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 New Zealand||30||30||30||0|
|South African Airways||386||0||504||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.
|American Airlines (& USA)||0||0||0|
|– AA/USA to Asia||358||0||0|
|– AA/USA to Europe||516||516||0|
|Malaysia||600||194 (0 within Asia)||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.
|China Eastern Airlines||358|
|China Southern Airlines||325|
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.