Airlines Have New Frequent Flier Fees

by Steve Dasseos on July 23, 2008

Just when consumers started to think they could get something for nothing comes this blast of reality from several major airlines. There are new fees to fly free. “If you’re using frequent flier miles for a summer vacation, celebrate your good timing,” said Bill Hardekopf, CEO of “Soon, most major airlines will charge a fee to redeem your frequent flier miles.”

Chalk them up to new fees airlines are using to offset the rising cost of fuel. American has been charging AAdvantage members $5 for every award ticket issued since June 21. The Award Processing Fee applies to all award tickets, except those booked by Executive Platinum elite members and those already paying a fee for tickets booked within 21 days of travel or booked through the airline’s call center.

US Airways will assess “award redemption processing fee” for all award tickets issued on or after Aug. 6. It will charge $25 for flights in the Continental US, Alaska and Canada, $35 to Mexico and the Caribbean and $50 to Hawaii and international destinations. US Airways will also stop offering bonus miles on paid flights flown by its elite frequent-flier members.

Starting August 15, Delta will charge as much as $50 to issue SkyMiles Award Tickets. Delta will add a $25 surcharge for Award Travel between the 50 states and Canada and a $50 surcharge for Award Travel between the 50 states/Canada and all international destinations, including the Caribbean, Latin America, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Trans-Atlantic and Trans-Pacific.

Jeff Robertson, managing director of Delta’s SkyMiles Program, said the price of fuel has nearly doubled in the past year, causing considerable financial stress to Delta’s business.=

Airlines are already charging as much as $35 to make award reservations by phone; $150 to have award tickets issued within seven, 14, or 21 days of departure; $150 for changes on an award ticket and $150 to redeposit the miles from an unused award ticket in your account.

“The airlines are having such financial difficulty and are fighting for their survival. I don’t expect the charges and changes to end here,” Hardekopf said. But there’s more bad news. Airlines are also cutting back flights and reducing seating capacity, which will make it harder to use your miles.

Hardekopf called it a good time to shop around for a reward card that offers benefits beyond airline miles. He suggests Miles by Discover, Merrill+ Card, Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards and Bank of America cards with Worldpoints.

Source: Just Ask Asa Aarons, July 21st, 2008

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