within the Americas don’t have YQ to pass on.*

Who in Star Alliance doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges?

United and Avianca are mileage programs that do not pass on an airline’s fuel surcharges when redeeming miles. And as you can see, Air Canada does better than ITA sometimes.

 

OneWorld Fuel Surcharges

The OneWorld fuel surcharge situation is pretty black and white. When you use British Airways you get fuel surcharges, except on airlines that don’t have them to pass on. When you use AA miles, you don’t get fuel surcharges (except when flying on BA). This is the way it most falls.

 

Airline ITA BA AA
AirBerlin 0 0 0
American Airlines (& USA) 0 0 0
– AA/USA to Asia 358 0 0
– AA/USA to Europe 516 516 0
British Airways 458 458 458
Cathay Pacific 224 224 0
Finnair 302 302 0
Iberia 496 496 96
JAL 586 586 0
LAN 0 0 0
Malaysia 600 194 (0 within Asia) 0
Qantas 680 680 0
Royal Jordanian 394 ? 0
US Airways 0 0 0

and now TAM has 0 fuel surcharges.

 

Note that flights within the Americas don’t have YQ to pass on.

Who in OneWorld doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges?

AA, US Airways, and possibly LAN (I think?).

 

SkyTeam Fuel Surcharges

Not much good news here. See most everyone in SkyTeam both passes on fuel surcharges and has fuel surcharges to pass on. I think the technical term for this is called “a lose – lose situation”.  Never the less, this is how ITA shows their flights.

Airline ITA YQ
Aeroflot 258
AeroMexico 1.3
Air Europa 496
Air France 516
Alitalia 516
China Airlines 250
China Eastern Airlines 358
China Southern Airlines 325
Czech Airlines 534
Delta 516
Kenya Airways 326
KLM 516
Korean Air 302
Saudia 0
Vietnam Airlines 287

 

Conclusion

Bookmark this page for next time you need to do a booking.

If you have any information to add, I would love to hear it in the comments since i’m always trying to create better posts on the topic. This is something that can always be improved. If you know of more airlines that don’t pass on fuel surcharges, or exceptions (like how AC doesn’t always pass on YQ), let me know!

Cheers, and may your YQ be zero.
– Drew

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63 Comments

  1. Wow, this must’ve taken some time to pull together. Thanks for creating this resource!

    Reply
    • Glad you appreciate it.

      Reply
    • great job! Big thanks for that

      Reply
  2. Great resource!
    To add to the Skyteam information: Two days ago I needed to book a one-way domestic US award with Delta… so I actually booked through AF/KL FlyingBlue (which allows this). They did not charge YQ on the fare and I only had to pay 12,500 mi + $2.50 regular US tax for my one-way Delta flight.

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting. Should add a note about exceptions with domestic flights.

      Reply
  3. While the SkyTeam chart is rather doom-gloom, it’s nice to know that you can still use your DL SkyPesos for redemptions on Virgin Australia without YQ.

    Reply
    • Great addition. Thanks.

      Reply
  4. Great resource, thanks for all the time it must have taken to track down all the numbers!

    I have a question which is probably simple or answered somewhere else and I just haven’t found it yet…How do I use one airline’s award miles to travel with another airline? I have tons of BA miles and want to avoid the fuel surcharges. Do I try to book through the BA web site, or through a partner airline web site, or do I need to find the flight on the partner web site and then call BA?

    Also I noticed on the US Airways site that their award miles program has merged with American Air. Do you know if this will affect their policies about fuel charges?

    Reply
    • 1) You can book AA and some partner flights on BA.com. You won’t be able to find some certain partner award space, but you can try using other oneworld partners’ websites: such as Quantas and Japan Airlines.

      All the Oneworld airlines should technically share the same access to award availability. Others also use paid websites such as AwardNexus or Expertflyer.

      You can google how to search for oneworld award availability to find more info. If you just want book a simple AA flight using BA Avios, just use the BA website as it works flawlessly for that purpose.

      2) US Airways award program hasn’t merged with AA yet, the date of the official award program merger is still up in the air. Only that has changed is that US Airways has joined Oneworld, hence now has award access to Oneworld awards (and some limited-time partner awards) instead of Star Alliance.

      Reply
    • Great, thanks Kliff! I really appreciate it.

      Reply
    • Update – I’ve been cruising the BA web site and older TravelIsFree posts this afternoon, but every time I search reward tickets on the BA site it a) routes me through LHR and b) does not show any partner airlines. Even when I try routes specifically mentioned as working with partner airlines, like from Dublin to the east coast of the US. When I try searching on a partner airline, like Quantas, I cannot sign in without using the Quantas frequent flier number. Sooo I guess I still have my question…how to find/book flights with airlines that partner with BA, with BA avios?

      Reply
    • Thanks Kliff for a great reply.

      I’ll add a couple things.

      1) This post outlines finding award seats with Qantas – http://travelisfree.com/2014/03/03/how-to-use-qantas-to-find-oneworld-award-space/

      2) You can always call. If BA’s website if funky just call an agent. Of course, that’s not as it used to be now they don’t have a US call center. I use skype anyways though.
      http://www.britishairways.com/travel/contact-executive-club/public/en_gb

      3) You can create a trial on expert flyer… but it’s like the most un user friendly site ever. But do award search for AA or something on there and it should work.

      Also, depends on the route. AA does search a few airlines, like Air Berlin, that might provide alternative routings to LHR.

      Reply
  5. What a great & informative post.

    travelisfree.com is the Gold Standard, Drew. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks DiffPaul. 😉
      Glad to hear it’s a gilded post. Also glad to hear quality over quantity appreciated.

      Reply
  6. Thanks for the great post! I think BA also do not charge Alaska YQ. Also, is ANA charging all partners YQ?

    Reply
    • ANA is almost exactly what ITA is. Although I should probably check it out one at a time. Also, good time on Alaska.

      Reply
  7. What about NH and JL? Great works!

    Reply
    • Pretty much straight ITA passing on fuel. Although, I haven’t ever booked with JL, so maybe worth checking into. And it’s still something I should go through completely with NH.

      Reply
  8. I often get hit with a lot of taxes and fees for connecting through London, even when flying on AA. Maybe this isn’t exactly the same as fuel surcharges, but it’s still a significant hit …

    Reply
    • LHR is pretty darn bad. As much as I like London. I totally avoid LHR on award tickets if I can.

      Reply
  9. You are in a league of your own!

    Reply
    • My life would be complete if Travel is Free had an actual Fan Club… with more than 1 person. Not that you aren’t special… it’s just that it would give legitimacy to the club. :-p

      But really. Big thanks for reading! :-)

      Reply
  10. Very helpful chart that just saved me a world of time, thanks for doing this!

    Reply
    • Glad it’s helpful. It’s helpful to me, so worth doing anyways.

      Reply
  11. Nice chart and great information, but I noticed that some alliance airlines are missing? For example, I have heard that Eva Air has lower fuel surcharges when using LH miles, but don’t see them in the chart.

    Reply
    • Mmmmm… I need to add them. Forgot about that. Thanks for reminding me. Will do that soon.

      Reply
    • EVA (BR) should be added, no YQ, and best ways to Asia

      Reply
    • BKK-AMS YQ $144 with BR, I cheked via ITA matrix. Any routes with $0 YQ with BR?

      Reply
  12. Agree with TrAAveler, Virgin Australia not generating YQ while using Delta should be added to your chart.

    Reply
    • Great to hear. Will certainly use that info.

      Reply
  13. You can add S7 and RJ to the airlines that BA does charge YQ on.

    Reply
    • S7 doesn’t have routes to North America so I left it out. But I’ll try to go back soon and add another example.

      Reply
  14. This is a great chart, I have bookmarked it. One thing you might want to consider when putting together a multi airline award is what airports are you transiting? Certain airports have much higher taxes than others (LHR for example). The fee is no where near the price of YQ but can make a $200 per ticket difference. Any chance you will make a table of airport transit fees for us, Drew?

    Reply
    • We’ve talked about making something like this actually. It’s a little tricky, but may get around to it soon! If not, remind me. :-p

      Reply
  15. Nice chart.
    Note that BA does collect YQ for AA flights to Asia. Click through to select a flight, never rely on the initial estimate on BA.com

    Also much of this stuff is route dependent, so no QF YQ intra-Australia for example.

    How come you didn’t do a DL/FB comparison for ST?

    Reply
    • Great notes Dan. Didn’t realize that. I guess I always assume that if there’s no YQ built in that “can’t” pass it on. But ya know, BA does what they want.

      Yea it is tough… maybe I should clarify it as an international master chart. Err… a North American international master chart to avoiding fuel surcharges. Or something like that.

      The honest answer about SkyTeam is that I never use it so I didn’t have the info off hand. Like most of my posts, I just used personal info I already had. I should take the time to research more info both for myself and this post.
      Plus I thought DL passes on all fuel surcharges. Am I wrong? No idea about others.

      Reply
  16. Wow, great chart! Thanks so much. Another reason why this is my favorite (and most useful) travel-hacking blog.

    Reply
    • Thanks Dizzy. And truly thanks for sticking around and reading.

      Reply
    • De Nada

      Reply
  17. what about the new partners SriLanka and Meridiana? 😀

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    • Well, 1) was doing flights from North America and Sri Lanka doesn’t get there. Although, they are big enough that they’re still relevant. and 2) Forgot about them. :-p

      And Meridiana isn’t set on joining OneWorld, are they? IDK, but would have never thought about them. I look into em if they’re joining soon though.

      Reply
  18. Awesome chart!! Next up – TravelIsFree teaches us Jedi Mind Trick to waive YQ. YOU DON’T REALLY WANT TO PASS THROUGH YQ DO YOU. (Note: doesn’t work on Hut Airlines)

    Reply
  19. Excellent start……..Alaska is definitely one that needs to be added……..

    Reply
  20. Just booked a flight from DFW to Perth, Australia. Qatar airlines charged 528.00 for YQ

    Reply
  21. I just booked Singapore Airlines awards using KrisFlyer miles. I booked first awards from PVG-SIN-AKL and the total YQ taxes came out to 382 SGD. However on ITA matrix for the same exact route and day, the total YQ taxes show 297 SGD. Is there a discrepancy on ITA matrix or Singapore Airlines when it comes to calculating YQ? Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Iberia definitely has fuel surcharges with AA sadly

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  23. Important. YR is also fuel surcharge. Please update your writeup.

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  24. Hi Drew,

    this chart is excellent :-)
    However, it would be even better (at least from my point of view) if it showed also YQ for award flights booked using Air Berlin TopBonus miles.
    Air Berlin is well know for very high YQ which you have to pay, if redeem miles to award flights on their own planes. Therefore, I’m looking for possibility to use my TopBonus miles for a flight with much lower (or non-existent) YQ, operated by TopBonus partners. New column in your chart wolud really help me, as well as other TopBonus members :-)
    Best regards from Poland, Bartek

    Reply
  25. Any help with Air India as they now have joined *A ?

    Can I use Air India miles to book *A without YQ ?
    They charge YQ on their own flights.

    Reply
  26. I booked a flight on QF LHR-SYD this week, and surcharge was $US306.

    Reply
    • Using what miles? And roundtrip or oneway? Because that could just be the airport taxes for LHR and SYD.

      Reply
  27. great article, thanks!

    Reply
  28. I collect points with a Canadian bank (RBC Avion Visa) where flights can be redeemed with any airline. Any idea how that would work with regard to fuel surcharges?

    Reply
  29. Hi Drew,

    Do you have any update on flying Qatar between Qatar amd Europe/NAmerica using BA Avios? Many thanks.

    Reply
  30. Can you email me the title of the newsletter that went out Monday, Sept 30th 2013? I’d like to read the rest of The NEW United’s Stopover and Routing Rules. Thank you.

    Reply
  31. Late to the show here but had a question I can’t find any info on:

    I am looking to book a trip between SDF (Louisville) and LHR (London) with ANA. I have an ANA Mileage Club account, with no miles currently (am in the process of earning credit card bonus with Amex to transfer). After I log-in the ANA website is reporting a cost of 55,000 miles and $200 in taxes/fees/charges. Given what I have read about their high fees I am wondering if this amount is not all inclusive and fuel charges or some other fee will get tacked on at a later point in the booking process? Does anyone know? Thank you so much for the help. As best I can tell the flights are with United.

    Reply
  32. Great work thank you.

    Isn’t there a mistake though one the *alliance chart.
    You say United does not pass on the Lufthansa YQ but your table shows a 458 YQ for flying United with Lufthansa miles if I read it well.

    Reply
    • The columns are which miles you are using. When using United miles there is no YQ on Lufthansa.
      When using Lufthansa miles to book united flights, there is YQ.

      Reply
  33. Thanks for this. Could you also do a chart on redeeming Etihad miles considering it has so many partners now.

    Reply
  34. Hi Drew,
    Just as like Addie asked earlier here, please update about Fuel surcharges on flying Qatar between Qatar/Middle East/India and Europe/N America using BA Avios?
    Thank you so much for such a great informative blog. The India train trip was really interesting.

    Reply
  35. Thanks so much for all your useful resources! Really appreciate it!!! You have the best travel website by far!

    Reply
  36. hi..
    if i using Singapore airlines miles, which airline that without YQ ?

    Reply

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