Reader Question: American Airlines Award Fuel Surcharge Refund Issue

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email yesterday regarding an award ticket issue he was having with American Airlines (US Airways issues) for travel on British Airways.

Reader Question British Airways Award Issue

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I read your blog very frequently and was wondering if you can help me on this, since I don´t know what to do from here.

I have been trying for months to solve this matter, unfortunately no one is really helping me at AA. The last thing they told me is to contact British Airways?

I had booked a US Airways award ticket in First Class:


ATL-LHR-TXL on British Airways.

In LAX the AA agent could not find the booking and did not check us in. Our flight to Atlanta left without us. It took 2 hours of discussion and 2 supervisors and the AA Team rebooked us on AA from LAX-LHR nonstop.

I have paid heavy fuel surcharges for the British Airways flights, and would like to have these refunded. Unfortunately the refunds team at AA does not get the point at all, not even realizing that they you do not charge a YQ on their own metal. Their last E-Mail suggested that I call British Airways?

Do you have any idea, what I could do?


This issue has nothing to do with British Airways. When American Airlines is trying to get you contact BA, they are just trying to get rid of you or the agents are 100% incompetent.

Not sure what exactly had happened with your US Airways issued ticket that had both American Airlines and British Airways segments. At some point American moved all the old US Airways tickets/reservations to their system that may have lead to this “disappeared” reservation.

They should have just rebooked you on the same flights and used the US Airways (or new American Airlines) ticket number and reconciled this with their back office later. They didn’t, however, do this and ended up inconveniencing you.

As you pointed out, American Airlines and US Airways charge very heavy fuel surcharges on awards issued on British Airways that they don’t charge for awards issued on their own metal.

You should open a case with U.S. Depart of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection unit. You can do it online (access here) even when you are based in Germany.

Alternatively, you can hire a lawyer to letter to AA’s registered address in Germany.

Let us know what happens with this case.

I have never found American Airlines to be very good at solving issues, as I have pointed out many times here on LoyaltyLobby. You have to babysit that award reservations are actually ticketed and getting customer service usually requires certified letter to AA’s HQ or complaint via DOT.

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  • Chris Coombs

    Interesting question, but I wonder if you are entitled to any refund. Usually when rerouted for operational reasons your tickets are not repriced as per the route you actually do fly. You aren’t asked to pay any more or less.

    Was you rerouted ticket on a award inventory (presumably not since you would have booked the direct/cheaper route at the outset). You also aren’t being asked to pay the cash fare on the seat code (ie F) you did fly on…..

    When tickets are re-issued before travel with new flights, I can understand a recalculation of taxes then, which could be up or down, but I don’t think that’s what happened here (it’s an operational reroute).

    • Janet

      It’s hard (or at least pretty disingenuous) to claim ‘operational re-route’ if the ‘operational’ issue is that they “lost” his reservation.

      Technically he may not be entitled to a refund, but even then, they should give him goodwill compensation for the inconvenience. AA probably saved quite a bit of money flying him on their own metal, and AA metal for 12 hours << BA metal for 8.

      • cscasi

        And it made money with the fuel surcharge he paid, if American issued his reward tickets. This article does not provide enough information for one to make a good opinion; only speculative.

  • cscasi

    How did he book the ticket; through British Air, through American or through U.S. Airways; do we know? I also know that if you book an award ticket on American or British Air and any of the legs involve British Air flights, one will be charged a fuel surcharge.
    If American flew him from LAX to ATL and then to LHR, there should be no fuel charges added. But, if British Air flew him on from LHR to TXL, they would have added a fuel surcharge.
    That’s why I try to avoid British Air on international routes; that and because a lot of their planes have the herringbone seating arrangement.