Fuel surcharges can mostly be avoided by choosing what airline you fly on. You can also save taxes by avoiding certain airports such as London Heathrow. It’s slightly complicated because each reward program has its own rules in regards to what airlines they charge a fuel surcharge for. However, this detailed report will give you a good idea of how to avoid fuel surcharges.

Note: This article is talking about fuel surcharges only. Government taxes and fees are always charged.

Airlines that DO NOT impose fuel surcharges on ANY award flight (except for flights on British Airways in most cases):

  • United
  • US Airways
  • Alaska Air
  • South African Air
  • Emirates
  • Allegiant
  • Avianca/Taca
  • Frontier
  • JetBlue
  • LAN
  • TAM
  • Southwest
  • Spirit

For other airlines, a fuel surcharge is imposed on certain airlines. Here is a rundown on some popular reward programs and how to avoid fuel surcharges.

Air Canada

Fuel surcharges are applied to all partner airlines except for Aegeon, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, EgyptAir, Croatia, SAS, South African, TAM, Ethiopian, EVA Air, Scandinavian, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, and United, and US Airways.

Al Nippon (ANA)

Fuel surcharges are applied to most booking but are typically less than what other programs charge.

American Airlines

Fuel surcharges are applied to British Airways and Iberia.

British Airways

Known as the worst airline for fuel surcharges, you can avoid it by booking flights operated by Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, and LAN. Another option is American Airlines if the flights take place within the Americas.


Fuel surcharges are added to Aeroflot, Air Europa, China Airlines, Air Tahiti Nui, China Eastern, Czech, Malaysian, Kenya Airways, and Vietnam Airlines. Fuel surcharges are also imposed on most flights originating in Europe.


No fuel surcharge for flights operated by Avianca, TAM, Virgin America, and Virgin Australia domestic flights. For flights within the Americas, there is no charge for United Airlines and US Airways as well.

Virgin America

Fuel surcharges are imposed on Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and Emirates.

Virgin Atlantic

No fuel surcharges on Hawaiian, ANA domestic, Virgin America, Delta, Virgin Australia domestic, and South African domestic.

Three Simplified Tips for Avoiding Fuel Surcharges

1. Earn Miles/Points with Flexible Transfer Partners

By earning with reward programs that offer transfers to a variety of reward programs, you can decide what program to redeem with based on your travel plans.

There are five reward programs that allow transfers including American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Dines Club Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and the Starwood Preferred program. Not only do these programs offer you the ability to transfer points but you can also redeem them towards paid tickets (although this only gives you a valuation of 1 cent per point/mile).

2. Book with Carriers that Don’t Charge Fuel Surcharges

Depending on the airline you fly and the reward program you book with, fuel surcharges can vary dramatically. By looking at the information provided in this guide, you’ll see what airlines are best for avoiding these taxes. Just pay attention when choosing your destination and reward program.

3. Choose a Destination Without Fuel Surcharges

Obviously, if you really want to go to a specific place, then the fuel surcharges shouldn’t stop you. However, if you’re open to destinations and want to avoid extra cash, there are additional options. For example, airports in London, England and almost anywhere in Japan have high taxes. However, there are destinations where award flights don’t incur any fuel surcharges at all due to certain laws. Brazil is one of these countries. In fact, airports in North America and South America are often much cheaper than what you’ll find in Europe.