Back in February, AAdvantage announced they’d be increasing their phone ticketing fees by $5, while simultaneously waiving the Reservations Ticketing Service Charge for awards that couldn’t be booked online.
This is a great policy, and one that should be industry-standard, in my opinion. If you can’t corral your partners or IT department enough to make the website functional for your passengers, you shouldn’t be further charging them for the inconvenience.
But policies are only as good as the tools enforcing them. And in this case, the computer hasn’t been reprogrammed to automatically waive the phone booking fee.
So you have to ask. Every. Time.
Waiving the American phone booking fee
While I’ve heard of agents waiving the fee automatically, I’ve only experienced that a handful of times. And I realize our sample size is skewed, but we’ve easily avoided over $30,000 in phone reservations fees since February just by asking.
Fortunately it’s an easy question.
“Hmmm…I thought that fee was waived for awards that can’t be booked online?”
There are a few possible responses to this question, provided you’ve queried in a kind and polite fashion (if you want to be a jackwagon to folks making $12 an hour I can’t help you):
“Oh no. We don’t waive that fee!”
If the agent says this to you like you’ve just proposed something incredibly indecent, you’re probably best off just Hanging Up And Calling Again.
“Well, only for Executive Platinums”
“I don’t think so.”
With either of these agents, you can follow up with a gentle “Really? I could have sworn I read that on aa.com?” 100% of the time they will come back with the right answer.
Of course, if you’re extra lucky, you’ll get one of my treasured US Airways agents:
“All of our AAdvantage partners are bookable online!”
“Well, you have to select the codeshare, and then it’s on the website.”
I could spend all day relaying phone agent falsehoods, but you get the idea.
So which AAdvantage partners are bookable online?
The following airlines are displayed on aa.com, and should also be bookable using the web interface:
|American / |
|air berlin||British Airways||Hawaiian||Royal Jordanian|
If your entire itinerary is on these carriers, you will be paying the phone fee.
Meanwhile, you can still redeem AAdvantage miles for these partner carriers, even though they don’t display online:
|Air Tahiti Nui||Fiji Airways||LAN Airlines||Seaborne Airlines|
|Cape Air||Gulf Air||Malaysia Airlines||SriLankan Airlines|
|Cathay Pacific||Iberia||Qatar Airways||TAM Airlines|
|EL AL||Japan Airlines||S7 Airlines||Westjet|
|Etihad Airways||Jet Airways|
Redeem AAdvantage miles for Gulf Air (and their darling bears!)
As long as you have at least one of these partner airlines on your itinerary, you should be able to have the Ticketing Service Charge waived.
What if I’ve paid this fee by mistake?
If you’ve been charged the Reservations Ticketing Service Charge erroneously, AAdvantage will refund the $40 per passenger if you call.
The itinerary will still be intact, and you won’t lose your award space (but I’d probably confirm this with each agent — there are some errant Dividend Miles agents answering the phone these days and who knows what they might do).
My eventual hope is that if everyone keeps asking, someone at AAdvantage will put up a sign in the break room announcing the fee waiver, or even better reprogram the computers.
But in the meantime, just be nice, and the American agents should (happily) waive the fee for you.
Has anyone else been charged this fee? Or are we just really, really lucky?