On the surface this would appear to be a very exciting development… but I’m skeptical, as always.
American AAdvantage eliminates close-in ticketing fees
For years, American Airlines has charged a $75 fee for award tickets and mileage upgrades booked within 21 days of departure. The exception has been that elite members — including AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum — haven’t been subjected to this.
Well, effective immediately, American has eliminated AAdvantage close-in ticketing fees for all. This is reflected when doing award searches online.
American says they are “always looking for ways to make AAdvantage award redemption easier for our customers, and this update offers more flexibility when booking award travel and requesting mileage upgrades.”
What’s the catch?
Airline frequent flyer programs typically don’t “give.” When they make an enhancement to the program, it’s typically accompanied by an “enhancement.”
Well, at this very moment there doesn’t appear to be a catch. It doesn’t appear that this is part of any larger change.
However, I would recommend being highly skeptical, especially when you look at the precedent for this:
- Delta SkyMiles was the first of the “big three” US programs to eliminate close-in ticketing fees, and we see the extent to which that has led to a revenue based program and reduced value with SkyMiles
- United MileagePlus recently followed Delta’s lead, though in an incredibly deceiving way; they eliminated close-in ticketing fees as of November 2019, but then immediately added a mileage surcharge for last minute award tickets
So I wouldn’t say “there’s no catch for now,” but rather I’d say “we don’t yet know what the catch is,” or “the other shoe hasn’t dropped.” Take your pick.
I also find the timing of all of this weird. As of now American doesn’t have any press release about this improvement, while I would have expected them to announce this in advance. This makes me wonder if some system was simply updated earlier than it was supposed to, and the other changes will be coming shortly.
American AAdvantage has eliminated close-in ticketing fees, which on the surface is great news. However, I simply have to assume there’s a catch here. Will American increase award costs last minute? Are bigger changes about to be announced?
There must be something. Boy these programs have made us cynical, eh?
AAdvantage management: please prove me wrong! Can an enhancement just be an enhancement for once, with no strings attached?
What’s your theory on this?
(Tip of the hat to JT Genter)