American Airlines Institutes Free Flight Cancellations

Aug 4, 2011

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

You can read it here on The Points Guy first: As of August 1, 2011, American Airlines now allows penalty-free cancellation of valid, ticketed flights. At least, when it’s them doing the canceling.

Yes, that’s right. Even if you make a valid, ticketed reservation on, they have now instituted a policy where they can cancel your ticket at at any time, free of charge, without letting you know.

The Backstory

Okay, you may be scratching your head and if you haven’t picked up by now, I’m being sarcastic. Last week I told you about a BIG issue I was having with an American Airlines reservation. In short, I paid over $3,700 to fly from Hong Kong to New York round-trip on Cathay Pacific in first class. I purchased the ticket on and got it confirmed and charged to my credit card. However, nine days later, American sent me an aggressive email saying I had actually purchased coach. Wait, huh?

They gave some incommensurate, unacceptable re-routing options and I rejected them on the phone and sent them an email saying I wasn’t okay with their less-than-customer-friendly options. Personally, American has held nearly $4,000 of my money hostage for almost a month and most importantly wasted my time – all because of an error on their part. I understand errors happen, but I told them on the phone and via email that a simple refund wasn’t enough – they should give me something for wasting my time and resources. Last time I checked, they charged their customers steep fees when they needed to cancel or change tickets – so why should it be any different for American when they decided they no longer wanted to honor a legitimate fare that they sold me via their website?

I never heard back from them and yesterday I logged into my account and I noticed my ticket was canceled. I never received a response to my email or another phone call from them confirming that they ignored my concerns and canceled my ticket, which, quite frankly, I think is garbage customer service.

My canceled trip - good thing I logged in to know it was actually canceled

We Won’t Pay Change Fees!

I personally don’t want to create a war over this and I don’t want to pull a, “Do you know who I am?” like many of you suggested, because, to be quite honest, I don’t think American Airlines cares. They admitted they made a mistake on the fare and they decided to do what was in their best interest.

Not that I’m going to give American Airlines any money anytime soon, but I say let’s all of us together start a new strategy with the airline that gives them a taste of their own medicine. If they try to charge you a change fee, just tell them you made an error and you don’t feel like honoring the contract anymore, since it’s obviously okay for them to that to customers when it behooves them. Extra points if you use the word “behooves.”

Oh and by the way, I still don’t see a refund from American Airlines on my American Express statement. I’m sure they are taking their sweet time to get that processed.

Rant over.

Am I overreacting here?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.