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I love Avios. Avios have incredible uses like 4,500 Avios domestic trips within the US on American Airlines flights. Or how about combining an Avios award with an AA award to construct free stopovers outside the US on AA awards or to get almost free oneways to Hawaii.

But, I hate the surcharges that Avios awards entail. Surcharges of hundreds of dollars–in some cases more than $1,000–make Avios worthless to me for transatlantic and transpacific awards.

Luckily they don’t charge surcharges on domestic awards on American Airlines. I also thought that they didn’t charge surcharges on intra-South American awards, but I was wrong!

To wit, I recently booked an award on LAN Airlines from Quito to Lima to Cuzco for my parents. The Avios award included taxes and fees of $166.16 per ticket. The AA award only had, for the exact same flights, total taxes and fees of only $92.52 (including the $25 phone fee.) That means there was about a $100 surcharge on the intra-South American Avios award!

But on a separate Cuzco to Lima award, the Avios taxes and fees were only $4.25 per ticket, which is the Peruvian government’s tax on that segment.

I’m not sure what to make of this. I don’t know what triggers the Avios surcharge on some intra-South American flights but not others. Maybe it is the crossing of borders, since the first award goes from Ecuador to Peru and the second is wholly within Peru. But I cannot definitively say that is what triggers the surcharge.

This is a disappointing finding that lowers the value of Avios, but there are still a ton of great uses for Avios, the great misunderstood loyalty currency.

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