American Airlines Overcharged Fuel Surcharges on Some British Airways Awards, Will Provide Refunds

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.

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. How do I determine if I am over charged on an existing booking?

    Thanks for info….

  2. Yes we deeply apologize for ripping everyone off we can by complete accident
    (until we got caught)That’s not something we would ever intentionally try to do
    We never overcharge any of customers typically and pride ourselves on
    bringing the highest quality and value in everything we do right down to our friendly award winning customer service and outstanding saver award availability worldwide
    If American Airlines was Pinocchio they wouldn’t be just the worlds largest airline they would have the longest nose globally

  3. Good timing for this! Yesterday I redeemed some of my last American Airlines miles (can’t get rid of them fast enough!) for a one way flight home to the US from Europe, operating through British Airways and connecting in London (CDG-LHR-SJC). I was charged $181.60 in fuel surcharges. Does this sound out of line? If so, who should I contact at AA? Thanks for your tips!

  4. It’s tough as a customer to argue against this. Award agents have too much power and they would tell you it’s what they see, don’t use ITA matrix, blah blah and there’s nothing you can do about it.
    It often takes weeks to search for awards to get to this point with OneWorld, you’re not gonna fight fot $50 now…

  5. NIce job of catching that Gary. If it weren’t for Gary or some other alert watchdog, they would, without a doubt, go on overcharging indefinitely. Of course if those scam charges could be eliminated altogether we wouldn’t have to watch out for those specific shenanigans.

  6. In August of 2017 I used AA miles to fly BA in First Class for two people from Phoenix to Rome and from Venice back to Phoenix. I paid $1,582 in surcharges for that awards flight. Is there any way to validate if I was overcharged?

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