American Airlines eliminates the most annoying fee in award travel

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If you’re not in the habit of booking last-minute flights, you may not even know about this fee. For many of us, this change in AA’s policy will save us hundreds.

In short, if you book an American Airlines award flight within 21 days of departure, you’d be charged an arbitrary $75 “close-in booking fee.” But beginning today, Jan. 15, 2020, American Airlines has officially axed this fee.

The AA award chart has moved to dynamic pricing, meaning the airline now charges whatever it wants for each flight. Because of this, we were anxious to see if AA would slightly increase its award price for tickets within 21 days (United Airlines began this practice after eliminating their close-in booking fees). After some research, I can’t find enough evidence to convict. Here’s a sample fare a couple days from now between Columbus and Burbank (it’s an Economy Web Special fare):

Insanely cheap, both in miles and taxes. Yesterday, this ticket would have cost 5,000 miles and $80.60 ($75 close-in booking fee + $5.60 in taxes).

Last-minute travelers like myself are ecstatic to see this fee disappear. It was price-gouging at its ugliest; airlines know you’re desperate if you’re booking at the eleventh hour. Many of us have used miles and points to make unexpected emergency trips more affordable, such as the death of a loved one. It’s nice to know American Airlines miles will once again be an ally for trips like these.

Let us know what you think of the change. And subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the ever-changing landscape of miles and points.

Featured image courtesy of Philip Pilosian/Shutterstock

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