As most of you already know, Aeroplan levies a fuel surcharge on award tickets, also known as “Carrier Surcharge” on the cost breakdown page, “Taxes” according to the call center agents, or “YQ” within the frequent flyers world. Whatever it is, the way it’s being charged is not consistent across all Star Alliance partner airlines. What I mean is that if you fly your entire trip with airlines such as United, this “Carrier Surcharge” will not show up on your ticket, therefore significantly reducing your out-of-pocket costs.
The purpose of this page is to give you a list of all 17 airlines under Star Alliance, that do not levy carrier surcharge (YQ), out of the total 27.
Aegean Airlines (A3) – Serving mostly domestic flights and some intra-Europe routes.
Air China (CA) – The largest carrier within China, with its major hub located at PEK. One of the only three carriers that offers a YQ-free First Class product. Usually plenty of availability on the Asia-Europe routing as well as decent availability on Asia-North America routing.
Air India (AI) – newly joined Star Alliance mid 2014, this opened up lots of choices for travels tot he middle east and India.
Air New Zealand (NZ) – Almost impossible to get a TPAC flight, though there are lots of Asia-AKL flights available, such as PVG-AKL. Solid product.
Avianca (AV) – This is the largest airline in Colombia and second-largest in Latin America. Great choice for travels in Latin and South America.
Brussels Airlines (SN) – They don’t have a huge fleet, but good alternative to Lufthansa for intra-Europe flights.
Copa Airlines (CM) -Serving between Central and South America with its hub in Panama.
Croatia Airlines (OU) – The flag carrier of Croatia, with its hub in Zagreb.
Egypt Air (MS) – Star Alliance somewhat lacks dominance in the middle East, and Egypt Air adds a nice hub in Cairo, which could be used as a connection point between Europe and Asia. The product is rather subpar, and I would only choose it when no other choices are available.
Ethiopian Airlines (ET) – Major hub in Addis Ababa, the only highlight I can think of is that they actually have a fleet of the 787 dreamliner.
EVA Air (BR) – One of my favourite scam charge free airlines, recent joined in mid-2013. They offer excellent long-haul products originating from Taipei, one of the best hard products with reverse herringbone design business seats. Premium champagne such as Dom is also offered on the Royal Laurel class.
Singapore Airlines (SQ) – The only Skytrax 5 star airline in this list, excellent in both hard and soft products. This is my top choice in traveling within Asia. The only downside is that they do not offer long-haul premium cabin to Star Alliance partners.
Shenzhen Airlines (ZH) – Another newly joined member, their fleet has only A320 and B737 narrow body aircraft. Business class is nothing to get excited about on these planes. They offer average value for economy redemption for domestic flights within China. I would just pay cash and forget about this one.
South African Airways (SA) – Not a bad choice for visiting Johannesburg from Europe or Asia.
Swiss International Airlines (LX) – Swiss and Turkish should be your top choice for travels to Europe. Excellent in both the economy and business product, major in Zurich. Swiss has flights to Montreal, Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Turkish Airlines (TK) – Major hub in Istanbul, it also hosts one of the best business lounges in the same airport. All of the 777 and A330 have been retrofitted with lie-flat beds in business class. Also worth mentioning is quality of food, they have skychef onboard to make your meals!
United Airlines (UA) – I’m sure everyone is familiar with them. Rather crappy economy product, and no in-flight entertainment on most of the long-haul 777 and 747 fleets. Business class is rather acceptable and I would consider picking United over another airline if it saves me $300-400 in fuel surcharge.
Something worth mentioning is LOT Polish airlines. They have a relatively new fleet of the 787s, and although they do have fuel surcharge, it is only less than $100 one way. You do have to transit through Warsaw though.