Hong Kong law doesn’t allow fuel surcharges on travel originating there. Even British Airways, for instance, doesn’t add fuel surcharges to Hong Kong – London flights.
Nonetheless, American Airlines was hitting customers with these fuel surcharges anyway. I pointed this out and American agreed to issue refunds. Not everyone got the refunds due to them, and I followed up.
- They had pulled the list of customers wrong. A reader’s reservation that should have gotten a refund and wasn’t allowed them to identify the problem. I’m told that refunds have now been completed.
- However American is doing something here that I still believe is squirrely. They are refunding illegal surcharges on Hong Kong – London flights, but they aren’t refunding surcharges is a customer booked London – Hong Kong – London roundtrip.
View from Deck of London Heathrow Galleries First Lounge
They’re apparently taking the position that itineraries originating outside of Hong Kong aren’t covered by the legal prohibition, so they don’t have to refund customers to get in compliance. Someone that booked two one-ways would get a refund for the overcharged Hong Kong – London flight, but someone booking a roundtrip wouldn’t.
The problem here is that customers wouldn’t have known they would save money booking two one ways precisely because American was illegally collecting fuel surcharges in both directions. If someone searched one way pricing they would have seen fuel surcharges both ways, concluding they might as well book roundtrip. They’d have been deceived by American’s illegal collection of fuel surcharges into booking a roundtrip, and since they booked a roundtrip American doesn’t see themselves as obligated to offer a refund. Talk about a deceptive practice! Shame on American Airlines.
But Hong Kong wasn’t the end of the story. I shared a paid economy roundtrip on British Airways that was selling for $646 for a week in December with the American team. (HT: Paul P.)
The surcharges filed with the fare total $250, and that’s consistent with how American prices a paid ticket.
However if I pull up a saver award in economy for the same flights I get taxes and fees of $730.46. An award costs more than a paid ticket, even while spending miles. Some might even say this is proof that AAdvantage miles have negative value.
The surcharges on the award total $518 — more than double what’s being charged on the same paid itinerary.
American was overcharging customers here, too. American says they’ve corrected that and they’re issuing refunds as well as trying to make sure they aren’t overcharging customers on other routes, too. A spokesperson tells me,
We have processes in place to help ensure we avoid these errors entirely but on occasion they do happen..
We’ve undergone a comprehensive review of the filings internally and with our airline partners and together we’re working to consolidate the information to contact impacted customers and issue refunds where appropriate. That process will take some time and over the next few weeks we will begin contacting customers and will share information as needed with our reservations team so they are best positioned to respond to customers.
If any readers come across another instance of American overcharging AAdvantage members let me know. I’d love to get refunds for everyone that’s being overcharged. We have to catch their hand in the cookie jar, because “these errors..on occasion” happen. So our quixotic question continues.