Sometimes booking two flights separately ends up saving you a lot of money out of pocket.
This week I am flying from London to New York via Belgrade on Air Serbia. I used Etihad Guest points (transferred from American Express) to pay for the trip. Etihad passes on government taxes but not fuel surcharges on Air Serbia bookings.
Etihad also charges on a per-segment basis for flight awards, meaning the cost in miles would be the same whether I book both flights under a single reservation or each flight separately.
But the tax ramifications of booking separately versus together were quite substantial. Let’s take a look at London to New York via Belgrade on a single ticket:
First, note that (YQ) represents the bogus fuel surcharge or “carrier-imposed surcharge” that is not passed on by Etihad.
Flying home on a single ticket would have resulted in taxes of $290.06. A large portion of that is known as the “UK APD” or UK departure tax. For premium economy, business, and first class bookings beyond 2,000 miles, it runs £150 ($191.80). Even though the London to Belgrade flight is only 1,060 miles, the APD is calculated based upon your final destination and New York is 3,452 miles away.
How about booking separately? London to Belgrade totals $86.40.
Belgrade to New York? Only $59.60.
Thus, my total was $145.66 instead of $290.06.
This “trick” works particularly well when departing the United Kingdom, but may be advantageous from other cities as well like Frankfurt and Paris.
Next time, try it out if you’re working with a redemption program (like British Airways or Etihad) that charges on a segment basis.