Phone fee when you can't book online?

 
Old Mar 1, 11, 1:55 pm
  #1  
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Thumbs down Phone fee when you can't book online?

I tried booking award travel to Australia the other day, but I got a message on American's website that I can't book to Australia online... and that I have to call them up. I called them up and booked the tickets... went smoothly. However, I noticed I was charged a $20 phone reservation fee. Is this normal? I tried booking online but it wouldn't let me!
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Old Mar 1, 11, 2:01 pm
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Originally Posted by brettg View Post
I tried booking award travel to Australia the other day, but I got a message on American's website that I can't book to Australia online... and that I have to call them up. I called them up and booked the tickets... went smoothly. However, I noticed I was charged a $20 phone reservation fee. Is this normal? I tried booking online but it wouldn't let me!
Unfortunately, it is normal. I had the same situation when I booked on line to go to Venice. I explained that I couldn't book on line but the rep said they have to charge the fee.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 2:03 pm
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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.601 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/417)

The fee is assessed when you book award travel by phone. Since award travel on partner carriers cannot (currently) be booked online, you will always be assessed this fee when your award redemption involves travel on even one partner carrier. There is no fee waiver, despite the lack of functionality of aa.com.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 2:12 pm
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This is one policy that I dislike about AA. It's essentially a hidden fee since there is no way to avoid it at all. I feel AA should do the right thing and waive the phone fee for any booking that cannot be done online.

Perhaps this is why they have not allowed the booking of partner awards online. Why do it when you can make $20 per booking?
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Old Mar 1, 11, 2:16 pm
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Originally Posted by brettg View Post
I tried booking award travel to Australia the other day, but I got a message on American's website that I can't book to Australia online... and that I have to call them up. I called them up and booked the tickets... went smoothly. However, I noticed I was charged a $20 phone reservation fee. Is this normal? I tried booking online but it wouldn't let me!
Yup - just type "phone fee" into "Search" and you'll find plenty of people who are also disgruntled or caught off-guard. Frankly, I agree with you. It's not the consumer's fault that AA's IT systems don't allow certain things to be booked online, which forces you to use their phone agents.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 2:40 pm
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is it waived if they charge you other fees? I remember booking an award ticket a few years back on 24 hour notice and I paid $105 total, so $100 close in fee and $5 taxes. The agent never mentioned a booking fee. Back then I was non-elite, but the close in fee applied to Golds back then as well...
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Old Mar 1, 11, 3:00 pm
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I was charged this fee twice, for the same absurd non-reason. Since we have no control over AA's Web site development priorities, we shouldn't be penalized for doing something over the phone when they have chosen not to give us a different way to do it.

I complained both times. One time I got a bunch of miles for my trouble. The other time I got a fairly self-serving letter from an address that didn't take replies. It said in effect that the tickets we can't book on line are the complicated ones, so we deserve to be charged for taking up phone reps' time. I was píssed, but let it go.

I'd suggest you complain. First, you may get something. Second, the more of us they hear from about that, the better the chances that they'll realize it's ticking off some of their best customers (like the ones who have enough miles for Australia!) for what, in the final analysis, has to be a trivial amount of revenue (compared to, say, the fuel a 777 burns circling O'Hare or Heathrow once.)
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Old Mar 1, 11, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Xero View Post
This is one policy that I dislike about AA. It's essentially a hidden fee since there is no way to avoid it at all. I feel AA should do the right thing and waive the phone fee for any booking that cannot be done online.
It's not hidden since it is (should be) disclosed. It's annoying, to say the least, but not hidden.

Cheers.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post
I complained both times. One time I got a bunch of miles for my trouble. The other time I got a fairly self-serving letter from an address that didn't take replies. It said in effect that the tickets we can't book on line are the complicated ones, so we deserve to be charged for taking up phone reps' time. I was píssed, but let it go.
I'd say I have to disagree with that logic. If the technology isn't available, sure, but lots of airlines allow award bookings on its partners.

AS for one, can book award tickets that use both AA and DL along with AS with Mileage Plan miles. BA is another example where it allows award bookings to be made throughout OW airlines. If a computer can figure out how to do it, it isn't that "complicated" at all; it's just a matter of not implementing for AAdvantage members online just to make an extra $20 per award booking.

By AA's bean counter logic I'd say its more along the lines of weighing in "would it make sense to tie up the customer service agents' time and charge the person trying to claim the 'confusing' ticket with a $20 phone fee or would it be better just to roll out the ability to book partner award tickets online?"
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Efrem View Post

I complained both times. One time I got a bunch of miles for my trouble. The other time I got a fairly self-serving letter from an address that didn't take replies. It said in effect that the tickets we can't book on line are the complicated ones, so we deserve to be charged for taking up phone reps' time. I was píssed, but let it go.
Originally Posted by kebosabi View Post
I'd say I have to disagree with that logic. If the technology isn't available, sure, but lots of airlines allow award bookings on its partners.
I think the real answer is:

"We are working (slowly) on implementing the technology. The $20 phone fees you're all paying are what we use to pay the developers. The more you book, and pay these fees, the faster we will have this technology in place."

Cheers.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by brp View Post
"We are working (slowly) on implementing the technology. The $20 phone fees you're all paying are what we use to pay the developers. The more you book, and pay these fees, the faster we will have this technology in place."
I doubt there's a whole lot of profit in it for AA at $20, once you pay for the total apportioned cost of the call center and the agent.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I doubt there's a whole lot of profit in it for AA at $20, once you pay for the total apportioned cost of the call center and the agent.
I agree with this. I can't see that they're at all motivated, at least at the moment, to move towards enabling online booking for some of the scenarios that aren't possible today.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by thedoorchick View Post
I agree with this. I can't see that they're at all motivated, at least at the moment, to move towards enabling online booking for some of the scenarios that aren't possible today.
I believe the last we heard of this feature "coming soon to AA.com by the end of this year" was back in 2008. They sure are taking their time!
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I doubt there's a whole lot of profit in it for AA at $20, once you pay for the total apportioned cost of the call center and the agent.
Originally Posted by thedoorchick View Post
I agree with this. I can't see that they're at all motivated, at least at the moment, to move towards enabling online booking for some of the scenarios that aren't possible today.
Actually, your statement is at odds with what you quoted. If they're not making money (or even losing) with the phone fees once the proceeds are apportioned across staff and equipment, then they would have incentive to automate that process to avoid the cash sink.

The only reason that they'd not be motivated to make the change is if they're actually profiting from this.

I actually agree with Steve M on this, though- I can't imagine that this is a profit center, so they do have motivation to make it go away through automation. It just takes them a while to get around to these things.

Cheers.
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Old Mar 1, 11, 4:39 pm
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Originally Posted by brp View Post
It's not hidden since it is (should be) disclosed. It's annoying, to say the least, but not hidden.

Cheers.
+1

I remember first running into it years ago when I was trying to book a Citibank Reduced Mileage award. (I wasn't EXP at the time.) Couldn't book the discounted awards online, so had to call AA. They told me there would be a fee. I tried arguing with them about the fee, and they referred me to the tiny print that did indeed state there may be fees involved when ticketing via phone or ticket agents. So definitely annoying and definitely disclosed in the very very fine print, but not hidden.

Though nowadays, they're much more transparent with the phone fee. Right on the new "Reduced Mileage Award" page, the terms and conditions state clearly in the first paragraph: (http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/ea...Conditions.jsp)

Redemption of Reduced Mileage Awards applies only to bookings made by phone through American Airlines Reservations or through airport or city ticket offices. All such award travel is subject to an additional payment of $20.
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