Fuel surcharges on flights departing Hong Kong are set to increase dramatically after the Hong Kong government elected to end the current ban. Following months of speculation the Hong Kong fuel surcharge ban will finally be removed from 1 November 2018, allowing airlines once again to set their own charges.
Booking award flights originating in Hong Kong has been a popular way to avoid paying excessive airline charges on award tickets. The government regulations meant that fuel surcharges were banned and other charges restricted. This had the effect of keeping co-payments on award flight bookings to a reasonable level. The regulations applied to any booking originating in Hong Kong. So many frequent flyers would take advantage of this by booking long-haul flights (and even round-the-world trips) departing from Hong Kong.
Under Hong Kong’s new laws, airlines will be able to set their own fuel and other surcharges. But they must display the total price upfront, and provide a complete breakdown of the final amount. If any surcharges are being imposed, this must be made clear to consumers.
We expect that this will result in a large increase in fuel surcharges charged by airlines flying out of Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic – among others – are all likely to increase their charges from 1 November.
As an example, Qantas carrier charges on a one-way award flight from Hong Kong to Sydney are currently $33 in any class of travel. But on a flight from Singapore to Sydney, Qantas adds on up to $240 in carrier charges for a Business or First Class award – and that’s before genuine government and airport taxes! We’ll be keeping a close eye on Qantas’ Hong Kong fuel surcharges once the laws are changed.
British Airways fuel surcharges out of Hong Kong are also much lower now when departing Hong Kong, compared to other Asian cities. On a British Airways Business award from Hong Kong to London, you’d currently pay $61 in taxes and charges – compared to an eye-watering $367 when flying from Singapore to London.
Once the Hong Kong fuel surcharge restrictions end, this will leave the Philippines and Brazil as the only countries to ban airline surcharges. That said, there have also been recent discussions about fuel surcharges being allowed once again in the Philippines. In the meantime, you’ll still be able to avoid paying excessive surcharges on award tickets departing from Manila or São Paulo… although Qantas has been caught flouting the Brazilian laws and continues to levy these charges on some award bookings ex Brazil.
If you’ve been planning to redeem frequent flyer points for a trip originating in Hong Kong, make sure you do so before the end of October!
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: HKG fuel surcharges are back (Bye bye cheap redemptions)