I had applied for the Citi AAdvantage 100,000 mile card back in March twice to collect 220,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles! I used the first half of my miles to book a 1st class ticket over to London and Germany this July. I’ve now used the remaining portion of my miles to book a Business class ticket to Italy next April for $58!
My partner also had a 100,000 miles sitting in his account since he applied and was approved for the card as well. So what we did is book a Business/First class ticket from Minneapolis to Rome for $5 each! The trick to avoiding fuel surcharge fees when booking award flight on AA.com is to NOT fly British Airways for ANY of your connecting flights! To be completely honest, this can sometimes feel impossible. I swear, it feels like American Airlines and British Airways have a scam going on to try and force award travelers onto BA flights so they can charge us thousands in fuel surcharge fees. What’s the point of using miles then?
Notice here in my search results from MSP to Rome in May of 2015 bring up award seats, but every result wants to stick you on a BA flight!
The trick is to filter out any award seats that have a BA flight in them by un-checking the “British Airways” box on the left hand side.
As you can see in the picture above, as soon as I un-check the British Airways box, all the award flight disappear on the right! When this happens, I go back to the calendar and I’m persist ant on finding an award seat that does not involve British Airways. Thus, I was only able to find April dates to go to Rome so I can avoid BA all together.
If you do end up getting stuck on a British Airways flight, you end up having to pay hundreds in fuel surcharge fees each way! In the picture below, they want nearly $500 1-way! Multiply that x4 when you’re traveling with a companion and you’ll pay nearly $2,000 in fees. NO THANK YOU!
I tried finding an award flight back to Minneapolis in April from Rome, Florence, and Venice, and I could not find any award seats that didn’t involve British Airways! You might think that you’re stuck if you run into the same situation. This is where I get creative. I will then look for cheap 1-way flight to a neighboring city/country. For instance, I was able to find tickets from Italy to Barcelona, Spain for about $100. I’ve never been to Barcelona, so why not!? Now I go back to AA.com to look for an award seat from Barcelona to Minneapolis and sure enough there are award seats available avoiding British Airways all together! This award ticket cost me $53 in fees. With $5 from the first ticket, this leaves me at a grand total of $58 I spent on AA.com to book a Business class ticket over to Europe! Of course I’ll still have to pay $100 out of pocket for my 1-way ticket from Italy to Spain, but that’s better than paying almost $1,000 in fuel surcharge fees!
The key thing to remember when looking for award flights on AA.com is to be creative if you’re having troubles avoiding British Airways. Always look at neighboring countries/cities and see how much it would cost to grab a 1-way plane ticket to that city and spend a few days there before heading home.