Taxes/fees on miles booking

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Old May 17, 18, 4:17 am
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Taxes/fees on miles booking

Made a pure miles booking by phone this morning - MIA/LHR LHR/JFK out first return club. Wasn't paying attention when the charge for taxes/fees was quoted and have just seen from the confirmation they have debited me £954.41 (one person).

This seems way too high - it's usually around the £500 pp mark so I phoned to query (GGL line). After referring to ticketing they have told me it's because this flight originates in the US (my previous bookings do originate in the UK) and an additional 'security charge' is levied by the US authorities - the BA rep was vague in detail. I appreciate there might be some difference but this much? Can anybody confirm whether this sounds correct?
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Old May 17, 18, 4:21 am
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Originally Posted by RetiredEarly View Post
Made a pure miles booking by phone this morning - MIA/LHR LHR/JFK out first return club. Wasn't paying attention when the charge for taxes/fees was quoted and have just seen from the confirmation they have debited me £954.41 (one person).

This seems way too high - it's usually around the £500 pp mark so I phoned to query (GGL line). After referring to ticketing they have told me it's because this flight originates in the US (my previous bookings do originate in the UK) and an additional 'security charge' is levied by the US authorities - the BA rep was vague in detail. I appreciate there might be some difference but this much? Can anybody confirm whether this sounds correct?
The explanation is plausible, and at first glance the number does look about right.

And that's confirmed by ITA:-

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Old May 17, 18, 4:29 am
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exUS carrier surcharge is significantly higher than elsewhere, so the total taxes/fees/charges payable on a reward ticket exUS would be much higher.

I have checked for a MIA-LHR-JFK in J booking (going out F shouldn't make any difference in TFC from J) and TFC should be:

Customs User Fee - USA USD 5.65
Transportation Tax(Departure) - USA USD 18.30
Transportation Tax(Arrival) - USA USD 18.30
Animal & Plant Health User Fee (Aphis) - USA USD 3.96
Immigration User Fee - USA USD 7.00
Passenger Civil Aviation Security Service Fee - USA USD 5.60
Air Passenger Duty - United Kingdom USD 211.03
Passenger Service Charge - United Kingdom USD 60.75
Passenger Facility Charge USD 4.50

Carrier imposed charge USD 956.00

Total taxes, fees, carrier imposed charges or fuel surcharge, USD 1,291.09
and this seems to match up with what you have been charged.
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Old May 17, 18, 4:35 am
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Many thanks for the prompt response - I was just taken aback by the difference!
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Old May 17, 18, 4:45 am
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Seems a bit cheeky of the agent to suggest the US security levy of £4.10 is responsible for the difference!
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Old May 17, 18, 6:00 am
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Originally Posted by windowontheAside View Post
Seems a bit cheeky of the agent to suggest the US security levy of £4.10 is responsible for the difference!
I’ll give the agent the benefit of the doubt and assume what they actually said was “a levy to ensure the security of our highly profitable US business”
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Old May 17, 18, 7:57 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
Originally Posted by windowontheAside View Post
Seems a bit cheeky of the agent to suggest the US security levy of £4.10 is responsible for the difference!
I’ll give the agent the benefit of the doubt and assume what they actually said was “a levy to ensure the security of our highly profitable US business”
The agent was certainly right insofar as it was because the flight originates in the US and there are therefore extra charges to pay. If anyone thinks that the agent ought then immediately to have been able to identify which charge is represented by each of the codes AY, YQ, XY, YC, or XA, that would probably be to see things through a BAEC FTer's eyes, which are attuned to recognising "YQ" and glazing over at pretty much any other pair of code letters.
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Old May 18, 18, 2:02 am
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
The agent was certainly right insofar as it was because the flight originates in the US and there are therefore extra charges to pay. If anyone thinks that the agent ought then immediately to have been able to identify which charge is represented by each of the codes AY, YQ, XY, YC, or XA, that would probably be to see things through a BAEC FTer's eyes, which are attuned to recognising "YQ" and glazing over at pretty much any other pair of code letters.
Now there you are giving the agent far too much grace. Any BA reservation agent should know what YQ is - if they don't it is a real training failure.

Anyway the key point is it is completely wrong for an agent to suggest (as OP thinks they did) that the higher charges exUS were in any way imposed by 'authorities' or other third parties. These are BA charges, BA agents should know that, and they shouldn't misleadingly attribute them to someone else.
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Old May 18, 18, 2:58 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
Any BA reservation agent should know what YQ is - if they don't it is a real training failure.
And it's also a real training failure if the agent should immediately know what XA is, and XY? (Or G4 or PZ, for that matter?) I'm happy to cut the agent a bit of slack: we know instantly what YQ is because it's special to us. I'd bet that practically none of us know off the tops of our heads what XA or XY are because they're not special to us. If all that the agent sees is a stack of letters that they normally don't need to know much about and the vast majority of passengers neither need nor want to know, I don't think it's unreasonable if the agents get confused or forget. But then I know that I spend too much of my life trying to look at things from the other person's perspective.
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Old May 18, 18, 3:48 am
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Originally Posted by Globaliser View Post
And it's also a real training failure if the agent should immediately know what XA is, and XY? (Or G4 or PZ, for that matter?)
No. They should immediately know what YQ is. And in fact I bet they do. They needn't immediately know what the others are.

I'm happy to cut the agent a bit of slack: we know instantly what YQ is because it's special to us. I'd bet that practically none of us know off the tops of our heads what XA or XY are because they're not special to us. If all that the agent sees is a stack of letters that they normally don't need to know much about and the vast majority of passengers neither need nor want to know, I don't think it's unreasonable if the agents get confused or forget.
I think you are understating how 'special' YQ is, not just to us but to anyone booking a reward seat. In the example given by OP, it's $956 on a ticket which many customers are expecting to be basically 'free'. If a reservation agent doesn't know what that $956 actually is, there's something wrong.

But then I know that I spend too much of my life trying to look at things from the other person's perspective.
I spend much of my life doing this too, and have indeed spent time sitting with agents on reservation calls (not on BA but with other airlines) literally seeing things from their perspective. What I can say is that agents see and hear a lot, and when questions regularly come up from customers about specific things - the enormous 'taxes' on award tickets will undoubtedly be one of those - the managers are aware of this, discuss it and feed back to their agents. I don't think it's inadvertent that the agent's reply to OP was 'vague'.

Last edited by Ldnn1; May 18, 18 at 4:01 am
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Old May 18, 18, 5:32 am
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Lesson learned here. Always book US-UK Avios trips as either one-way tickets or tickets originating in Europe (cheapest) or UK (possibly subject to APD).
If there is still availability on your LHR-JFK sector then cancel it out of your existing ticket for a refund of the higher charges and rebook with origin UK at a lower cost.
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Old May 18, 18, 5:43 am
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Originally Posted by Tafflyer View Post
Lesson learned here. Always book US-UK Avios trips as either one-way tickets or tickets originating in Europe (cheapest) or UK (possibly subject to APD).
If there is still availability on your LHR-JFK sector then cancel it out of your existing ticket for a refund of the higher charges and rebook with origin UK at a lower cost.

that's an interesting idea. TFC for J/F bookings exJFK would be:

JFK-LHR rtn - $1,290.48

JFK-LHR one way - $506.40

LHR-JFK one way - £371.31 ($501.06)

So booking as two singles saves just under $300.

Last edited by KARFA; May 18, 18 at 6:29 am Reason: last quote should have said LHR-JFK not JFK-LHR
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Old May 18, 18, 6:20 am
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And just for any lurkers who end up in this thread in the future (since the OP wanted First), Iberia doesn't have this pattern of fee loading on their redemptions, so always worth checking their services too.
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Old May 18, 18, 6:27 am
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£700 YQ - what a joke.
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