American Airlines Improves 24-Hour Cancellation Policy
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.
American Airlines has changed its 24-hour cancellation and refund policy again — but this time for the better. The airline will now allow customers to cancel (for free) within 24 hours of booking on tickets purchased for flights as close as two days ahead of departure. The previous policy only covered tickets booked at least seven days out.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to give customers either the opportunity to put a ticket on hold for 24 hours before purchasing, or provide at least 24 hours after booking a flight to cancel without penalty even on a non-refundable ticket. However, that rule only applies to tickets booked at least seven days in advance of departure, so AA is being more generous than the DOT rule requires.
Originally, American complied with the DOT rule by offering a 24-hour free hold option before purchasing tickets. But after a mistake fare in 2015 caused headaches for the airline and led to a settlement with the DOT regarding cancelled holds, the carrier switched to a 24-hour cancellation policy in April 2016.
The new 24-hour policy, which has been in place for a few weeks and clarified in recent days, also applies to American award tickets redeemed at least two days ahead of departure. Meaning if space suddenly opens up and you want to book a speculative award, you can do so knowing that you can cancel within 24 hours and won’t have to pay a redeposit fee — so long as your flight leaves at least two days after booking. Customers will also no longer have to cancel and request a refund for tickets in two separate steps, streamlining a previously somewhat confusing process.
When American changed to a 24-hour cancellation policy in 2016, the airline stated that free 24-hour holds would eventually disappear. However, those 24-hour are often still available at aa.com depending on the flight. There’s no guarantee that any particular booking will be offered a 24-hour hold option, but if you do get the opportunity to put an itinerary on hold, you’ll still be eligible for the 24-hour free cancellation if you end up booking the ticket before the hold ends. That means in certain cases when booking American tickets, you can get quite a bit of time to consider your options before you’re 100% locked into a non-refundable ticket.
When it comes to American’s main competitors, United currently requires tickets to be booked at least seven days in advance of departure in order to be eligible for free 24-hour cancellations, though enforcement of that rule is spotty. Delta is the most generous of the three legacy airlines, as you can cancel almost any Delta revenue ticket within 24 hours if it was booked directly with Delta. Award tickets are a different story, as Delta does not allow award ticket cancellations within 72 hours of departure.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees