Rumor: American To Eliminate $75 Close-In Award Ticketing Fee

Filed Under: American, American AAdvantage

On the surface this probably sounds like a good thing, though it might not actually be…

Close-in award ticketing fees & revenue based award charts

Delta SkyMiles has been offering revenue based award pricing for years. This means that the price of an award ticket is largely correlated to how much a ticket would cost if paying cash.

Earlier this year United announced that they’d begin offering revenue based award pricing as of November 15, and we also know that American is eventually headed in this direction.

Historically we’ve seen airlines charge a $75 close-in ticketing fee for award tickets booked within 21 days of departure. This isn’t entirely rational, which is to say that you’d think airlines would actually want to encourage people to redeem last minute, since those seats are most likely to otherwise go out empty. Then again, airline fee structures have never been rational.

Delta SkyMiles, however, hasn’t charged that $75 close-in ticketing fee. That’s because Delta’s frequent flyer program is basically a revenue based program, and the intention is that award prices closely mirror revenue rates, with no additional fees needed.

We also know that United MileagePlus is eliminating close-in ticketing fees as of November 15, 2019.

American to eliminate close-in award fees

The always reliable @xJonNYC now notes that American is expected to eliminate close-in award ticketing fees soon. We don’t have an exact timeline yet, but apparently this is in the works.

On the surface this good news, though:

  • This certainly suggests that American AAdvantage will be moving even more closely towards a revenue based program, as this is likely to be part of larger changes
  • This was one benefit of having any elite status (since that fee was waived), though that will be yet another thing that is eliminated as an elite perk

So while I’m a fan of eliminating close-in ticketing fees, I’m not a fan of the other changes that potentially accompany this.

For now we’ll have to just mark this as something to keep an eye on, though I’ll be curious how this progresses.

How do you feel about American eliminating close-in award ticketing fees?

Comments
  1. One of the reasons Avios is still valuable is they don’t charge close in booking fees – I have booked many close in awards for 7,500 using Avios when American would have charged a fee. So this is theoretically good for American, provided you can still get those close in trips at reasonable rates

  2. Isn’t American already “unofficially” a revenue based program. Haven’t been able to find a non-stop saver level award in several months.

  3. Id say that most of us use our AAdvantage miles towards partner bookings, and being that that cant really go rev based the elimination of close in fees is a good thing

  4. Josh: No, I use my AA Miles (or Avios) for AA flights in North America and the Caribbean. I have about 325,000 Avios/miles combined.

  5. They’re already doing this on domestic. One way ORD-LAS in business is 60k miles. Main cabin flex is 40k, etc

  6. Ben is right: eliminating any award booking fees is generally good. He’s also rightly concerned that any changes in AA advantage program will probably be detrimental to its customers, one way or another. Hate to see them moving closer and closer to the pathetic Delta Skymiles

  7. Nick: I’m getting 25K one way or 50K round trip ORD-LAS saver awards through the end of schedule, and plenty of nonstop options in both directions. The anytime awards are closer to the 60K you’re mentioning, but that category has always been more closely matched to the ticket prices.

  8. I really don’t understand US airlines’ plans for going revenue-based on awards. They make a ton of money selling miles to credit card issuers, but no one is going to spend anything on cobranded credit cards if they’re just getting around 1% cash back, with substantial restrictions on redemptions.

  9. @tda That’s because American Airlines think that they are very smart, while most american consumers are stupid and bad at math, therefore they will continue to spend on AA credit cards even if the value of an AA mile is devalued to something like 0.4 cents per mile.

  10. Back in 1999, AA were one of the more friendlier award redemption programs in the industry. Fast forward to today, it took me six years to cash in on two business class awards (SFO-JNB-SFO) and avoiding those ridiculous Heathrow fees. No longer do care about accumulating AA points and have changed over to cash rewards programs.

  11. Oh no! Another ‘fake news’ enhancement? When ever is a chAAnge tipped in the customers favour?

  12. The only SAAver awards I ever see either have an overnight connection or layover of > 8 hours. American and AAdvantage is a joke.

  13. Sad to see them move to revenue based award pricing. I’ve repeatedly been getting close in saver awards for 12,500 miles on tickets that sell for many hundreds at the last minute, and as an EXP I have no award redeposit fees. On top of systemwide upggrades getting harder to use, it will be one more reason to shift loyalty away from AA to the airline with the cheapest ticket.

  14. This could be interesting if they actually do go to revenue based reward pricing. I might actually get to fly a nonstop flight on AA metal from DFW to Europe and not get pushed to BA (fuel surcharge). I’m paying for it one way or another. Also, I felt the $75 fee was unnecessary since the user does all the work anyway. I also feel the same about change fees. I got it when you had to call in, but this is just crazy now charging $200+ to change a ticket.

  15. Be careful what you wish for: right now, AA has the lowest mileage requirement for business class ticket to Europe–granted, sometimes it’s hard to find it because its availability might be limited.

    But look what happened when the screwy Delta introduced their so called, “dynamic system” of awards: now they have plenty of award tickets that requires whooping 320,000 miles for one way award ticket! How many people could possibly afford it, especially if you want to fly with a family? Only those with multi-million miles accounts? Do we really want to see it on AA?

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