by Nancy Bestor
When looking to use frequent flier miles on American Airlines recently for my mother in law, I discovered a dirty little secret. Many international American Airlines bookings include some portion on British Airways, one of American’s partner airlines. British Airways charges exceptionally high carrier/fuel fees. Looking at a booking from San Francisco to Delhi via London, British Air would charge more than $500 round trip in carrier fees (United for example, charges no fees for frequent flyer travel) for their leg of the journey, from London to Delhi, and back from Delhi to London again. This does not include taxes, and would be in addition to using miles.
In the past year, many airlines have stopped calling these fees “fuel fees,” and instead have changed the name to “carrier fees.” This avoids regulations that require fuel fees to be tied to the actual cost of fuel. Other airlines besides United do not charge carrier/fuel fees however, which is another good example of why doing your homework before you book a flight, even on frequent flyer miles, can save you money.