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American Airlines extends free change and cancellation policy

Aug. 11, 2020
3 min read
American Airlines extends free change and cancellation policy
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect AA's extension of its travel waiver.

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, most airlines have been waiving change and cancellation fees for new bookings. With the situation taking longer to recover than originally anticipated, most airlines have extended their flexible booking policies to include new bookings made through mid-September. American Airlines initially had a major exception to its updated policy, but has since reversed course with a customer-friendly move.

In early June, American announced that it would tighten up its flexible booking policy and start to exclude basic economy and AAdvantage award tickets. Of the “big three” U.S. carriers, American was the only one to place such restrictions on tickets. However, American has since quietly backtracked on this and is now once again offering free changes for basic economy tickets.

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Change waiver extension

On July 29, American began allowing all paid and award tickets purchased by Sept. 8, 2020 to be canceled or changed without any fees so long as new travel occurs by Dec. 31, 2021. The purchase-by date has now been extended to Sept. 30, 2020.

It's also worth noting that starting Sept. 9, 2020 American's new award fee structure will kick in, allowing free award-ticket changes and redeposits at least 60 days in advance.

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In describing the July 29 policy update to TPG, a spokesperson of American Airlines explained, "We are always evaluating the marketplace and looking to provide our customers with the most flexibility for their travel plans during the Covid-19 pandemic." The airline also recently made a positive change to its seat fee refund policy.

As a reminder, eligible tickets are allowed one free change and you cannot get a cash refund unless the airline cancels the flight. If you rebook to a more expensive flight, you will have to pay the difference in fare.

Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies

Bottom line

With flexibility not being a differentiator anymore, basic economy has become a lot less relevant during the pandemic. As a result, it may even disappear in the future. In an interview with TPG’s founder and CEO, Brian Kelly, JetBlue’s COO, Joanna Geraghty, mentioned that “flexibility will be a significant component of the future of air travel. As we move through this experience, it’ll be interesting to see how customers use change [policies] going forward. Long-term, it will definitely be part of the purchase decision.” If airlines keep extending their flexible booking policies for all ticket types, travelers will have a lot less reason to buy-up from basic economy.

Featured image by (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees