Fuel surcharges on award tickets has been a common complaint this past year. Air France/KLM Flying Blue is the program about which I have heard most of the complaints. The taxes and fuel surcharges add up to make many award tickets nearly as pricey as paid tickets (which generally have the added value of earning miles).
Here is my Aeroplan story. I have been writing about this Easter travel season and the incredibly low fares to Europe. This past weekend I actually found a fare of Monterey-Frankfurt for $499 on United Airlines.
I have Air Canada miles I have been also trying to spend for an award ticket. I found availability from SFO-FRA using my Aeroplan miles. I went through the screens and finally the ticket charges appear.
$375 and 60,000 miles in taxes and fees for an economy award ticket to Europe on Aeroplan. My frequent flier miles are worth about $2/1,000 miles with this award. This is less than 10% of the value for a frequent flier mileage award I typically redeem. (I did not buy it.)
Last year, an award ticket from San Francisco to Prague in business class cost $115 and that has been the norm for every award ticket I have ever redeemed. And I have redeemed dozens of awards. The most I ever paid was $241 to British Airways and that was for a 31,000-mile itinerary from the US to Europe to Asia to Australia and back with 6 First Class flights, 2 stopovers, and an open-jaw.
Two years ago my First Class awards to New Zealand cost under $19 each.
The fuel surcharge on award tickets completely undermines the value of miles. Forget economy class awards. With award fees this high, the traveler needs to blow the miles for a seat in the front cabin of the plane.