American Issuing Refunds for Improperly-Collected British Airways Fuel Surcharges

On Friday I reached out to American Airlines because they were collecting carrier-imposed surcharges when using AAdvantage miles for British Airways awards even on an itinerary where there are no such surcharges.


View from Deck of London Heathrow Galleries First Lounge

Hong Kong – London Heathrow fares do not include fuel surcharges (at least for tickets issued in Hong Kong, as a result of Hong Kong law). Taxes on this business class fare total $44.30:

As a result, when using British Airways Avios to book this award, British Airways collects the correct taxes (we’re converting currency differently and are one penny off) with no surcharges.

However AAdvantage wanted $307.30 on this same award.

This included $263 in carrier-imposed surcharges that are neither filed with the fare nor collected by British Airways for this same flight..

Now I did find a British Airways fare for Hong Kong – London Heathrow with a US point of sale that included $263 in fuel surcharges (frequently you buy tickets with a point of sale at your city of origin, and as I say British Airways wasn’t attempting to collect the fuel surcharges from its own members). So that seemed to be the root of the issue.

To their credit, American has quickly addressed this.

First, American Airlines is no longer adding surcharges to awards for British Airways Hong Kong – London Heathrow flights.

Second they tell me they’re going to “proactively refund passengers” for used their AAdvantage miles and paid surcharges they shouldn’t have been collecting.

At this point I don’t know exactly how long the process will take to identify customers and process the refunds. If you’re someone who should get money back, it’s something to watch for and eveentually follow up on (especially if you no longer have the card used to pay this).

In any case that’s great responsiveness on American’s part for their members.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. If its anything like my experience in March trying to get AA to refund a flight cancelled by winter storm Stella , good luck! Keep after them, maybe you’ll get refund by September.

  2. @eponymous coward — I did not discover this on Flyertalk (and had not read the Flyertalk thread before querying American).

    * It was brought to my attention on Facebook (it appears around the time of post #5 in that thread)

    * I got the process with AA underway on Friday morning first thing.

    * The discussion of point of sale in that thread appears to have been this morning, but it was in my email to American 5 days ago

    To be clear I brought it to American’s attention, got the issue in front of legal, revenue management, and AAdvantage, and got them to fix it and institute a refunds process. Spent a decent amount of time doing so, and did not know learn anything from the linked Flyertalk thread as part of that process.

    It looks like a poster in that thread owes me an apology.

  3. This makes me wonder who normally keeps these charges when booking BA flights through AA awards? You’d think BA would notice and want the cash or does AA just keep the money and blame it all on BA. I wonder how they audit this?

  4. @ Gary

    Thanks for explaining and for your work. Given your past history of hat tipping, I have no reason to doubt you. Figured I would ask.

  5. American also charges the U.K. departure taxes on award tickets for children even though they are exempt, or they did as if last year. You have to call to get them manually removed and it’s a whole process. They were well aware of it, they called it “the GB tax”. Apparently their system doesn’t actually differentiate children even though it appears to. It was over $100 for my two kids.

  6. Gary – I have a ticket that should be eligible for the refund. Online customer service told me to call. I called AA today, but the rep couldn’t find anything about it. Do you remember which department you contacted?

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