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American Airlines' latest under-the-radar feature makes it easier to get a refund

May 21 2020
4 min read
American Airlines' latest under-the-radar feature makes it easier to get a refund
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American's been making a whole host of changes recently.

Aside from modifying boarding times, it's also extended elite status, introduced a new award cancel and redeposit fee structure, added the ability to purchase seat assignments with miles and removed the legacy award search tool.

But there's one new feature that flew under the radar — a timer that counts down how long you have to request a fee-free refund within the first day of booking. But that's not all: The timer gives you more flexibility to cancel and refund your flight than AA's stated policy.

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Though American's site says that "you have up to 24 hours from the time of ticket purchase for a refund if you booked at least 2 days prior to departure," in practice the new timer gives you much more time than that. As confirmed by an American Airlines spokesperson:

The new feature of the timer provides more transparency to our customers on exactly how much time they have to ask for a full refund on a new ticket purchase.

And how much time do you have exactly? Until 11:59 p.m. local time of the first departure airport one day after ticketing. In the past, some AA agents have granted refunds for flights canceled a bit over 24 hours from booking. But this is the first time that this customer-friendly policy has been formalized publicly. (Note that you can still only request fee-free refunds for tickets booked at least two days before departure).

To see the timer, you need to load the 'find trip' page on AA.com. Once you're in the reservation, click the 'Cancel' button. On the next page, you'll see the banner counting down how much longer you have left to cancel your flight for a full refund.

Related: You are entitled to a refund for your canceled flight

Though the Department of Transportation mandates that airlines must provide a refund for flights purchased more than seven days before departure and canceled within 24 hours of booking, AA's revised policy is even more generous than these minimum requirements. If you purchase a ticket early in the morning on a Monday, you now have until late Tuesday evening to get your money back.

AA also offers 24-hour holds for select reservations, but that option isn't always available. Even if you take advantage of a hold, you'll still qualify for the improved 24-hour cancellation policy after you pay.

Related: Understanding legacy airlines’ 24-hour hold and cancellation policies

Of the big three U.S. carriers, American's updated 24-hour cancellation policy is arguably better than United's. UA abides by the 24-hour time limit, but its flexible booking policy applies to last-minute purchases.

American Airlines planes at PHX. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.)

Delta's is the best of the three though since you can cancel for a full refund as long as your cancellation request is made by midnight of the day after the ticket is purchased or midnight of the departure date of the first flight, whichever comes first.

Nonetheless, the timer on AA.com and the corresponding refund policy is great news for customers who need a little bit more time to decide if they're going to take the flight.

Featured photo by (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)

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