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The major US airlines have recently been rolling back some of the fees that they have introduced over the years as they stumble towards the conclusion that they’re going to have to be ultra-competitive in the coming years if they’re not to lose out on market share to their closest competitors. Now, in the latest fee-cutting exercise, American Airlines has announced that it is eliminating change fees on select international bookings.
Airline Fees Are Slowly Going The Way Of The Dodo
At the beginning of September, American Airlines announced that it was eliminating change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and standard Main Cabin tickets for all domestic and short-haul international routes. Earlier this month, we were told that the airline was eliminating award ticketing fees and award redeposit fees, and now American Airlines has confirmed that it is eliminating change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and (most) Main Cabin tickets for all long-haul international flying when travel originates in North or South America. Basic Economy fares will still be charged a change fee.
For flyers based in the Americas this is clearly very good news, but any joy at seeing yet another annoying airline fee eliminated is tempered by the fact that the fee isn’t being eliminated for fares that originate in Europe, Asia, or Oceania. This may have something to do with the fact that the airline doesn’t want to be out of step with the partners that it has in those regions (e.g. British Airways, JAL, and Qantas) but as all these partners also offer fares out of North America, I’m not sure that’s a particularly strong argument to make.
One of the big selling points of American’s various Joint Ventures (the JVs that it has with BA, JAL, Finnair, Qantas, etc…) has long been that it shouldn’t make any difference to the paying customer which airline in the JV they book with as the fare offered is essentially the same. This latest development, however, appears to change all that. Will we now see other oneworld airlines eliminating change fees for travel originating in the Americas? I have no idea but it will be interesting to see if things change.
With immediate effect, American Airlines has eliminated change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin (except Basic Economy) tickets for all long-haul international flying that originates in North or South America. If your travel originates outside North or South America you’re out of luck but this will still be very good news to a majority of American Airlines customers.