A week and a half or so ago Northwest announced fees for award redemption. They call them fuel surcharges, but fuel surcharges are really part of the cost of a ticket. And with awards they aren’t even tied to the fuel surcharge imposed on paid ticket, they’re made up fees imposed based on the region of travel for your award.
$25 for flights within North America, $50 transatlantic, $100 transpacific, $75 intra-Asia (unless travel originates in Hong Kong, in which case it’s $44), and $50 on all other itineraries.
The $44 fee for award travel beginning in Hong Kong struck me as strange. My hunch was correct, it is a bit of an anomaly. Turns out that there’s a law in Hong Kong which prevents them from imposing fuel surcharges on award tickets that are higher than that imposed on revenue tickets.
Kinda shows that the emporer has no clothes, if they’re adding higher fuel surcharges on awards than revenue tickets in other markets, doesn’t it? Nobody should call it a fuel surcharge. It’s an award redemption fee. It’s a cash co-pay. Mileage tickets are no longer free tickets on several US carriers, they now offer only ‘miles and money’.
The holdout carriers — such as United, Continental, and Alaska (I’ll even throw American in there, since their minimum fee is just $5) — should be applauded.