Update at 12:45 PM ET: The Points Guys says he has an official statement from the American Airlines PR department:

“Last night, in a routine effort to better align American to industry standards with other global carriers, American began collecting carrier-imposed surcharges on tickets for travel on other carrier’s metal.  This change was intended for revenue tickets only, but the surcharge was erroneously added to AAdvantage award redemptions on other airlines as well.  Except in the cases of British Airways and Iberia (where American currently collects these surcharges), no carrier-imposed surcharges will be applied when redeeming AAdvantage miles for award travel on other carriers.  Any customers who encountered this fee in error will be fully refunded.”

This is incredible news, but it is fishy as heck. American Airlines has always collected the fuel surcharges on paid tickets, so I don’t understand this explanation at all.

Furthermore it doesn’t align at all with what the memo said or what @AmericanAir said on twitter.

The good news is that American Airlines miles have not been massively devalued, and we can continue to use them surcharge-free on all partners except British Airways and Iberia.

All this excitement for nothing! It does go to show that things can change in an instant, though, so please earn and burn instead of hoarding your miles.

Update at 7:37 AM ET: My good friend Mike Choi called American Airlines to price out one seat in economy on February 5 from Los Angeles to Tokyo-Narita on Malaysia Air flight 93.

Total taxes and fees for one seat in Y came to $176.20

I asked for a breakdown for any YQ or YR and the agent came back with:
YQ $145
YR $2.00

YQ $5.00

For those who don’t understand the jargon, his economy seat would cost miles + $176 one way including fuel surcharges of $152. Yesterday, fuel surcharges were not imposed.

As far as I can tell, we still don’t have “notice” of these changes from American Airlines except for the confirmation provided on Twitter. When will American Airlines announce these changes. Will they?

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Update at 7:02 AM ET: There was a little confusion on Twitter (@MileValue, #devAAl) that finding routes without fuel surcharges means this devaluation is not as bad as thought. But I have a different reading. From the original post:

“as of August 28 (today) American will be imposing fuel surcharges for award tickets on all carriers… even for international travel on American! So far they’ve apparently only updated the rates for Malaysia Airlines, but I expect they will shortly as well for travel on other carriers.”

I agree with Ben there. The memo sounds like all awards will have fuel surcharges as soon as they can technically get the computer to start collecting them. Awards found without fuel surcharges now should be booked if this whole story is true.

Here are three more awards without fuel surcharges from Finnair, airberlin, and American. The price is listed below the flight info.

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Update at 6:47 AM ET: I’ve priced out two awards–one on Qantas and one on JAL and no surcharges on either. That means the only awards with surcharges so far that we’ve heard are Malaysia Air awards.

This flight on JAL in economy priced out over the phone to 25k miles + $2.50 tax + $25 phone fee. No fuel surcharge.

This Qantas flight priced out online to 37,500 miles + $26.50, which again indicates no fuel surcharges.

My internet connection is making it very hard for me to call AA to price out a Malaysia Air award. There is space on MH 93 from LAX-NRT on February 5 and 9 in economy class. It is a 2:40 PM – 7:45 PM +1 flight. If anyone can find out the price for that award, that would be great info to have.

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Update at 6:34 AM ET: @AmericanAir confirms it on twitter.

Then this:

I don’t know what they mean by “determined based on cities.” I mean I think it means that Los Angeles to Hong Kong could have surcharges while San Francisco to Hong Kong does not which would make no sense.

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On One Mile at a Time, Ben reports:

After a few minutes she came back and read me the memo, which stated that as of August 28 (today) American will be imposing fuel surcharges for award tickets on all carriers… even for international travel on American!

So far they’ve apparently only updated the rates for Malaysia Airlines, but I expect they will shortly as well for travel on other carriers. After all, this policy is only in effect as of a couple of hours ago. Just to be sure the agent wasn’t going crazy and literally making up a (really legitimate sounding) memo, I called back, and the agent gave me the same answer after putting me on hold to talk to the rates department.

I’ve just woken up in Paris, so I haven’t done anything to confirm. This is big enough news that if you were putting off booking with your AA miles for no particular reason, do it now.

I’m going to call American Airlines with some test bookings to get to the bottom of this and will have much more on this developing story including how it affects my mileage earning and redeeming strategies.

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