American Partner Award Surcharge Mishaps Continue – Big Fees on Qatar Airways

Sep 25, 2013

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Following the announcement Monday from American Airlines and Qatar Airways that members of each other’s frequent flyer programs could earn and redeem their miles on the other airline, I wanted to look into actually redeeming American miles on Qatar, so I looked into the options of booking award travel through American Airlines and using my AAdvantage miles to fly on Qatar’s non-stop flight from JFK to Doha.

AA’s website was still acting wonky – I suspect it’s partly because they are loading in Qatar partner flights, so I had to call AA and speak to representatives about award availability, which was spotty in October and November, and downright impossible to find according to them from early November through January, though I bet they’re not used to looking for Qatar flights and that the whole award schedule still hasn’t been integrated.

However, after a bit of time, I was able to book award travel in both economy and business classes, as first class is not offered on this route.

A roundtrip economy flight from JFK-Doha requires 90,000 miles.
A roundtrip economy flight from JFK-Doha requires 90,000 miles – and almost $520 in fees!

Qatar Airways flies direct from New York and a round-trip flight departing on October 2 and returning October 8 from JFK-Doha operated by Qatar Airways will cost 90,000 AAdvantage miles plus $516.20 taxes and fees for economy. If you want to fly business class, it will require 135,000 AAdvantage miles plus $516.20 taxes and fees. That seemed quite high to me on both classes of service, so I asked the agent to double check and she said that yes, the taxes and fees were that high. I asked her what part of that was taxes and what was fees, but she said she could not see the breakdown.

This business award would require 135,000 miles - and the same $516.20 in taxes and fees.
This business award would require 135,000 miles – and the same $516.20 in taxes and fees.

However, since the amount for both economy and business was the same, my suspicion is that American is still mistakenly adding carrier-imposed surcharges to partner award tickets and that once the two airlines have synced up their systems successfully this will be resolved. I priced out a regular economy roundtrip on Qatar on the same route through and the taxes and fees only came to $122, which would seem to back up my theory.

Screen shot 2013-09-25 at 8.34.59 AM

I just wanted to do a little searching and found some other partner awards, like this economy roundtrip on Air Berlin that priced out at 40,000 miles and $108 in taxes and fees.

Air Berlin econ award

So I think that for the moment, American and Qatar are still syncing up their award space and it is pricing out the taxes and fees on award tickets much higher than they’ll end up, but only time will tell.

In light of that, I’m going to keep checking back throughout the week to see if those fees drop at all, but I would also caution anyone looking to book these awards right now that you might end up getting slapped with unusually large fees on the ticket and they might come down in the coming days or weeks, though as I said, award availability seems pretty tight right now, and even non-existent a month or so out, so if I were looking to book one of these tickets, I’d probably wait a few more days to see if all the wrinkles get smoothed out.

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