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Avoiding the big fuel surcharges and taxes you’ll find on British Airways award flights when using American AAdvantage miles can be tough when you’re trying to go to Europe, especially during peak times like the summer.
You can try some of the techniques we list here to avoid them.
But sometimes you have to suck it up and book an award ticket that includes British Airways flights.
What you might not know is that it doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying those fees.
AAdvantage has a generous rule that lets you make changes to the date or time of award flights up to 21 days before departure free of charge.
So for example, let’s say all you were able to find for a Chicago to London trip was a Chicago to New York to London flight (with New York to London on British Airways).
But a few weeks later you noticed the Chicago to London flight on American Airlines with no fuel surcharges opened up.
You can switch to it and not pay any fee for the change as long as the origin and destination city remain the same.
It’s okay to change airlines or connection cities.
Even better, you’ll get all the extra fuel surcharges you paid refunded back to you.
So it pays to keep an eye on award seats as you get closer to your trip.
You can visit AA.com periodically and look for some of the routes listed here that don’t have fuel surcharges.
Or, you can set an alert for available award seats on American, US Airways, or Iberia flights that have no or low surcharges using ExpertFlyer.com. You just specify the number of seats you want and the flight number, and it will constantly scan the inventory, alerting you if the seats become available.
You can then be among the first to grab them by calling American to change your flights.
Unfortunately this technique won’t work if you’re booking using US Airways Dividend Miles, as US Airways charges a $150 fee for changes of any kind to award tickets. And it’s possible this fee will be made part of the new AAdvantage when the two programs combine next year, so take advantage of it while you can.
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