You did it! You now have enough points/miles to go wherever your heart desires! Luckily for you, there is plenty of award space since you are able to travel during the shoulder season. Then you begin to compare your redemption options. As you price them out, it dawns on you that although you have the required number of points/miles to make this trip a reality, you also have to pay atrocious fees in addition to the normal taxes. Depending on the carrier they may call them “fuel surcharges,” others call them “carrier imposed fees or charges” Regardless of the name, these fees make your so called “free travel” quite expensive! So much so, that it might make sense to just snag a cheap flight unless you only want to travel in business or first class.
In my experience, British Airways, FlyingBlue, Delta (flights departing from outside of the US) Korean Air, Singapore Air and Virgin Atlantic all add surcharges to your “free flight” redemption. Check with the frequent flyer program you plan to use. As far as I know, United is the only major airline that does not add carrier imposed fees to any award redemption.
Thus remember when you use AwardHacker or a similar tool, you are only seeing the number of miles needed, the surcharges are extra.
The point of this post is that we need to factor in the cost of these extra charges when comparing the true cost of any award redemption.