The airline industry in the United States has, in many ways, become a game of monkey see, monkey do. Delta moves first followed by American and United. The latter two airlines have taken turns going second over the past 10 years or so.
View From The Wing is reporting on a reliable rumor from xJonNYC, who always has the reliable scoop on American Airlines. American appears poised to eliminate the $75 fee they charge for booking an award within 21 days of your departure date:
AA will be removing the close in booking fee.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) July 27, 2019
Delta has already eliminated this fee. United has eliminated it for travel after November, when they make a full transition to variable award pricing. American Airlines may ultimately eliminate the fee before United does, we’ll have to wait and see.
As Gary notes, the close-in fee isn’t really necessary once the airlines have variable award pricing. This change may be another signal that AA is close to announcing variable award pricing. Given how many miles the airlines sell to their credit card partners, they actually do want to encourage customers to redeem them. That keeps the engine running. They don’t necessarily want to swap out an expensive paid ticket for an award ticket. But, regular (non-elite) members of the AAdvantage program likely aren’t a high-spend business customer who chooses to use their miles instead of buying an expensive ticket. There’s little risk eliminating this fee affects paid ticket purchases in a meaningful way.
The Final Two Pennies
Fewer fees is better for customers overall. In this case, there are many more members of the AAdvantage program without elite status than with. In a vacuum, getting rid of this fee helps everyday members redeem miles without a pesky fee. Whether the general members would be better off paying a $75 fee and not having to deal with variable pricing is a question we’re going to have to wait to answer. We may not have long to wait.
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