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British Airways is launching a new route from San Jose to London on May 4, 2016.
The new route will be flown by a 787-9 Dreamliner with flat beds in Business and First Classes. I wrote about the British Airways Dreamliner product and award space on its first four announced routes here.
The new route has excellent Business Class award space at the moment (not quite as good as a few days ago), and this is extra relevant because for a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Yeah, but what about the fuel surcharges?” They’re not nearly as bad as you think. Frankly most people look at British Airways award space wrong. For instance, this post by The Points Guy shows the price of a roundtrip in British Airways Business Class from San Jose to London costs 100,000 American Airlines miles + $1,258.
That’s true, but that’s also literally the worst way to book this award space. British Airways award flights have fuel surcharges when booked with all types of miles, but there are ways to greatly minimize these fuel surcharges.
For instance, just booking that exact same roundtrip as two one way awards will drop the fuel surcharges a couple hundred bucks.
The return one way is $565.
That’s $1,045 roundtrip, which is $213 cheaper than booking a roundtrip.
But even better than that, just book a one way from Europe to the United States and start it from a low-tax, low-surcharge city.
How to Save a Ton on British Airways Fuel Surcharges
There is no way to save on fuel surcharges when departing from the United States to Europe on British Airways flights, so don’t fly those flights. Use United miles or another type with no fuel surcharges to get to Europe.
There is a way to save a lot on fuel surcharges and taxes when flying home from Europe though.
Taxes vary greatly by city of departure in Europe, and so do fuel surcharges, which British Airways changes based on competition in the market and other factors that have nothing to do with the price of fuel.
Book yourself a one way award home from Europe on British Airways flights, but don’t start in London. London has the highest departure taxes. Return from a lower tax country, which might also have lower surcharges.
Remember that just London to San Jose cost $565.
If you want to go to multiple cities in Europe on one trip, play around to see how much money you can save by returning from the city with the lowest taxes and fuel surcharges.
I would gladly pay 50,000 American Airlines miles plus $257 for a one way award from Oslo to San Jose. United wants 70,000 miles for a comparable Business Class product, and Delta wants 62,500 miles. Saving all those miles for only about $200 more than the taxes on United and Delta awards would be is a fair trade off.
Award Space London to San Jose
Having said that the way to book British Airways award space is to book the return from Europe only, let’s look at award space from London to San Jose next Spring and Summer on the new direct flight. Remember that you will not start in London, but in another European city. Award space intra-Europe is excellent.
Award space from London to San Jose is widely available from May 4 until June 30. Then it abruptly ends, with no award space in July.
Contrast that with San Jose to London space (which you probably don’t want to book because there is no way to lower the fuel surcharges dramatically), which is most available in July 2016. Economy award space is also widely available, though I cannot justify the fuel surcharges since United and Delta charge the same price as American for economy awards to Europe. First Class space is almost non-existent, though I did spot one day.
Getting the Miles
For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Europe with one way in Business Class.
The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® also offers Admirals Club lounge membership, meaning you can access over 90 American Airlines Clubs in airports around the world whenever you’re flying–even if you’re not flying on American. Plus you can bring in any two guests for free OR your spouse and all children under 18 for free on each visit. This is why the card has a $450 annual fee; new membership in the Admirals Club usually costs $500.
Award space is widely available on British Airways’ new San Jose <-> London flight that launches May 4, 2016 on a 787-9 Dreamliner.
Here’s how to save a grand: Instead of paying 100,000 miles + $1,257 for a roundtrip in Business Class on the direct flights, pay 50,000 miles + $257 for a one way return from Oslo to London to San Jose, and book a one way to Europe for just $6 in taxes with another type of miles.
Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.