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BillT Apr 25th, 2012 03:36 PM

UA FF vs. AA/BA FF miles awards
Ok its been quite a while since I cashed in a FF award to travel to Europe or Asia. I was going to use my BA FF miles for two tickets to Paris until I saw that they were going to charge me $1,000. Ok so I switched to AA FF miles and these guys wanted $600 each to cash in a ff award trip to Europe. Now I looked on United and these guys were more reasonable- only $50 each to use a ff award to Asia. Can someone explain to me why people would travel on AA or BA with these type of charges for ff mile awards? Used to be that as long as you had the accrued miles the flights were free- now some of these airlines are gouging their best customers - and for me driving me away from AA and BA to United.

Betsy Apr 25th, 2012 06:05 PM

It's not about your airline; it's about your destination. I understand that travel to Europe is loaded with taxes and fuel surcharges, while travel to most anywhere else in the world is not. We were just charged $28+ USD using FF miles on UA from SFO to SYD.

You could check this out by comparing apples to apples and doing a trial booking on AA to Europe and Asia and a trial booking on UA to Europe and Asia.

Gardyloo Apr 25th, 2012 07:30 PM

<i>It's not about your airline; it's about your destination.</i>

No, sadly, it's more about the airline than the destination, although some destinations have very high departure taxes (most notably the UK.)

British Airways passes through its fuel surcharges to mileage redemption tickets, and since BA and American have adopted a joint business venture, now AA is also passing through BA's fuel surcharges when AA miles are used on BA flights. Since there are many more BA flights between the US and UK than AA flights, it's often the case that the only mileage seats you can get are on BA planes, so you're stuck. If you use your BA miles for domestic US flights, or flights on AA to Asia or Latin America, you'll be spared the fuel surcharges (shown as "YQ" or sometimes "YR" on the table of "taxes." They're NOT taxes, they're general revenues to the airline.)

BA is not alone; other airlines, including the likes of Singapore, also hit you for "fuel fines" on redemption travel, although as far as I know BA is in a league of its own in terms of the amounts. I don't think United does so on most routes, but given the copy-cat nature of the industry, how long that will be the case is anybody's guess. My guess is not long.

Betsy Apr 25th, 2012 07:38 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Gardyloo. When we flew on AA/BA using FF miles from SFO to Rome through Heathrow in November 2011, there were no surcharges added to our tickets. I think we paid about 5 USD for booking the flight. Have no idea why some flights have huge surcharges and others do not.

Rastaguytoday Apr 25th, 2012 08:12 PM

Gardyloo - Spot on.

BillT Apr 26th, 2012 05:24 AM

I will not be flying AA or BA. I will use my AA and BA FF miles for hotel stays.

P_M Apr 26th, 2012 12:51 PM

Same here BillT. We have both AA and BA points but the "free" plane tickets have become expensive. We are making plans for Italy next year and instead of using our points for tickets we will use them for hotels. At some point we will decide if we should stay with AAdvantage or go back to United.

Award tickets are still a good deal for domestic flights. Our tickets for this year's trip to Hawaii only cost $10 each.

BillT Apr 26th, 2012 01:46 PM

Its a lot easier to use them for hotels, finding a free flight can be problematic aside from the rediculous fees that AA and BA now attaches to "free" flights.

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