American Airlines extends free change and 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.
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.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
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.
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.
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 JT Genter/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, 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.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.