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The airports in Europe with taxes so low BA business class awards are only ~$200 in fees

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British Airways

When you’re using miles for a big trip, you want to avoid having to pay money on top of your hard earned miles for an award.

And when Europe is in the cards, the fees on top of miles can add up fast. Between notorious fuel surcharges and airport fees, you can end up paying $1,000 or more on an ‘award’ ticket, which make the wide open award space you see on British Airways flights across the Atlantic a cruel tease.

But there is a way to make BA flight fees a lot more reasonable.

Here’s a table with approximate airport taxes (not including carrier fuel charges) for the major airports in Europe with flights to the U.S. The difference between the worst and best airports for taxes and fees can save you over $200, and when you pick a low fee airport, you can make even British Airways flights palatable with miles, giving you fresh ways to use Avios.

Warsaw $14
Stockholm $17
Copenhagen $19
Oslo $23
Barcelona $23
Dublin $23
Amsterdam $24
Geneva $27
Madrid $28
Brussels $29
Lisbon $29
Milan $32
Zurich $34
Rome $41
Paris $55 ($98 Business Class)
Berlin $67
Munich $73
Frankfurt $88
London – Heathrow $142 ($234 Business Class)

Here’s Dublin to New York via London on British Airways. Because you’re just connecting in London you avoid the worst of the taxes, and enjoy Dublin’s relatively low taxes and fees, paying just $217 for a Business Class flight.


Compare that to $450 for a Business Class flight from London to New York.


Other low tax airports like Stockholm also work out like this, with charges of just $216 in Business Class.


There’s something else at play here too…

Surcharges are lower when you book a ticket that originates in Europe. A Business Class roundtrip from New York to Stockholm on British Airways will cost you about $1,000 in taxes and fees, like this below.


But if you book it as two one-ways, you’ll pay $479 on the way out, and $216 on the way back, for a total of $695, saving over $300 by booking the return separately.


The best strategy is to book no surcharge options on your way to Europe, like using United miles. And on the way back you have the flexibility to use Avios for British Airways options out of a low fee airport, and pay more reasonable fuel surcharges.

To summarize, if you want to fly British Airways across the Atlantic with low fees:

  • Only book BA awards that start in Europe
  • Only book them starting from airports with low taxes like Dublin or Stockholm (though some other low tax airports like Milan aren’t quite as attractive because of varying fuel surcharges)

If you follow those two rules, you’ll open up a lot more reasonably priced award options that leverage British Airways’ fantastic award space, letting you book Business Class across the Atlantic for only about $200 in fees.

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November 25, 2015