American customer relations is still confused about fuel surcharges on award tickets

A few weeks ago I caused a bit of a sh$#storm by sharing the news that American would begin imposing fuel surcharges on award redemptions for travel on all their partners. Presently they only impose them on British Airways and Iberia (though they’re very small on Iberia),  so this would have represented a huge change in policy.

My intent in sharing the news right away was because I wanted to give people as much of a chance as possible to book award tickets before their systems were updated to reflect the fuel surcharges. I wasn’t the only one communicating this, but even American’s Twitter team was confirming this was in fact a new policy. A few hours later American issued an official statement saying that this was an in fact an error.

So you’d think it would be all fixed, though reader Carfield forwarded me an email correspondence he just had with customer relations. He was trying to change an award ticket for travel on airlines other than British Airways/Iberia, and was being told the taxes would increase by ~$300, which would be equal to the fuel surcharges imposed for those flights.

Below is part of the email he received from American customer relations on September 20, just a few days ago (bolding mine):

Thank you for contacting American Airlines. Your email to AAdvantage® Customer Service has been forwarded to Customer Relations for review. We are pleased to have the opportunity to respond.

Effective August 27, Cathay Pacific Airlines assesses this carrier imposed charge for travel on Cathay for all customers. This includes customers traveling on AAdvantage® award tickets. We are required to collect this charge for any tickets purchased or changed/reissued after August 27.

However, as a one-time exception and gesture of goodwill, we’ve authorized personnel in our Passenger Refunds department to issue the applicable credit to the credit card account used to purchase the ticket. Depending on the bank’s billing cycles, it could take up to 2 cycles for the credit to be reflected on a statement.

So even weeks later it seems there’s still confusion at American over this. Now I don’t actually think they had plans to impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions on other carriers or will do so anytime in the near future, though it’s pretty surprising they can’t at least get the policy straight…


  1. Yes, I had a similar problem with an AA Platinum agent two weeks ago who tried to charge me fuel surcharges for roundtrip flights on MH (PEK to KUL). Only when I insisted did she finally agree with me, but she said she would have to have the ticketing desk manually calculate the taxes since it was automatically pricing with the fuel surcharge.

  2. Yesterday I made date changes on AAdvantage award tickets that had both CX and AS segments, and there were no extra fees. The changes were only made to the AS segments if that somehow made a difference. Tickets were successfully reissued.

  3. A little late to getting around to reading this.

    I just thought the way American handled this (or is handling this) is very fishy. Indeed, you may have actually saved us from getting the fuel surcharges implemented. I.e., the twitterstorm you created scared them into backing down. I posted a [far-fetched] theory about the whole thing I had back at the time on how maybe they purposefully led people to believe it was on all tickets so that when they pared it down to only revenue tickets, the anger would dissipate into nothing—which indeed it did. Nobody seems to have even noticed that a change took place—carrier-imposed surcharges on other carriers’ metal.

    Anyway, I’m glad you did what you did.

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