The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® 60,000 mile offer has expired. Check out the current best credit card offers here.
I am updating and re-posting my series on redeeming American Airlines miles.
“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index
- Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions
- Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles
- Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges (this post)
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
- Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand
- Part 11 — Redeeming for South America
- Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe
- Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa
- Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia
Let’s talk about the out-of-pocket cash costs associated with American Airlines awards: the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges. How much are taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges on American Airlines awards? This is part five in a series that will allow you to master redeeming American Airlines miles.
All award tickets, using all types of miles, require you to pay the government taxes associated with your ticket. These are $5.60 per one way on domestic tickets and a lot more on international tickets, ranging from $50 to $300 roundtrip.
Premium cabin awards that originate in the United Kingdom are the most expensive. Avoid those, and you’ll usually book roundtrip awards with taxes around $100 (see List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe so you can plan a return from a low tax country).
If the award search is not possible on aa.com, and you will book by phone (800-882-8880), the easiest way to estimate the taxes you’ll pay on an American Airlines award is to search a similar award on united.com. International taxes are determined by the countries and airports you use, so whatever united.com says the taxes would be on a similar award is what you’ll pay in taxes on your American Airlines award.
American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on award flights operated by British Airways and Iberia.
British Airways’ fuel surcharges are outrageous. From New York to London on British Airways flights, American Airlines collects fuel surcharges of $229 one way in economy and $414 one way in Business or First Class. These are in addition to the taxes on the award. Fuel surcharges are actually a lot lower heading from London to New York at $180 one way in Business Class, but taxes are so high leaving London in a premium cabin (see above) that you will still pay close to $500 out of pocket for a one way award.
American Airlines does not collect fuel surcharges on British Airways intra-Europe flights.
On British Airways flights to other regions, fuel surcharges vary. You can look them up on aa.com, since aa.com displays British Airways award space and breaks down the cash component of awards between taxes and “carrier-imposed fees,” a euphemism for fuel surcharges.
The fuel surcharges that American Airlines collects on Iberia are much smaller. I priced out roundtrips in economy and Business Class from New York to Madrid on Iberia with American Airlines miles.
- Economy had combined taxes plus fuel surcharges of $190 roundtrip.
- Business had combined taxes plus fuel surcharges of $214 roundtrip.
Taxes on a roundtrip award of direct flights between New York and Madrid are $56 on united.com. That means fuel surcharges are $134 roundtrip in economy and $158 roundtrip in Business Class on Iberia between the United States and Europe.
American Airlines doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on any other airline for award tickets.
In addition to taxes and fuel surcharges, you may be subjected to fees.
- $40 to book an award by phone if it can be booked online. This is WAIVED when you cannot book the award online, but make sure the agent remembers to waive it. This is also waived for Executive Platinum elites.
- $75 to book an award within 21 days of departure. Waived for elites.
- $75 to change departure date to a date less than 21 days away. Waived for elites.
- No fee to change the date of an award more than 21 days in advance.
- No fee to “upgrade” an award to a better cabin than the one in which you initially booked the award more than 21 days in advance.
- $150 to cancel an award, to change the type of award (e.g. AAnytime to MileSAAver or AA-only to partner), or to change the origin or destination of the award. For additional awards changed/canceled at the same time, you pay only $25 per award, so a couple canceling their award would pay only $175 total. Waived for Executive Platinum elites.
For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. When redeeming these miles, you are on the hook for taxes, fuel surcharges and fees. Minimize all three by booking at least 22 days before departure, avoiding British Airways and Iberia, and not flying home from Great Britain.