More than a Year Later, AA Still Trying to Collect Telephone Booking Fees for All Partner Awards

by Miguel R. Quinones


Early last year American Airlines eliminated telephone booking fees in connection to award bookings that included airlines not bookable on the AA web site. This was a great move by American considering that less than half of their partners, including many of their most popular ones, are available for online bookings.

The current AA partners whose award flights are currently not bookable on the AA web site are the following:

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia
  • JAL
  • LAN
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar
  • S7
  • SriLankan
  • TAM
  • Air Tahiti Nui
  • Etihad
  • Fiji Airways
  • Gulf Air
  • Jet Airways
  • Seaborne Airlines

For the first few months after this change was implemented, I noticed that almost every time I called AA to complete an award booking that included flights on partner airlines not available online they would still try to collect a telephone booking fee. Usually it was easy to convince them that AA was no longer collecting said fee. However, on occasions the intervention of a supervisor was required.

As time went on, the number of times AA has tried to collect a telephone booking fee when they were not supposed to has decreased significantly. Nonetheless, more than a year later, I would say that they still try to do it about half the time.

I understand that it takes time for their agents to get used to changes such as this one, but a year should have been enough. Most of our readers would notice every time AA incorrectly tries to collect this fee. However, I have to imagine that AA has incorrectly collected a telephone booking fee many many times on bookings completed by more novice travelers. If this has happened to you, please note that you are entitled to a full refund of said fee.

Bottom Line

Despite eliminating telephone booking fees in connection to awards that included airlines not bookable on the AA web site, American Airlines still constantly tries to collect this fee. Therefore, whenever completing an award booking by telephone that includes flights on AA partners not bookable online, make sure that among the taxes and fees they are not including any booking fees.

Need assistance with your next award trip? Please consider the PMM Travel Consulting or Juicy Miles award booking services for all your redemption needs.

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02nz April 21, 2016 - 7:43 pm

This is one of my biggest annoyances with AA. I made about a dozen bookings that should have been exempt about six months ago (so months after the new policy was put in place), and every time, without exception, the agent tried to collect the phone booking fee until I called attention to the new policy. Sometimes this involved quite a bit of waiting. Most annoying is to think of how many people don’t know about this and get charged a fee they shouldn’t be paying.

RickNY April 21, 2016 - 8:28 pm

I agreed, a year it’s enough, and yet again, it happens to me every time I book a reward over the phone. Last time was about a month ago for a Cathay Pacific reward. What makes me suspicious is that, as you mentioned, it is generally easy to convince the representatives that the fee is waive, try to do the same with $300 change fee and see what happens. Are they just pretending they don’t know their year-old policies?


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