If you’ve ever tried to redeem your frequent flyer points for a reward flight, you’ve probably noticed that fuel surcharges can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of your “free” flight. But there are ways to avoid paying fuel surcharges on award tickets. One strategy is to book a flight from a country that bans or restricts fuel surcharges, such as Hong Kong.
Brazil and the Philippines are two countries that have completely outlawed fuel surcharges. This means you’ll only have to pay legitimate government and airport taxes – regardless of the airline you’re flying – when booking an award flight that originates in Brazil or the Philippines.
Similarly, Hong Kong currently regulates fuel surcharges. Airlines are allowed to charge them on flights departing Hong Kong, but Hong Kong’s government limits the amounts that can be imposed. This is great for travellers as it reduces the fuel and carrier surcharges payable on award bookings departing Hong Kong. If you’re flying with Qantas, Emirates or British Airways, for example, this means potential savings into the hundreds of dollars.
The savings are even higher when booking a mutli-sector award that originates in Hong Kong. That’s because the regulated fuel surcharges will apply to all sectors in the booking. So Hong Kong is a popular place to start a round-the-world award booking, for example.
Just priced an award in EK F:HKG-DXB-LCA LCA-MLA LIS-DXB-SIN for HKD1,000 or around AUD170 in co-pay. Ex-Australia it’s well over AUD1,000. Might need to get in quickly.
But this could all but about to change. A recent article in the South China Morning Post revealed that Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department is now in the final stages of a review into fuel surcharges. The likely outcome will be the deregulation of fuel surcharges in Hong Kong.
The implications of fuel surcharge deregulation in Hong Kong are clear. Cathay Pacific – and many other airlines flying out of Hong Kong – will almost certainly increase fuel surcharges. In fact, Cathay Pacific has been lobbying for a return to uncapped fuel surcharges ever since the regulations were introduced in 2016. While revenue airfares may be lowered to compensate for the increased fuel surcharges, passengers redeeming points for award flights will inevitably pay more.
If [Cathay Pacific] adopted the current QF/BA fuel surcharges (as applied via other ports), ALL CX premium long haul award flights through HKG will be hundreds of dollars more expensive.
Time will tell what happens. But if the South China Morning Post’s predictions are correct, you can expect to pay a lot more for award flights departing Hong Kong within months.
The current regulations do not restrict fuel surcharges on flights arriving in Hong Kong.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Hong Kong Fuel Surcharge Regulation to Bite the Dust?