If you’re like one of the many millions of Americans with ruined or changed travel plans this year, then you’ve likely cancelled, rescheduled and/or refunded a flight recently. And if you’re a regular American Airlines customer, then there are some policy changes you may want to keep up with.
American Airlines has made many changes to its cancellation policies recently, from creating COVID-specific travel updates and exceptions to replacing eVouchers with trip credits. So whether you want to cancel a trip entirely for a refund or reschedule later, you should know about your options when you need to change or cancel an American Airlines flight.
In this post you'll learn:
American Airlines Travel Waiver
If the reason that you need to change or cancel your upcoming flight has anything to do with coronavirus travel restrictions, chances are good that you are going to be affected by the new American Airlines cancellation policies.
The first of these is that change fees are waived for flights to any city served by American Airlines that meets certain conditions. These are:
- The ticket was purchased on or before September 30, 2020
- The flight was scheduled to depart between March 1 and December 31, 2020
If both of the above statements are true of your ticket and your flight was booked through American Airlines rather than a third-party service, you are eligible to change or cancel your trip online at no additional cost.*
To change or cancel, simply log in to your American Airlines account and find your trip. If it is eligible to be changed or cancelled, you will have the option to select “Change Trip” or “Cancel Trip” from the toolbar.
When you’re ready to rebook your trip, you can call Reservations at 800-433-7300 and easily do so. You will be asked to provide your ticket number, sent to you in an email when you cancelled, and six-character confirmation code or record locator. Reservations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The other important cancellation policy update pertains to trips to, through, or from Beijing, China and Shanghai, China. Change fees are waived for any of these flights that meet the following conditions:
- The ticket was purchased no later than June 30, 2020
- The flight was scheduled to depart between January 24 and October 23, 2020
Further, you must confirm that you are able to travel between February 1 and December 31, 2020 and change your origin or destination to Tokyo Narita. This policy is current as of October 11, 2020 and the process for changing or canceling online and rebooking through Reservations is the same as stated above.
If you’d rather receive a refund for your ticket than re-book it, you can cancel your trip online and ask to be refunded for any segments of your trip that you have not flown.
*While there are no change fees charged for these flights at this time, you may be required to pay the difference if your rebooked flight costs more than your original flight.
Paid AA Tickets You Can Change or Cancel
The method that you used to pay for your flight will determine whether this travel waiver covers your ticket.
All customers are eligible to cancel or change a flight within 24 hours of booking it without penalty.
Refundable tickets are fully refundable. The travel voucher is not necessary for these tickets.
You may change or cancel a trip at any time before your flight with a refundable ticket at no additional cost. You will then be given the option to receive a refund or rebook for a later date.
Your refund may be issued in full to the original method of payment or to a travel voucher to be used on a future flight, if you prefer.
Non-refundable tickets can be changed or cancelled in advance of a flight, but this is costly. A fee of $200 is charged for cancelled/changed domestic non-refundable tickets and a fee of up to $750 is charged for cancelled/changed international non-refundable tickets.
Basic Economy Tickets
You probably already knew this if you purchased a basic ticket, but cancelling a Basic Economy ticket is typically not permitted. However, the travel waiver currently in effect does cover this fare class.
If you need to cancel or change an existing Basic Economy ticket for a flight scheduled between March 1 and December 31 of 2020, you are eligible to do so at no additional cost (unless, again, the rebooked ticket comes in at a higher value). You are also allowed to change your departure city or destination city.
Please keep in mind that Basic Economy tickets are only temporarily eligible for cancellation. This will not always be the case.
Award tickets are also covered by the travel waiver mentioned above.
Typically, award tickets must be cancelled at least 60 days in advance to be eligible for fee waivers. Otherwise, your awards status will be used to determine what you will be charged, with the highest statuses offering the most flexibility and charging the lowest fees.
For example, if you cancel between seven and 59 days before a flight and you are a Platinum member, you will need to pay $75. If you cancel within seven days and you are a Regular status member, you will need to pay $150. Those with Executive Platinum membership do not pay any fees, no matter when they cancel. See this page for the full fee chart.
Also worth noting is that American Airlines has lowered their elite status threshold for 2020, making it easier to qualify for Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum status.
|Gold||Platinum||Platinum Pro||Executive Platinum|
|Elite Qualifying Dollars|
|Elite Qualifying Miles|
|Elite Qualifying Segments|
These changes are in effect for all of 2020.
Tickets Purchased With Credit Card Points
Any ticket purchased using credit card points within the dates specified by the travel waiver can be canceled or changed at no additional cost. However, the same change fees apply to these tickets as any other.
That means that if you purchase a non-refundable ticket using credit card points, you will still be charged a change fee if you make changes to your flight. Likewise, if you make changes to a trip more than 60 days before scheduled departure and you have elite status, you will not be charged extra.
If you went through a third party site or application to book travel with points, you will likely need to go through that same site or application to change or cancel. And if you can’t do that, you’ll need to get in touch with your bank directly.
How to Change or Cancel Paid AA Tickets
To change or cancel an eligible American Airlines ticket that you’ve already paid for, log in to your AAdvantage account and find the trip. You can get to this through the Your Trips / Check In section of the homepage. Select the View/Change option beside this flight.
Now, indicate whether you would like to change or cancel your trip by selecting the corresponding option at the top and follow the instructions from there. Your rebooking and refund options will be presented.
How to Get a Refund When You Cancel
As you might expect, it’s not easy to get a refund for cancelled American Airlines flights that are non-refundable. One of the only situations that qualifies you for a full cash refund is when the airline itself cancels your flight or changes the schedule significantly. If American cancels a non-refundable flight, it will try to reschedule another trip for you. If a change is made to your original schedule that prevents you from being able to take your flight, you might be able to ask for a refund.
For example, on March 21, 2020, the U.S. and Canada issued a travel restriction on all non-essential flights. At this time, many American Airlines passengers scheduled to fly at this time had their trips automatically cancelled by the airline and were eligible to receive their money back or reschedule at no cost.
Another way to receive a refund for your purchase is by proving that extenuating circumstances are preventing you from taking your flight. For example, if you or someone in your party becomes seriously ill before the flight or you are an active-duty military member unexpectedly relocated, you might be able to get your money back even on non-refundable tickets.
How to Avoid Change or Cancellation Fees
American Airlines has decided to waive change fees for qualifying First, Business, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin tickets issued starting August 31, 2020. Eligible destinations include the 50 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Typically, Basic Economy is not eligible for flight changes or cancellations unless an update is made within 24 hours of a trip being booked. But under the current travel waiver, Basic Economy flights can be altered and change and cancellation fees are waived. You may have until December 31, 2021 to fly.
There is also an exception in place for tickets set to expire between March 1 and December 31, 2020. You can use these to rebook a flight of the same value and travel between now and December 31, 2021.
Another way to avoid fees is to refrain from making same-day changes whenever possible. This costs most passengers, with the exception of those that have Executive Platinum or Platinum Pro status, $75. This is not refundable.
Using Trip Credits
American Airlines has recently replaced eVouchers with Trip Credits. These are given to customers that have cancelled a trip in place of cash, and they are automatically generated by American Airlines. If the airline has to cancel your trip for any reason, you will most likely receive Trip Credit as compensation worth the full value of the cancelled trip.
To use your credits, find the email that was sent to you automatically when you were issued Trip Credit after a cancellation. Then, call Reservations and ask to use your Trip Credit. An agent will ask for the 13-digit code at the top of your email and you will be able to specify the details of your desired trip. If you are combining multiple credits, have each of their numbers ready. If your Trip Credit is not enough to cover the cost of your rebooking, you will need to pay the difference via credit or debit card.
You may use up to eight Trip Credits per flight. The person a Trip Credit was issued to can use their credits to book travel for anyone under their name. Trip Credits typically expire one year after the issue date and can be used on flights only (no seat upgrades, in-flight extras, checked baggage fees, etc.).
There are three types of credits that American Airlines may issue for travel, and these include Flight Credit, Travel Vouchers, and Trip Credit. Flight Credit is issued to you after you have canceled a flight and valid for flights only. You may use only one Flight Credit per passenger and only the passenger whose name is on the credit is eligible to redeem said credit. Travel vouchers have been replaced by Trip Credits.
Although American Airlines’ cancellation policy is flexible for the majority of flyers right now, it won’t always be. Do yourself a favor and purchase tickets that qualify you for free or low-cost changes and cancellations whenever possible. While higher-level flight classes are more expensive, you might save serious money in times of uncertainty such as these by choosing these over Basic Economy.
Also, see if you can manage to qualify for elite status. Consider an AAdvantage credit card if you’re loyal to this airline and use it often.