American Airlines Award Fees and How to Avoid Them
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Hilary Stockton
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American Airlines Award Fees and How to Avoid Them

 

We've touched on American Airlines award fees in Maximizing Awards Using American AAdvantage Miles and Comparing Airline Award Ticketing Fees and How to Avoid Them but I still get questions on AAdvantage award fees and how to avoid them, so figured it was time for a dedicated post.

Telephone Booking Fee: $25

There's a $25 phone booking fee, and it's only waived for Executive Platinum members. While you can easily avoid it by booking American Airlines and Alaska Air awards online, unfortunately you're stuck paying it for all other oneworld and partner award bookings, unless you're Executive Platinum.  Even if you don't fly 100,000 miles a year on American to reach Executive Platinum, if you have top-tier elite status on another airline you may be targeted for a status match to AAdvantage Executive Platinum. If you don't have top tier status, you can do a paid challenge, but unfortunately it's usually limited to Gold and Platinum only, not for Executive Platinum.


Close-In Ticketing Fee: $75

A $75 fee is charged if you book your award ticket within 21 days, but this fee is waived for all AAdvantage elites: AAdvantage Gold, Platinum or Executive Platinum. Since some companies provide AAdvantage Gold status to their employees, check to see if you can get this status, even if you don't fly enough to earn it.


Changes to Origin or Destination: $150

A steep $150 fee applies if you're changing the origin or destination on a MileSAAver award. This fee is waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account. If you're on an AAnytime award (usually double the miles required) then there's no fee to change to an eligible origin or destination.

 

Change to a Different Class of Service: $150 Redeposit if Downgrade

For some reason this isn't clearly clearly spelled out on the American Airlines site, but the way it works is that if you downgrade your class of service, you would have to pay the $150 redeposit fee and rebook. Keep in mind the close-in ticketing fee of $75 if you're departing within 21 days and don't have AAdvantage elite status.

If, however, you're upgrading your class of service, for example going from Cathay Business Class to Cathay First Class, there's no fee charged for the upgrade in class of service and you simply pay the difference in miles. Now, since it's not written down anywhere, it's possible you may run into an agent that will try to charge you the redeposit fee. I would politely end the call and keep calling back until you get a more helpful agent.


Redeposit Fee: $150

Although there's no cancellation fee, American does charge a steep redeposit fee of $150 per ticket, or $150 for the first ticket and $25 for additional rewards booked from the same AAdvantage account and redeposited at the same time. So if you think you may need to cancel an award and redeposit miles, if you have an enough miles, book them from the same frequent flyer account, and redeposit them at the same time so that at least you're paying $175 rather than $300 for the mileage reinstatement.

 

Avoiding Fees

Per Ri in the comments, you can avoid the $25 phone ticket fee even for partner awards (such as Cathay Pacific, LAN, etc.) by making a dummy award online, calling up to change the award, having the agent put the award on hold with a confirmation number, and then using the confirmation number to complete ticketing online. Thanks for the tip, Ri!

 

The best way to avoid the $150 redeposit fee if you need to cancel is:

1. Book the Ticket from an AAdvantage Executive Platinum account: There will be no redeposit fee even if the award was booked for someone else.

2. Reschedule your Flight: If you simply reschedule your flight to another date within the next year, you'll avoid

3. Wait for a Schedule Change: If there's a schedule change of 2 hours or more, you can request the redeposit fee to be waived because the new itinerary no longer works for you. Some folks have been able to successfully get the fee waived for smaller scheduling changes of even 30 minutes or so, but you may have to call back until you get an agent willing to accommodate you. If your departure date is approaching, you could change your date to several months out to allow more time for a scheduling change to occur and increase your chances of being able to avoid the redeposit fee.

 

Related Posts

Maximizing Awards Using American AAdvantage Miles

How to Fly Hawaiian from NYC to Hawaii with AAdvantage Miles

Best American AAdvantage Miles Bonus Offers Available Now

Use American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for Etihad First Class

Airline Ticket Name Change or Transfer to Another Person?

How to Find Oneworld Award Space

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Comments
Picture?type=large Ri Z. commented 26 Sep 2012
You can avoid ticketing charge, by putting award on hold online, call to modify/add awards, then complete ticketing online ;)
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Sep 2012
Ri, yes, thanks for adding this tip! Works well for American or Alaska awards, although sadly for oneworld and other partners you can't avoid the phone ticketing fee since these aren't bookable online.
Picture?type=large Ri Z. commented 26 Sep 2012
Works on partners as well, I have completed Cathay only reservation and AA+LAN reservation by placing a dummy award, then call to add the legs I wanted, ask the agent to place the award on hold, then I use the confirmation # to complete ticketing online.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Sep 2012
Ri, thanks very much for sharing! I've added your tips to the post, and am looking forward to trying this soon on an upcoming booking.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Oct 2012
Ri, have you been able to do this recently? I added Cathay to a held reservation, but don't see any option to actually book it online--states I must call.
Picture?type=large Ri Z. commented 14 Oct 2012
Not recently, if it's 100% cathay flight, you won't able to view the reservation , unless you enter the confirmation number(not sure if that still works).You can always add an dummy a a to the last leg of your itinerary , this should do the trick if you unable to view
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 14 Oct 2012
It's apparently no longer possible--AA has changed it so that if you have any Cathay segment at all as part of the itinerary, it must be booked with an agent. Oh well.
Picture?type=large Saman A. commented 12 Mar 2013
Can you avoid ticketing fees for reduced award tickets?
Picture?type=large Saman A. commented 12 Mar 2013
To be more specific Telephone Booking Fees for the reduced mileage awards.
Picture?type=large Curtis Z. commented 01 Feb 2015
AA charges $75 within 21 days, what if I book later date and change is back within 21 days since there's no change fee in AA
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 02 Feb 2015
Curtis, not sure what you mean--if you book a later date but then change it so the departure is within 21 days, you will be charged the $75 fee. The only way to avoid the fee is if you're an AAdvantage elite (AAdvantage Gold, Platinum or Executive Platinum) using miles from your own account.
User_avatar_default Pan L. commented 24 Jul 2015
Any idea whether equipment change which results In involuntary downgrade in one short segment is a valid reason for waiving the redeposit fee. I have aa awards for hkg-ord-was that I need to cancel.. There is no schedule change, only equipment change that downgrade me from first to coach for ord-was
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 24 Jul 2015
I would think you'd have a decent chance of having the redeposit fee waived due to the involuntary downgrade, and even if the first agent you speak with refuses, it's worth it to HUCA (http://travelsort.com/blog/hang-up-call-again-huca-travel-advice-to-book-your-award-save-you-money) a couple of times.
Picture?type=large Christian R. commented 17 Aug 2015
FYI: In spring of 2015 AA stopped charging fees for telephone mileage bookings on partner airlines which you cannot book through AA.com. I have proved this a few times. This is a great change in policy. Also, I think your fees for call-in need updating: there is a domestic ($30-$35) and a higher international fee ($40 or $45).
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