No New Fuel Surcharges on American AAdvantage Awards!

There are no new fuel surcharges on American AAdvantage awards.

American issued the following statement:

Last night, in a routine effort to better align American to industry standards with other global carriers, American begin collecting carrier-imposed surcharges on tickets for travel on other carrier’s metal. This change was intended for revenue tickets only, but the surcharge was erroneously added to AAdvantage award redemptions on other airlines as well. Except in the cases of British Airways and Iberia (where American currently collects these surcharges), no carrier-imposed surcharges will be applied when redeeming AAdvantage miles for award travel on other carriers. Any customers who encountered this fee in error will be fully refunded.

This morning I posted that American was beginning to collect fuel surcharges on award tickets on more of their airline partners.

I priced out awards on Malaysia Airlines and those included fuel surcharges, where they had not previously.

I had an agent read me a memo saying that as a new policy they were collecting these fees on partner airlines though there might be some exceptions.

And American’s social media team seemed to confirm the change.

However, I did try to hedge a little bit (“If this proves true..”). I reached out to some folks at AAdvantage who didn’t know anything about a change, which seemed odd

And now we have the word — there was an error, there were changes intended for pricing of revenue tickets, and there will not be a major fuel surcharge rollout on award tickets.

The entire frequent flyer universe breathes a collective sigh of relief!

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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. I wonder if this is a honest mistake or an attempt to backtrack.

    What does “American begin collecting carrier-imposed surcharges on tickets for travel on other carrier’s metal” mean? Even for revenue tickets, was American not charging some fees previously?

  2. I was awake when Lucky first posted this and have been up ever since trying to figure out what if anything to book. I was partly convinced the sky wasn’t actually falling yet and that is why I decided to wait and see so this confirmation is welcome relief. Also, my husband was proofreading his 1300 page book and so there was no way he was going to discuss an as not yet planned trip!

  3. I very much welcome this news. I had jumped to put an award on hold on dates I didn’t really prefer. Now I can calmly reconsider if I want that redemption or not. I hope that those who paid right away in anticipation of a horrible emasculation of the program will have the chance to cancel without penalty if they wish.

  4. So what was the actual that AA made? They must have ALREADY been collecting the YQ on partner revenue tickets. Is it just an issue of changing how they allocated the fare they collected, without changing the total fare?

  5. Gary – do you buy this explanation? they hadn’t been collecting YQ on revenue tickets prior to last night? isn’t that an outright lie?

  6. I’m still waiting for any of the bloggers who broke this story to explain how on earth a “glitch” wrote its own memo.

  7. This isn’t something we should expect or stomach at any point. I will fly the airline that doesn’t charge YQ, and have nothing to do with those that do. I predict they will raise their award chart to compensate. It’s a case of buyer beware with AA at the moment.

  8. @Gary I still can’t get it. So did the agent you talked to just make up the memo??? It clearly states that “imposing fuel surcharges for award tickets on all carriers”. I sense there is something more than a system error behind this.

  9. @Itchy Cat indeed it seems weird to say ‘the memo was really just talking about revenue tickets’ since it isn’t obvious to me what partners American wasn’t previously charging YQ on for revenue tickets when those carriers impose those charges themselves. Odd indeed. And yet the folks at AAdvantage I reached out to first thing in the a.m. seemed to genuinely not know anything about a change to award tickets, so I don’t think it’s just a coverup either.

  10. @Dax – the CLAIM is that the memo applied to revenue tickets and not award tickets, and I have asked more than one person at American what new charges apply to revenue tickets that did not apply before last night? I will update with any answer I receive.

  11. Gary the answer to the last question in #16 is important and I hope you write a short blog post on the answer, as a bad answer could mean that surcharges are coming at some point.

  12. @Gary – Thanks. I think that after yet another sudden reversal AA needs to be on the record with a more plausible explanation and a promise that surcharge awards are not in the works for the future and that YQ awards from other carriers will NOT be matched by AA. That may be a lot to ask but after a series of stunts followed by confusing explanations it’s time for AA to go on the record with more than just another “whoops, our bad” reply.

  13. On the one hand I don’t buy that it was a “mistake” and I do think this is something they will do at some point. Yet, would they really backtrack in a matter of just a few hours, due to some blog, twitter and FT complaints? And if so, were they that tone deaf to not have anticipated the reaction and been prepared to push through it anyway?

    It could be a trial balloon just to see how bad the complaining would be – however I would’ve waited a bit longer if so, to gauge reaction beyond the hard core enthusiast community that notices these things right away.

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