What is one AA fee that continues to be secretly inserted into many reservations?
Although telephone booking fees for partner award tickets that cannot be booked online are (in theory) a thing of the past on AA, agents are still quietly “forgetting” to waive them.
I wrote about this in December 2015, but the problem persists.
As a reminder, award flights on the following partners cannot be booked online:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Cape Air
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji Airways
- Gulf Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
That means if your itinerary includes any of these carriers, the reservation must be ticketed over the phone.
Where the Generally Problem Occurs
The problem is particularly acute if you make life easier for the agent. By that, I mean adding what you can book online then calling in to add the offline partner segments.
For example, say you are flying to Europe and find space on AA in one direction and Iberia in the other. To save time, it makes sense to put the AA space on hold first online, then call into to add the Iberia flights.
But when you do this, agents see that that the reservation was “created” online so when you go to ticket, the $40 telephone booking fee is automatically inserted. I find that more often than not, even with so-called elite status agents, agents will fail to proactively waive the fee (granted, the fee is automatically waived if you do have top-tier Executive Platinum status).
Even worse, they won’t even mention it as a separate line item. Instead, they’ll just quote “taxes and fees” in the following amount. If you are not paying attention, you’ll just assume it is government taxes or fuel surcharges. But it will show up separately on your credit card.
We’re careful now, but there was a period at Award Expert in which these $40 fees would routinely be charged. We always get them reversed after the fact, but it required the time and effort of a follow-up phone call.
The AA telephone booking fee on award tickets is sadly still alive and well in instances where it should not be. Guard against wasting money by simply double-checking with agents that they have removed the fee when you ticket your reservation.