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Question on Award Travel Fees

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Hey all you airline gurus...we've got a discussion going on in the Europe forum about the fees associated with award travel (specifically on American Airlines) and thought someone here might have some firsthand knowledge to provide some clarity...

Not necessarily trying to compare apples to apples, but I've priced some award travel to different locations in Europe and one direct flight from CDG to ORD will be 40K miles + $85 fees; while a "free" flight to Venice from ORD is 40K miles + $400 fees. How are these fees calculated? Is it based simply on the destination? Do the connecting airports influence things? What about time of year or class of service or...? Here's a link to the original discussion:

http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/fees-on-reward-travel-to-europe.cfm

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