Do Award Cancellation Benefits Change With AA Elite Status?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
TPG reader Liam tweeted me to ask about when AAdvantage elite benefits become available:
@thepointsguy – "Can I book AA award travel as a Platinum elite member, then use privileges to cancel and reinstate miles when I become Executive Platinum?"
Over the years, the airlines have eroded elite status by doing things like making lower-tier elites wait until check-in to get premium seats, or selling first class upgrades to whoever will pay instead of giving them to elite members.
However, one top-tier perk that hasn't changed (and is probably my favorite) is the ability to change award tickets and redeposit miles for free with AAdvantage Executive Platinum status.
To get back to Liam's question, the answer is yes. It might take the airline one or two days to register your new status, but as soon as you have it, you can change your tickets and redeposit the miles even for reservations you made long ago. All that matters is your elite status level when you go to cancel the award and redeposit your miles.
I use this benefit all the time, which has saved me thousands of dollars in change fees and lost miles over the years. In fact, among the many reasons I love Executive Platinum status, this is the one that really motivates me to maintain it year after year. Those systemwide upgrades are nice, but American has really been pulling back on upgrade inventory. Plus, right now I have so many AAdvantage miles from credit card bonuses — such as the 75,000 miles you can earn with the Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard — and spending that I'm mostly using them for amazing international first-class tickets on partner airlines.
Be careful not to abuse this benefit by booking tons of speculative travel that you won't use. For one thing, you don't want to take award space away from fellow points and miles junkies, but also, if you book as Executive Platinum and then lose your status, you can’t reinstate without a fee.
If you have high-tier status with United (Platinum or 1K) or Delta (Diamond or Platinum Medallion), you'll get these same perks. If you haven't managed to score elite status, remember that Southwest lets you change any flight for free and use your credit toward other flights.