As it proceeds with its merger with US Airways, American Airlines has been making some policy changes lately. First it announced that it would no longer be offering bereavement fares, then the airline devalued its Choice Fares by paring down the bundled benefits and jacking up the prices on fares that include change fee waivers. Recently, the airline also did away with another flyer-friendly policy of allowing ticket holds of up to 24 hours even on flights within a 7-day window.
The Department of Transportation requires airlines “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty,” but that is only the case for departures over 7 days from the purchase date. American used to extend the courtesy by just putting the itinerary on hold for you without having to pay for it for 24 hours and then charging you if you didn’t change it, so it essentially waived the 7+ days requirement.
But now AA’s site says: “You may place your reservation on hold for up to 24 hours if you are booking the reservation seven or more days prior to departure.” The good news is, shortly after this change American noted that you could actually purchase a ticket and still cancel it free of charge within 24 hours whether or not you were within 7 days of departure, so there is still room to play around. It’s a slightly more restrictive policy – however, it’s one that’s more in line with the other major US carriers.
As a reminder, here is a rundown of the ticketing hold, change and cancellation policies of the major US airlines as they currently are.
Alaska: Change/Cancellation Fee for changes made at least 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure is $0, and $125 for those made within 60 days of departure.
American: Though you can’t hold a ticket within 7 days of departure now, you can buy it then cancel within 24 hours risk-free if you’re 7 days or more out from departure. And remember, you can still purchase (more expensive) Choice Fares that waive change fees if you think your plans might change.
Delta: Once you’ve bought a qualifying eTicket, you have a day to cancel it for any reason and receive a full refund—including any prepaid fees and Direct Ticketing Charges—with no cancellation fee. Cancellation request must be made by midnight of the day after the eTicket is purchased or midnight of the departure date of the first flight, whichever comes first. Available only for eTickets purchased at the time of reservation through Delta ticket offices and airport ticket counters, Reservation Sales, or at delta.com.
JetBlue: Customers will have 24 hours from the time of their original booking to cancel their reservation without being charged a cancellation fee if travel was booked seven (7) days or more prior to the departure date (not applicable for Getaways reservations). Bookings that have been changed are not eligible for a credit card refund and are subject to a cancellation fee, regardless of being within 24 hours of the original booking.
Southwest: The airline lets you change or cancel a fare within the 24 hour window without penalty, but it also allows you to change or cancel a reservation anytime before flight time and get a credit for the full amount of your fare, applicable to future travel within a year of the original reservation. You will have to pay any applicable fare increase.
United: Tickets purchased through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center in the last 24 hours may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees under our 24-hour flexible booking policy. In all other cases, please choose your refund type below and select Continue to begin the refund request process.. You can also use United’s FareLock by paying to hold a reservation anywhere from 72 hours to 7 days.
US Airways: You’re allowed to cancel your US Airways ticket (refundable or non-refundable) for a full refund (and no change fees and/or difference in fare). To do so, you must call within 24 hours of purchase to cancel (and request a refund). This does not apply to Dividend Miles award tickets.
Virgin America: Virgin will let you hold your itinerary for 24 hours when booking through our reservations call center. Regardless of the booking method, if you purchase a ticket and need to cancel within 24 hours of the original purchase, a full refund will be provided in your original form of payment without penalty.
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