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American joins United in offering free changes ahead of full flights

May 27, 2020
3 min read
American joins United in offering free changes ahead of full flights
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Alaska, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest continue to block middle seats (or their equivalent) from sale, limiting the number of passengers on each and every flight. While the practice is aimed at helping customers feel more comfortable when it comes time to return to the sky, it can also become incredibly costly, with — in many cases — at least 33% of seats held back from sale.

While United Airlines isn't withholding seats, earlier this month the carrier began notifying passengers booked on a flight where at least 70% of passengers have checked in, giving customers the opportunity to move to a different flight without paying a fare difference or change fee.

Now, American Airlines is implementing a similar program. As the carrier explains, "As more people get back to traveling ad loads are higher, American is deploying new tools to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost."

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American's 3-3 economy cabin on the Airbus A321T. Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.

A spokesperson confirmed the new flight change option, and explained how it'll work. When passengers begin the check-in process online or via the airline's app, they may see a special note, stating: "Your flight may be busier than you expected. If your trip is eligible, you will see the option to move to another flight at no charge when you check in."

The carrier isn't able to confirm what threshold might trigger a free flight change, but if the note does appear, customers will be able to select a flight with lower load factors on the same day, or the day before or after their original flight. American is also limiting the number of passengers booked on mainline and regional flights, but the airline isn't able to confirm how many seats are being withheld.

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American has already begun rolling out this flexible rebooking option, and plans to expand it to more flights soon. Additionally, the airline is waiving change fees for travel scheduled through Sept. 30, though a difference in fare may apply. Be sure to check out our complete guide to airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies for more.

Other AA news: American Airlines’ most premier domestic route is finally back

More: American, Delta and United plan to fly these long-haul international routes in June

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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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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  • Annual Fee

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  • 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.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023