American Airlines has a number of award partners that are not bookable on aa.com. A call to AA Reservations is necessary to book this space and reservations made over the phone carry a $40 booking fee. This fee was traditionally unavoidable, but after the US Airways merger AA stopped collecting it on telephone-only bookings. But unless you ask for it, you’re still going to pay this fee.
To review, the following AA partners can only be booked via telephone:
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Cape Air
- Cathay Pacific
- Fiji Airways
- Gulf Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
Even if your itinerary contains space that can be booked online, adding just a single segment on one of the above carriers will make the award reservation ineligible for online redemption.
Most AA agents are aware of the policy to waive this telephone booking fee, but I can count on one hand the number of agents who proactively offer to waive this.
You must ask. Most will immediately waive the fee without question. Some agents, however, will insist that everything can be booked online and take several minutes consulting their guidelines, inevitably finding that the carriers above actually cannot be booked online and waiving the fees without an apology for wasting 10 minutes of your time.
It merits repeating – whether by design or just the way things play out, agents do not offer to waive the telephone booking fee proactively so you must explicitly ask to have it waived. Sometimes agents will just ask for credit card info and not even mention that a $40/ticket charge will be added to the reservation. Even if an agent says nothing about a booking fee, ensure that it has not been added by double checking with the agent that it not being collected.