How to Avoid American Airlines Phone Booking Fees!

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It is possible to avoid American Airlines phone booking fees if you know the award booking rules.  The AA phone booking fee is $25 per ticket for awards that you have to call in to book.  These tickets include Iberia, Cathay Pacific, and Japan Airlines.  So, how do you avoid this $25 phone booking fee?

It is important to know these two American Airline award rules:

American Airlines does not charge a fee when changing your date of departure when you keep your origin and destination the same.

They also do not charge a fee if you switch Oneworld partners.  For example, switching from AA to JAL or CX does not incur a fee because they are all Oneworld partners.  However, switching from AA to Hawaiian Airlines incurs a fee because Hawaiian is a partner airline, but not a Oneworld partner airline.

Here’s an example that I recently performed for someone.  I wanted to book a ticket on Japan Airlines, but didn’t want to pay the $25 service fee.  Therefore, I did the following:

  1. Searched BA.com for JAL availability.  I was lucky to find a date where AA and JAL were flying business class. 

    Find JAL Availability (example)

    Find JAL Availability (example)

  2. Called the Aadvantage desk to verify JAL availability.
  3. Booked a business class ticket on LAX-NRT on AA metal on AA.com
  4. Quickly called the Aadvantage center after booking the ticket and even before the ticket was officially issued.  I asked the agent to switch from AA to JAL on the same date.
  5. My ticket was booked for JAL without incurring the $25 AA phone booking fee.
AA Receipt Without Phone Booking Fees!

AA Receipt Without Phone Booking Fees!

I was able to do this method to avoid American Airlines phone booking fees.  I am sure that this method would also work for Cathay Pacific, but AA currently does not fly to HKG until DFW-HKG starts flying.  You should be able to book an AA ticket from LAX-DFW-HKG, then switch to LAX-HKG on Cathay Pacific.  I’m sure there are other ways you can use this trick. Hopefully this trick helps you save a few dollars.

13 comments for “How to Avoid American Airlines Phone Booking Fees!

  1. joe
    February 19, 2014 at 10:11 am

    “American Airlines does not charge a fee when changing your date of departure when you keep your origin and destination the same.”

    If I keep my same origin and final destination can I change the routing between those two without a fee?

    • February 19, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Yes you can without a fee if they remain oneworld partners.

  2. christine
    February 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Excellent post! thank you very much! can you please show me how to look up award availability on BA.com?

    • February 19, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      It’s quite straight forward. Create a BA account and book with avios. It does take a few clicks to check dates.

  3. Ann
    February 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Since Etihad is not a one world partner it would not work for what you are suggesting right?

    thanks!

    • February 19, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Etihad is classified as an other partner airline. Don’t do this trick with etihad.

  4. Jen
    February 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    “American Airlines does not charge a fee when changing your date of departure when you keep your origin and destination the same.”

    Would AA charge a fee if I change date of arrival or change the date of stopovers? I had assumed that there would be no fee as long as the origin and destination were kept the same.

  5. RNP
    February 20, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Would you please help/show me how to book AA from any west coast airport to MNL and return?

    • February 20, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      You have to call AA to book Cathay Pacific. They are mostly only releasing tickets 11 months out. Award availability is extremely limited.

  6. Diana
    February 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Hi Romsdeals,
    This question is regarding AA award booking plus a free stopover. Would LAX (aa) – HNL (aa) – OSAKA (hawaiian airlines) be a valid routing for AA free stopover in honolulu for a few days?
    Thanks

  7. Paul
    September 30, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Lucky,

    I want to book a JAL flight via AA in less than 21 days. If I book it further out, can I call again to change the flight and avoid the close in booking fee?

    Thanks

  8. MichaelP
    October 28, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    This didn’t worked for me, I was still charged $35 phone booking fee. I originally booked AA DFW-NRT in Y, called in to change to DFW-SAN-NRT in J.

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