If you go to American’s website you will see that the processing charges are thus:
Ticketing less than 21 days prior to departure: $0
Travel ticketed 20 – 7 days prior to departure: $50
Travel ticketed 6 days to 2 hours prior to departure: $100
But if you want to fly sooner than 21 days wihtout paying those fees, here’s what you do: book a ticket for at least 21 days in advance and then call American (because you can’t do it online) to change the date to when you really want to go. There is no fee to change the date even if it is within 21 days or even 1 day. The system doesn’t make sense and I called them twice about it and an agent, weary from my intense interrogation, said that it is indeed a loophole.