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Good News, Bad News for American Booking Fees

Among the many, many fees the airlines have imposed over the past few years, the fee for phone bookings, made with the assistance of a reservations agent, was among the earliest.

As fees go, it was one of the more palatable. After all, with online booking so simple and readily available, personalized service began to feel like an “extra,” worth paying extra for. Of course, when the online option was not available—when booking award flights on some partner airlines, for instance—the phone-booking fee felt like a gouge.

For most U.S. airlines, the phone fee for a domestic booking has held steady at $25, and $5 or $10 more for international reservations. But in a move likely to precipitate a match by other carriers, American has announced an increase, from February 16:

  • Domestic booking fees will rise from $25 to $30
  • International booking fees will rise from $35 to $40

A fee increase is never good news, but American has packaged this one with a policy change that takes some of the sting out of the higher prices: “Effective February 3, 2015, the Reservations Ticketing Service Charge will be waived for award bookings that cannot be booked on” So from now on, when reserving award flights with Iberia, LAN, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and other airlines which cannot be booked on American’s website, there will be no service charge for calling American’s reservations center and having an agent make the booking for you.

One step forward, one step back.

This article originally appeared on

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