International Surcharge Fee Scam

Old Feb 26, 23, 1:36 pm
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International Surcharge Fee Scam

I've been looking at business class airfares from San Francisco to Warsaw Poland for travel this fall. The prices are going through the roof. Just for fun I compared the exact flights from SFO to Frankfurt and SFO to Warsaw. I then reversed the itinerary from Frankfurt to SFO and from Warsaw to SFO. The dates I selected was departing Sept 13 returning Oct3. Selecting the exact flights there was a big difference. The base prices and taxes were close. The big difference was the so-called international fuel surcharge fee which seems to be a below the line way to hike prices. I saw this with almost all the airlines I checked.

The SFO to Frankfurt cost on United/Lufthansa was $4,481 roundtrip. The exact same flights this time starting from Frankfurt to SFO was $3,792. a $689. difference.
The SFO to Warsaw cost on United/Lufthansa was $5,523 roundtrip. The exact same flights this time starting from Warsaw to SFO was $4,170.00. a $1,353. difference.

Again, this is not a United/Lufthansa specific problem. All the airlines I tested this with are doing the same. Looks like an airline imposed US itinerary originating fee.
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Old Feb 26, 23, 1:51 pm
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All international fares are determined directionally. Theres no scam.
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Old Feb 26, 23, 1:51 pm
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Originally Posted by adventures_await
I've been looking at business class airfares from San Francisco to Warsaw Poland for travel this fall. The prices are going through the roof. Just for fun I compared the exact flights from SFO to Frankfurt and SFO to Warsaw. I then reversed the itinerary from Frankfurt to SFO and from Warsaw to SFO. The dates I selected was departing Sept 13 returning Oct3. Selecting the exact flights there was a big difference. The base prices and taxes were close. The big difference was the so-called international fuel surcharge fee which seems to be a below the line way to hike prices. I saw this with almost all the airlines I checked.

The SFO to Frankfurt cost on United/Lufthansa was $4,481 roundtrip. The exact same flights this time starting from Frankfurt to SFO was $3,792. a $689. difference.
The SFO to Warsaw cost on United/Lufthansa was $5,523 roundtrip. The exact same flights this time starting from Warsaw to SFO was $4,170.00. a $1,353. difference.

Again, this is not a United/Lufthansa specific problem. All the airlines I tested this with are doing the same. Looks like an airline imposed US itinerary originating fee.
It's not at all unusual for ex-EU roundtrips to the U.S. to price lower than ex-U.S. roundtrips to the EU. Different markets, different demand, different prices. I expect that if carrier surcharges were eliminated (or banned) you would see the same disparity fully reflected in the base fares.

Unless you think that it's a "scam" for roundtrips that start in the U.S. to cost more than roundtrips starting in a different country, then this is much ado about nothing. Regardless of the components that make up the final price of the ticket, you either pay the final price, or you don't travel.

People who regularly fly between the U.S. and the E.U. will sometimes buy a one-way ticket (or frequent-flyer award ticket) to the E.U., and then purchase a series of E.U.-originating roundtrips back to the U.S. to save money.
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Old Feb 26, 23, 1:58 pm
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And its included in price quoted, so not sure how its a scam. Worse are hotels which show a room rate and then not reveal taxes, resort fees, etc until you get to reserving. Airfares quotes show airfare, taxes, flight surcharges, airport/security fees.

You want the buy a ticket to Frankfurt or Warsaw? The airlines quote you the prices for origination and destination. The ticket price of an itinerary youre not flying is irrelevant.
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Old Feb 26, 23, 2:32 pm
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YQ is really just a fare component at this point. It's part of the price you have to pay, and (excepting the practices of certain frequent flyer programs) from the passenger's perspective it makes no difference whether it's denominated "fare" or "international surcharge."
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Old Feb 26, 23, 3:29 pm
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Originally Posted by adventures_await
,,,,The big difference was the so-called international fuel surcharge fee ...
Fuel surcharges have not existed for years. There is an international surcharge, which is just a part of the the normal fare. It allows for more dynamic market based pricing. Fare differences of return vs outbound is a competitive / market based pricing technique. You are correct, many airlines do this. This the pricing structure of the industry. Market based pricing is the way the world operates and should not be a surprised. If prices are fully disclosed at purchase, you have the choice to pay or not purchase.
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Old Feb 26, 23, 6:16 pm
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Originally Posted by adventures_await
Again, this is not a United/Lufthansa specific problem. All the airlines I tested this with are doing the same. Looks like an airline imposed US itinerary originating fee.
ok - so why is this in the UA forum? Sounds like maybe a destination forum is more appropriate?

as already noted, fares are point-to-point, and a fare from one place to FRA and the same point to WAW are different markets that have different demand and so charge different fares. Same goes from XXX to FRA roundtrip vs. FRA to XXX roundtrip. Furthermore, it gets more complicated - taxes/charges can be different, and fares can even be different for the same route on a US point-of-sale vs a German one, for example. Not to mention this is not uncommon in other markets either - fares ex-Thailand roundtrip to the US are often much cheaper than ex-US roundtrip to Thailand. Way of the industry. If you travel, kind of just have to deal with it.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 5:53 am
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It's incredibly common. At one point LHR->SEA was twice the price of SEA->LHR. The airlines always used the fuel surcharge as an excuse as if the plans only fuel at one end. I asked my MP in the UK to explain it and he asked the minister for transport. Ultimately it was a case of "Yeah, that's how it is, airlines are allowed to do it".
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Old Feb 27, 23, 6:20 am
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Originally Posted by meiji
It's incredibly common. At one point LHR->SEA was twice the price of SEA->LHR. The airlines always used the fuel surcharge as an excuse as if the plans only fuel at one end. I asked my MP in the UK to explain it and he asked the minister for transport. Ultimately it was a case of "Yeah, that's how it is, airlines are allowed to do it".
It's not a fuel surcharge. Those using that term don't understand what YQ is and how it's presently used by airlines.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 6:46 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee
It's not a fuel surcharge. Those using that term don't understand what YQ is and how it's presently used by airlines.
It started out as a fuel surcharge. Airlines were sued over the fuel surcharges so it was just renamed and they continued with the charge.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 7:02 am
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Originally Posted by sfozrhfco
It started out as a fuel surcharge. Airlines were sued over the fuel surcharges so it was just renamed and they continued with the charge.
The point is that the way YQ is used by carriers has changed completely. It's no longer an add-on, it's now basically a fare component and from the passenger's perspective functionally no different from the component labelled "airfare." (Again, excepting miles redemptions on certain carriers which charge it separately on an award ticket.) If you're familiar with how international fares work, you're familiar with how it's used. As WineCountryUA already explained, it's particularly useful to the airlines because they can change the price of the ticket without filing a completely new fare.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 7:33 am
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You'd be shocked at taxes on a ticket. Unbelievable. Base fare $1600--fuel surcharge $1700 (Business class ticket ATL-BCN) .. .- total ticket by the time you include taxes $3400.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 8:05 am
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Some airlines have very little YQ surcharge, thus the fare is higher, others have very high YQ and other surcharges which is unbelievable. On LH group airlines, for award tickets, the taxes are higher than the lower economy revenie tickets, on top of that you have to burn many thousends of miles. Singapore airlines charges just airport taxes for flights to South east Asia and Australia, which are less than 100 euros, on other hand, other many charge 900 euros!
SFO-FRA is not the same as FRA-SFO, naver has been, the same applies for many countries. MAD-EZE on Iberia is almost 50% cheaper than the other way around. You can always buy SFO-FRA in business and than add FRA-WAW in lower economy for 110eur more or 400 eur in cheapest business. That would be much cheaper than buying SFO-WAW via FRA on the same ticket.
The pricing policity is insane, I will never understand how BCN-ZRH on direct flights with LX costs more than BCN-FRA-IST or BCN-ZRH-GVA (4 flights)... and inter Swiss flights are almost 120 CHF one way,
If you have time, you can check several different options and buy the cheapest one, even if that means buying several tickets on different fares and airlines!
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Old Feb 27, 23, 8:21 am
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Originally Posted by RRROOO
You'd be shocked at taxes on a ticket. Unbelievable. Base fare $1600--fuel surcharge $1700 (Business class ticket ATL-BCN) .. .- total ticket by the time you include taxes $3400.
It's not a "tax", it's part of the overall charge from the airlines. Current each-way surcharges between US-EU among the major big 3 alliance carriers is $160 coach, $350 Premium Economy, and $850 Business (as above) for US point-of-sale. As has been pointed out numerous times, ultimately fare pricing is market based and if the fixed YQ/YR fees were outlawed, airlines would just bump up the base fares to compensate. The fees are included in total pricing shown to public, so it's not like the airlines are somehow trying to hide them until purchase time when displaying pricing.
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Old Feb 27, 23, 9:38 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee
As WineCountryUA already explained, it's particularly useful to the airlines because they can change the price of the ticket without filing a completely new fare.
Originally Posted by xliioper
The fees are included in total pricing shown to public, so it's not like the airlines are somehow trying to hide them until purchase time when displaying pricing.
While the above is certainly true, let's keep in mind that YQ exists for the benefit of the airlines, not the consumer. If you're paying the full ticket price, sure there's no impact to you. But by shrinking the base fare and pushing an amount into YQ it can have tremendous impact to agents whose commissions are based on base fare, consumers that are using some kind of %-off discount which then applies only to the base fare, or for award travel where you may still have to pay a significant amount of money via YQ in addition to your miles/points.

So while perfectly legal and potentially "transparent", I consider it to be a sleazy money-grab tactic.
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