It’s always a good idea to understand and verify the taxes and surcharges that a frequent flyer program is trying to charge you when redeeming your miles. I’ve caught several overcharges from American Airlines over the years, for instance. They add fuel surcharges when you redeem miles for British Airways travel (and much lower cash co-pays on Iberia).
Two years ago American was collecting surcharges on British Airways flights departing Hong Kong even though those weren’t allowed at the time by the Hong Kong government. American issued refunds once I asked about this.
AAdvantage awards on British Airways were also coming with surcharges significantly higher than they should have been on the Seattle – London route. We got that one fixed, too.
However recently British Airways filed a lower $65 carrier-imposed surcharge with coach fares on the Seattle – London Heathrow route, but American continued to charge its members a higher price to redeem their miles.
Alaska Airlines was properly collecting this $65 surcharge on mileage redemptions.
American, however, was charging $225 in carrier-imposed fees.
I asked American Airlines about this.They acknowledged the error and committed to refund redemptions that were overcharged.
Thanks for asking about the carrier imposed fees and for giving us the time to look into it. The answer is, quite simply, that wasn’t our intent and we apologize.
Our teams are working to correct the amounts now, and of course we’re also working to update our processes to prevent future recurrences. In addition, we are reviewing our data to identify any customers who may have purchased a ticket at the incorrect amount, and we’ll be proactively reaching out to them with a refund of the difference.
Given that we’re still running through the data and we want to keep the team focused on addressing this quickly, we’d ask your readers to wait for us to contact them about any potential refunds, and it may be a few weeks before we’re able to begin the processing.
The point though is that it’s worth understanding what you’re being charged, and making sure it’s correct. Should your frequent flyer program be collecting these fees at all? And if so, should they match what’s charged on a paid ticket? Do they in fact match?
United doesn’t add fuel surcharges to any awards. American adds them to British Airways, and to a lesser extent Iberia, awards. Delta adds them to itineraries originating in Europe and to awards on certain partner airlines.
Most airlines that do add surcharges will impose the amount filed with the fare for an equivalent paid itinerary. Some, like Etihad, may charged fixed amounts. Or in the case of Qantas they’ll even add surcharges to awards where paid tickets don’t have any.