Always Check Fees Before Booking an American AAdvantage Award on British Airways

American AAdvantage adds fuel surcharges to awards on British Airways and Iberia. They’re fairly de minimis for Iberia flights, but for British Airways it makes awards too costly to often be worth it. For coach tickets it’s silly, you pay almost as much as a ticket costs. For premium cabin tickets it’s like paying for a coach ticket and using miles to upgrade, but earning neither miles nor status despite the huge cash co-pay.

That’s bad enough, but on many routes American actually overcharges for these surcharges. And they only fix it and refund customers when caught with their hand in the cookie jar. For instance,

You always need to check whether two one ways are cheaper than a roundtrip because fuel surcharges may be filed differently for one way fares. But that’s following the rules.

What’s squirrely is when American charges more in surcharges than British Airways does for the same flights, more than British Airwways files as surcharges on the fare for the route.

Although American tells me “[w]e have processes in place to help ensure we avoid these errors entirely” and that “[w]e’ve undergone a comprehensive review of the filings internally and with our airline partners” here’s another route where American is overcharging AAdvantage members. (HT: Eliezer K)

American charges fuel surcharges of $199.60 on a British Airways business class award from Tel Aviv to San Jose.

That’s $40 more than the British Airways filed fuel surcharge that should apply:

And indeed taxes and fees on the same British Airways award booked with British Airways Avios costs $40 less than American is charging as a result.

Let’s see if we can’t get this member — and anyone else that has booked Tel Aviv – San Jose with AAdvantage miles — a refund.

And always check the proper cost of a British Airways award booked with AAdvantage miles so you know if American is overcharging you.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It looks like Alaska prices properly in your example as well (though they stick on a $12.50 partner redemption fee each way).

  2. I’m just surprised the YQ was so low for a business long haul on BA metal with either carrier. Seems like every time I try to book such a flight it’s like $1,000 +. It got so bad for me that I just gave up. If BA metal TATL comes up on an AA award search it’s like the third rail. Much like Alaska award searches that have the little seat icon showing a mixed class award (always domestic first to economy over the water).

  3. @ Gary – Quick question regarding the fees AA charges. A while back you had written an article about getting the UK departure fee refunded if the connection time was less than 24 hours and the ticket was on separate reservations. How were you able to get them to do that? I kept pressing the customer service folks on it and they kept repeating the same line that they are required to collect it, etc. etc. Any suggestions on how to get them to realize they don’t need to charge it?

  4. @ greg – whether it’s $200 or $2,000, no fuel surcharge or YQ is ever reasonable. It’s a scam.

  5. this is why AA should have joined Star Alliance vs One World. Have to avoid BA on all flights or pay $$$

  6. Hi, I was charged $350.60 ($175.30 each) for carrier-imposed fees and $254.62 taxes totaling $605.22 on my wife and my award business ticket booked with American Airlines on their site using a British Airways flight on 10/12/2018. The flight went from Zagreb-London-Atlanta-DFW-Reno. Was I overcharged? I have the reservation receipt still. Thank you.

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