One kind of fuel surcharge has existed for a very long time, well over a decade. Of course, most tickets are not nearly so complicated. It could be the same as the operating carrier, in which case we can refer to the "prime" flight number. You may have additional airline options available to you by using one carrier over another, or by using more than one. You also may not know who your validating carrier is if you book through an online travel company, or with a travel agent. I think you were just a bit unlucky. This is the carrier that actually issues you with a ticket. Sometimes we use the expression "validating carrier", which is because this carrier is responsible for validating the itinerary is correct and properly paid for. If you need to get a refund from the validating carrier, and the company goes bankrupt, you may be out of luck. This might limit the degree to which you can travel with your refund credit.
I think you were just a bit unlucky. As you note, if you buy the ticket from AA. In the end, a ticket must be issued by a single airline, on that airline's virtual or physical paper ticket "stock". Sometimes the flight is actually operated by a subsidiary company under the control of the operating carrier, but let us not dwell on that complication. Normally this will be one of the marketing carriers on your itinerary, usually the first or the one marketing the longest leg on the journey. I will say up front that I understand the mechanics of how this stuff works much better than I understand the business rationale behind it or the history of how it got this way. We may also use the expression "plating carrier", because in the old days of paper tickets, a big old metal plate with the airline's name and code number was used to stamp the carbon paper tickets. It could be the same as the operating carrier, in which case we can refer to the "prime" flight number. This airline gets the money and distributes it to the other airlines on the ticket. This may be another important consideration when you book trips using multiple airlines. And they wouldn't be breaking any rules by doing so. It is the carrier responsible for collecting payment and distributing it to the other carriers on the ticket. It is part of the fare, and it appears as part of the fare rules under a section called "surcharges", and in the fare calculation line after the letter "Q". The main reason to book onto a codeshare is a price and b frequent flier benefits. However if you were on a Lufthansa ticket with just a short domestic feeder flight on BA in the UK, I expect you would be told to go and find Lufthansa. Sometimes you can find a carrier whose website will sell tickets completely on other carriers, and get around the surcharges that way without naming names, there have been recent examples posted on FT. As marketing carrier of a flight. As fare owning carrier. In your shoes I probably would have insisted that BA fix their own mess rather than trek over to the AA terminal, but that is a matter of experience. These new surcharges often appear on the ticket as if they were a tax. Sometimes we use the word "metal", for instance, this is a BA metal flight if it has a BA logo printed on the outside and people in BA uniforms on the inside. There's a catch, though - the validating carrier must agree concur to collect the fee. If you need to get a refund from the validating carrier, and the company goes bankrupt, you may be out of luck. This is the carrier that actually issues you with a ticket. This is a surcharge that is imposed by the marketing carrier of a flight, and is published separately from the fare rules marketing carrier XX doesn't have any say about the fares of carrier ZZ that might nonetheless pay for XX's flights. There is only one ticketing carrier for the ticket, but there can be many different marketing and operating carriers mixed in.
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