Fuel Surcharge to Increase Again from December… What Airlines Have No Surcharge? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Fuel Surcharge to Increase Again from December… What Airlines Have No Surcharge?

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Weak Yen, Ukraine Situation…Airline Tickets Remain High

Many people, especially recently, are concerned about fuel surcharges when buying international airline tickets. The official name for the fuel surcharge is the fuel surcharge, which is added in addition to the normal fare. The amount of the fuel surcharge increases or decreases depending on the base price of crude oil.

ANA and JAL will increase fuel surcharges for tickets issued in December 2011, with ANA’s most recent increase from 21,000 yen to 29,000 yen to 41,000 yen.

That fuel surcharge has continued to rise after Corona.’ After peaking in the fall of 2010, the surcharge temporarily dropped, but it will rise again starting with tickets issued this December, and it will weigh heavily on travel costs.

However, not all airlines impose fuel surcharges. Some include fuel surcharges in the fare from the beginning, while others do not require them. Some airlines charge fuel surcharges separately for award tickets, and some do not.

Fuel surcharges are higher than fares! Disadvantageous reasons for Japan residents other than war conditions

In the case of ANA, fuel surcharges were waived for about a year from April 2008, but have since increased. For tickets issued from October to November 2010, it reached 6,700 (Korea) to 5,800 yen (Europe, US, and Australia). It then dropped a little, and for tickets issued in October-November ’23, it was 3000-29,000 yen, and for December to January ’24, it increased again to 5000-41,000 yen.

ANA’s fuel surcharge for purchases from December 1, ’23 to January 31, ’24. This is close to last year’s record high (image from ANA’s official website).

All of these are per one-way trip, so a round-trip trip would be twice as much. Even if the round-trip fare is about 100,000 yen, the fuel surcharge alone adds about 100,000 yen to the round-trip fare, which brings the total amount paid for the ticket up to 200,000 yen.

The recent rise in oil prices is not unrelated to the situation in Russia and Ukraine, as well as the recent ongoing tensions in the Middle East. For residents in Japan, there is also the impact of the weak yen.

Are airlines that “do not charge” fuel surcharges really a good deal?

Some airlines do not charge fuel surcharges. Among full-service carriers (FSCs), these includeSingapore Airlines,QatarAirways, and Qantas Airways. Their fuel surcharges are included in the fare in advance.

Singapore Airlines has a simple fare structure that includes the fuel surcharge in the fare. However, airfare is usually higher than other airlines.

In the case of Singapore Airlines, the lowest fare from Tokyo to Singapore in January 2012 was 79590 yen round-trip, and 254230 yen round-trip during the year-end and New Year holidays. Fuel surcharges and taxes are included. On the other hand, a search on ANA’s official website shows a round-trip price of approximately 300,000 yen. The fuel surcharge is 31,000 yen round trip. On ANA’s official website, the lowest price available is 100,000 yen round-trip (including fuel surcharge).

When the author flew between Japan and Europe in June 2011, he purchased a connecting flight on Qatar Airways for a total of 180,000 yen. At that time, connecting flights to Europe cost 250,000-300,000 yen, while direct flights cost about 400,000 yen. The reason why the fare was less expensive than other airlines was probably because it included fuel. At that time, business people who flew between Japan and Europe often heard that “Qatar Airways was the airline of choice.

Qatar Airways is a major airline in the Middle East. Qatar Airways, a major Middle Eastern airline, is internationally acclaimed for its new aircraft, service, seats, and other features. Qatar Airways is scheduled to resume flights to Osaka next spring, following its flights to Haneda and Narita in Japan.

So, it is difficult to say whether fuel-inclusive fares are a good deal. Whether it is expensive or inexpensive should be judged by the total amount paid. Many people in the travel industry and frequent flyers say that “Singapore Airlines is expensive to begin with (even with fuel included). However, there are still times when it is possible to get a discount fare on sale.

Why you should use a cost-effective “MCC” rather than an expensive FSC

If FSCs are too expensive for you, we recommend “middle-cost carriers (MCCs),” also known as mid-size carriers or hybrid airlines. They are less expensive and surprisingly comfortable.

ZIPAIR, which is expanding its route network in North America and elsewhere, is positioned as an LCC, but its services far exceed those of LCCs. There are many repeat customers.

All ZIPAIR seats have a power outlet and in-flight Wi-Fi is free of charge. There are also full-flat seats in the upper cabin, and all aircraft are the latest mid-sized Boeing 787s. The delicious in-flight meals and the peace of mind that comes with being a JAL affiliate have made many repeat customers happy with the cost-effectiveness of the airline. There is no fuel surcharge.

Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ low-cost carrier (LCC), is another MCC-like airline. Its Japan routes are mainly served by Boeing 787s with a spacious cabin, a quiet area in the front of economy, and more advanced seats. The free carry-on baggage allowance of up to 10 kg is also a plus.

Scoot is an LCC based in Singapore. Its fare structure and service are easy for Japanese to understand, and its level of service is generally higher than that of other LCCs.

Air Premier is a South Korean MCC that began operations in 2009. The aircraft is a Boeing 787, and in addition to economy class, there is premium economy, and the seat pitch is 35 inches, which is wider than the 34 inches of major FSCs. On flights of four hours or more, two meals are served on board.

LCCs have stricter baggage rules and narrower seat pitch. In addition, many of them use small aircraft such as A320s, and the cramped feeling in the cabin is not half as bad as it is in LCCs. MCCs are in the middle of the two, with cheaper fares and frequent sales, and we hope to make good use of them.

Award tickets are not free! Two Japanese carriers charge fuel separately.

Award tickets using miles allow you to fly practically “for free”. However, many airline frequent flyer programs, including ANA and JAL, require a separate fuel surcharge for award tickets. Even if the fare is zero, the “free travel” becomes less affordable when you consider that the fuel surcharge adds 100,000 yen to the total.

Frequent flyer programs offered by major U.S. airlines are popular for the fact that miles do not expire. Not a few people living in Japan dare to accumulate miles with U.S. airlines.

U.S. airlines are well known for their “no fuel” policy when issuing award tickets. United Airlines “MileagePlus,” American Airlines “Advantage,” Delta Air Lines “SkyMiles,” and Alaska Airlines “Mileage Plan” are examples. Moreover, for example, if you issue an ANA international award ticket on United Airlines, the fuel surcharge is waived on ANA-operated flights. However, sudden rule changes are common, so please be careful.

On the other hand, it is difficult for Japanese residents to accumulate miles from foreign airlines until they can obtain award tickets. It is necessary to make some adjustments, such as converting points earned at foreign hotel chains into miles.

Award tickets can be booked up to one year in advance. In the unlikely event of a change of plans, award tickets have low cancellation fees: 3,100 yen for JAL and 3,000 miles for ANA. Due to its ease of use and the small number of award reservations available, it is difficult to book these days. If your miles are still valid, it would be wise to take a wait-and-see approach when fuel surcharges are so high.

Whether “Dynamic Packages” sold with fuel surcharges included are a good deal or not

Dynamic packages, which combine airline tickets and hotels, are actually sold at a price that includes fuel surcharges. Moreover, even if the fuel surcharge increases after payment is made, the travel agency that sells the package will not collect any additional fees.

Conversely, if the fuel surcharge goes down, you will lose money. As with airline ticketing, timing of purchase is important.

Fluctuations in fuel surcharges can be predicted in advance, and tickets can be issued when the timing is right.

The main reference for aviation fuel surcharges is the price of Singapore kerosene. In addition, the fuel surcharge is also related to the exchange rate and the yen, so the weaker the yen, the higher the fuel surcharge will be.

If you keep a close eye on the Singapore kerosene price, you can predict in advance whether the fuel surcharge is likely to rise or fall. The same applies when the price drops. Therefore, one of the techniques is to issue tickets at the time when the fuel surcharge is about to go down and then up again.

On the other hand, some countries prohibit the addition of fuel surcharges to airline tickets or set a certain amount. Countries close to Japan include Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. Of course, one-way travel costs to the destination, time, etc. will naturally be required.

In addition to the weak yen, the high cost of airline tickets, including the cost of fuel oil, has also put a damper on post-Corona overseas travel, and conditions in general remain difficult. In view of the current global situation, it is unlikely that fuel surcharges will drop significantly anytime soon. In order to lighten the burden of travel expenses as much as possible, it would not hurt to know when to issue tickets and which airlines do not require fuel surcharges.

  • Interview, text, and photographs Aki Shikama / Aki Shikama

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