How to Minimize Cash Taxes on Award Flights

Singapore Air had the travel blogging world in a frenzy recently, with their announcement of a slight devaluation in their award travel chart and elimination of their great 15% online award booking discount. The news we were most happy about though, was the elimination or reduction of fuel surcharges on Singapore Air as well as on partner redemptions such as on United. 

Instead of on cash taxes, we like spending cash on experiences at our destination ideally. If paying the least amount of cash taxes is also a goal for you, read on!

We all want to experience Singapore Suites or Etihad Apartments for free but when we redeem miles for premium cabin flights, we have a laser focus on the cash taxes levied. In the age of travel where roundtrip economy class flights between the US and Europe are $400 though, it sometimes doesn’t make sense paying $400 in taxes just to route through a middle eastern or asian country to get to/from Europe!

Taxes and fuel surcharges that get passed on depend on the airline as well the routing. These fees are minimal for flights originating from the US, not when originating from Europe. American typically charges minimal taxes on its own metal but it has pulled back award availability to an extent that is surprising.

The current ray of hope is United. It has partnerships with a staggering number of airlines, many of them offering lie-flat seats and direct aisle access in business class, that can get you literally anywhere in the world. To boot, availability on most partners is easily pulled on their own search tool unlike that for American. Taxes and fuel surcharges on United partners to Europe range from $35 to $75 in business class. We found a couple on Lufthansa business class for as low as $5-$6 too,which needless to say we jumped on!

This redemption was particularly attractive, given the chance to see Seattle for free with of most of the flight time spent in Lufthansa business class which is a solid product getting into Germany. As of today, these super low tax options seem to be pricing on Lufthansa so take advantage and happy hunting!

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  • Reply HeadshotDeluxe March 14, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Helpful and informative, thanks for sharing.

    • Reply P&N August 26, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks so much headshot deluxe 🙂

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