American Airlines appears to give up on fuel surcharges in some scenarios


Over the past couple days there has been plenty of discussion about cheap fares from many US cities to many Eastern European destinations on American Airlines. Like other, similar deals from American it appears that this one came about thanks to the tickets no longer including a fuel surcharge or international surcharge (YQ or YR in fare code parlance) added on to the total price. That’s a savings of just over $500 on a round-trip flight between North America and Europe and a great deal for travelers if you could make it work. And, as expected, the deal didn’t last too long. It was “fixed” just like they always are. Except this one was fixed a bit differently.

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In the past the fix came about by way of the airline simply resolving the issues which were preventing the YQ/YR from being charged to passengers. The base fares remained low and the $258 o/w surcharge was again being collected. But this time around that is not so much the case. The increase was effected by raising the base fare, rolling that extra $258 in to the fare, the way it was in the “good old days.” I don’t have the ITA screenshot from my original ticket but you can see from the details I do have that the base fare is $345 round trip or $172.50 each way:

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And you’ll have to trust me that the fare I found was OKA0Q3Y1 in both directions. After the deal died I saw the following in ITA:

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Note that there is no YQ/YR being charged but the OKA0Q3Y1 fare for the same city pair and dates is now $430.50, an increase of $258 over what I paid. The surcharge has disappeared from those fares (also the V fare in the above example) but the implementation is far from consistent. For NYC-MAD on the same dates the AA O fare has the YR bundled in the base fare but the US U fare does not. That still has the $248 YR separate.

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For London on an AA N fare the YR is still charged at $229 each way.

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While O fares to and from Bucharest (one of the markets which was on sale the past few days) now simply has the YR rolled in to the base fare.

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Even more interesting is how inconsistent the application of these changes are. It isn’t specifically by fare class or even coordinated by hierarchy. The V fare class is higher than the N fare class in AA’s world which suggests that V fares should be higher than N fares. But it isn’t between NYC and Helsinki. But when you include the $258 YR surcharge the fare jumps back up above the N fare as expected once you consider that the N includes the $258 for its half of the trip.

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And in some cases the YR is included in one direction but not the other, even on an identical fare basis:

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Something bizarre is definitely happening with the way AA is handling these fares right now. I cannot figure out why or even an consistent pattern as to what, but something is definitely afoot. I’d keep an eye on them in the near future for more potential pricing discrepancies.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

4 Comments

  1. If they’re rolling up the fuel surcharge to the base fare, could that create an opportunity to grab a sAAver award without the surcharge as well?

    1. AA only charges the surcharge on awards operated by BA/IB and, best as I can tell, those carriers have not dropped the fee. So I wouldn’t expect to see any changes on that front.

  2. I’m thinking the other way around (and maybe Matt is, too). If AA stops adding YQ/YR, then if you use a partner that passes along fuel surcharges, like BA, you wouldn’t have to pay them anymore on those AA flights that have the YQ/YR rolled into the base fare. ??

    1. I’m willing to bet that BA will continue to charge the fee on AA metal in TATL markets, even where AA isn’t necessarily charging it, at least for now. Part of that is because the changes made by AA so far are not 100% across all fares even on the same route, much less different origin points to the same destination.

      I’d love to see YQ/YR go away completely for a variety of reasons, but I do not think this is the beginning of that nor do I see it coming any time soon.

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