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How to change or cancel an American Airlines flight

April 02, 2022
6 min read
American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER LAX
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Planning a vacation can take a tremendous amount of time and energy. When things go wrong and you need to change or cancel your plans, will it be easy to do so?

Thanks to changes made during the coronavirus pandemic, changing and canceling American Airlines flights has gotten much less painful. The airline has eliminated most of the fees associated with changing or canceling many types of tickets.

In this guide, we'll help you better understand American Airlines' cancellation policy, change policy and refund policy.

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American Airlines' cancellation policy

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

If you purchased your ticket directly, American Airlines' cancellation policy is pretty straightforward. There are a few key points to consider:

  • All tickets are fully refundable within the first 24 hours after booking as long as your departure date is more than two days in the future.
  • Nonrefundable tickets can be changed or canceled without a fee, but you won't receive a refund. Instead, you'll receive a travel credit applicable to another flight that you'll need to use within one year from the date of issue of the original ticket.
  • Basic economy fares are the lone exception in that they cannot be changed once booked. If you can't fly on the original flight you booked, you'll lose the entire value of the ticket.
  • You can refund fully refundable tickets at any time to the original payment method.
  • You can cancel award tickets and redeposit the miles you used without a fee.

As you can see, the current American Airlines cancellation policy is extremely customer-friendly. In a move to spur bookings during the pandemic, American Airlines made massive changes to the policy, eliminating virtually all fees and restrictions. Except for basic economy and some tickets that originate outside of North and South America, you won't have to worry about jumping through hoops or losing the value of your tickets.

When changing a nonrefundable ticket, you'll receive a travel credit for any reduction in fare. For example, if you change from a $500 ticket to a $300 ticket, you'll receive a travel voucher for $200 to use on a future ticket.

Related: American Airlines is making it much easier to redeem your existing travel credits

How to cancel an American Airlines flight

The steps to cancel an American Airlines flight on paid and award tickets are now virtually identical. Once you log in to your American Airlines account at aa.com, click on the "Your trips" link in the menu:

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(Screenshot from aa.com)

From your list of upcoming trips, select the one you'd like to cancel:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Select "Cancel trip":

(Screenshot from aa.com)

And then confirm your cancellation:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

American Airlines should automatically reinstate your miles for award tickets. And the airline should automatically issue a travel voucher for paid tickets.

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Related: Why you should wait to change or cancel your flight if you want your money back

How to change an American Airlines flight

Changing an American Airlines flight online is easy. You can also contact American Airlines via phone to change your flight. Here are the steps to change a flight:

Once you've pulled up your trip in your account online, select the "Change trip" button:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

From there, click the box labeled "Yes, I want to change this flight" and search for new flights:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Select a new flight from the options given:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Then, American Airlines will display the new itinerary as well as whether you owe additional funds or are entitled to a credit:

(Screenshot from aa.com)

If you're entitled to a travel credit, American Airlines will display this as a "Refund Amount." But, in almost all cases, that refund will be issued as a travel credit instead of a refund to your original payment method.

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Once you've confirmed your new itinerary, you should receive an email from American Airlines with the travel credit to use on a future flight.

(Screenshot from aa.com)

Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

American Airlines' refund policy

American Airlines' refund policy is pretty straightforward but fairly restrictive.

Refundable tickets can be refunded to the original payment method at any time before departure. If you purchased the ticket directly from American Airlines, you can request a refund on the American Airlines website. But if you purchased your ticket from a travel agent, whether a traditional travel agent or an online travel agency such as Expedia, you'll need to contact them directly.

Nonrefundable tickets are only eligible for a refund more than 24 hours after purchase if one of the following applies:

  • A schedule change of more than four hours.
  • Death of the passenger or a traveling companion.
  • Military orders for the passenger.

Related: The best credit cards for American Airlines flyers

Bottom line

The pandemic changed quite a bit for airlines and travelers alike. American Airlines has eliminated virtually all fees when you cancel a flight or change a flight. The extra flexibility when you change or cancel a flight means that you should be able to book without worrying about losing money or your miles.

American Airlines has gone a bit further with its changes than United Airlines' policy. Since American doesn't charge anything to redeposit miles, you should consider jumping on a great award booking as soon as you see it. You can always get those miles back without penalty if your plans change before departure.

Related: How to redeem miles with the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more