American Eliminates $75 Close-In Award Booking Fee

American AAdvantage has eliminated close-in booking fees, as first noticed by JT Genter. They used to charge a $75 fee for awards booked within 21 days of departure, waived for all AAdvantage elite frequent flyers. They no longer charge this fee effective today, January 15.

For now that’s good news but our experience with other airlines making a similar move suggests that it doesn’t stay that way.

  • When both United and Delta eliminated close-in award booking fees, they began generally charging more miles for those awards.

  • In other words, they didn’t actually eliminate the fee, they just changed the currency in which it’s charged.

  • And this was a devaluation for elites whose benefits included waiving this fee, since they don’t get the mileage upcharge for close-in bookings waived.

For non-elites whether that’s good or bad depends on the amount of the premium, whether members get better or worse value for their points.

American didn’t send out a press release on this, which suggests that they may have released it into the wild technologically a bit earlier than planned. Perhaps there was going to be an announcement? Perhaps it was going to be announced as part of other larger changes?

Nonetheless, for now at least, enjoy booking awards close to departure that did not – at least yet – get more expensive than they were immediately preceding the change.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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’s of my opinion elites should get a discount when they ticket close in awards
    Especially as mileage wards are insanely high priced like never before in history
    Otherwise we are essentially
    getting screwed the cost of redemption most of the time

  2. Good move in isolation. As Gary points out, if it will mean they simply charge more points for awards booked close-in, like the others, it doesn’t accomplish much. The relationship to Avios is that Avios have been useful for booking close-in awards on American to avoid the fee. Avios still have the merit of far better cancellation policies for those times you want to get a seat before they’re gone, but also before you’re 100% sure you’ll be able to make the trip.

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