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We’re used to bad news coming out from airlines (SEE: recent 6 winners and losers with the British Airways devaluation), but recently, there has been some actual good news coming from a major airline!  I first read about it on Miles to Memories, though other folks have also mentioned it as well.

American Airlines dropping phone service charge on some awards

Currently, American Airlines charges a $25 phone booking fee if you have to call to book an award.  While I can understand charging this fee in cases where you do have the option of also booking it online, it was frustrating

American Airlines is now explicitly NOT charging a phone booking fee now on awards that can’t be booked online.  From the official release:

  • Effective February 3, 2015, the Reservations Ticketing Service Charge will be waived for award bookings that cannot be booked on aa.com.

Note that if you DO call to book an award, the fees have gone up

  • Effective February 16, 2015, a Reservations Ticketing Service Charge of $30.00 for domestic itineraries and $40.00 for international itineraries will be applied by AA Reservations when ticketing award bookings that can be booked on aa.com.

What this means for you

Generally speaking, you could usually talk the American Airlines phone team into waiving the phone charge, but it wasn’t 100% guaranteed to work and it was a hassle trying to deal with it.  So it’s nice that now that you don’t have to potentially argue with the call center representative when you call in to book an award that is not bookable on the website.

One of the most useful situations for this is on American’s Reduced Mileage Awards, which let you fly for only 15,750 miles roundtrip between certain cities in the US and Canada

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(SEE ALSO: American’s Reduced Mileage Awards – why you need to be talking about them)

The beauty of the American’s Reduced Mileage Awards is that certain cities are on the list all the time, which means that not only can you GO to those cities for the reduced mileage amount, but if you happen to LIVE in one of those cities (or near enough to fly from), then you can go to ANY city in the US or Canada for the reduced mileage amount.  For example, Cincinnati (where I live) nearly always seems to be on the list, which is a big mile saver for me.

Close-in booking fee

They do still have a $75 close-in booking fee for awards booked within 21 days of departure, which is frustrating.  This would have been amazing news, but this is still a great deal especially for being able to book the Reduced Mileage Awards.

Fortunately, there are a few tricks that you can use to book a close-in award ticket on American (or United) without paying the $75 close-in booking fee.  See how I managed to do it a few months ago on a ticket for my sister.

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