American’s Rules for Changing Awards After March 22 Are Even Better Than I Thought

Yesterday I wrote about changes you will be able to make to American AAdvantage awards after award chart price changes go into effect March 22 without having to pay additional miles.

I pointed out that for an award you book before March 22 you’ll still be able to:

  • change date and time without repricing the award, while keeping airlines and routing constant.

  • change routing without repricing the award, while keeping the airlines constant, with a few caveats. Basically you cannot break the fare. You cannot add a stopover. You’re going to have to stick with a legal routing for the primary carrier on the itinerary.

However you cannot change award types, which means you can’t go from American only to flying partners. You can’t go from an extra mileage award to saver award without a redeposit of miles and re-issue.

There’s really no special rules for March 22. What’s at issue is whether or not the changes you’re making require a new award or merely involve changing your existing award.

Readers had several questions about what this means in practice, so I sought additional clarification.

You can change from one oneworld carrier to another on your itinerary.

Spokesperson Laura Nedbal tells me,

If an All Partner award is claimed, we will allow to change from/to a oneworld carrier and not collect the ticket change. Taxes/carrier imposed charges will apply. We only do this for oneworld carriers.

You cannot change from American-only to a oneworld or other partner airline. You cannot change from a oneworld airline to a non-oneworld partner.

You can drop a segment as long as your origin/destination remain in the same region.

I mentioned being able to make changes as long as your city of origin and destination airport remain the same. In fact, it’s a bit more generous than that. As Laura explains,

We have a drop segment rule that would apply, provided the origin/destination remains in the same region of the award claimed. SFO and ORD require the same North America award so the ORD to SFO could be dropped, retain the same award and no charges apply. As long as dropping the segment does not change the:
• mileage required
• award claimed
• number of awards claimed on the ticket

You cannot simply change your origin city or your destination city but you are allowed to drop a segment. I had an idea of booking a Cathay Pacific first class award to Manila. I can only find first class space on Hong Kong – Manila, and business class across the Pacific Ocean. That forces AAdvantage to issue a 67,500 mile first class award instead of a 55,000 mile business class award. And it lets me upgrade the transpacific flight to first class later for no additional miles.

Cathay Pacific First Class

It turns out that I can do this and drop the Hong Kong – Manila segment later since both cities are in the ‘Asia 2’ region.

I don’t even have to mess with Manila, I should be able to book first class New York JFK – Los Angeles – Hong Kong as a 3-cabin first class award (with New York – Los Angeles in 3-cabin first) and then drop New York – LA later. Or book Hong Kong – Los Angeles – New York and drop Los Angeles – New York later.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @mario Probably not an issue, but I worry about not flying the whole itinerary multiple times and somehow having some adverse action taken against my account. I realize this isn’t hidden-city ticketing or anything else super-nefarious, but other than bags, that is the only thing that makes me a little squeemish; perhaps a completely unfounded fear but I just don’t know.

  2. Is there a reliable list somewhere showing, which CX routes to/from N. America have first class? How about a list showing the routes with fully flat beds in business class.

    The award I just booked for two from DFW-YVR-HKG-BKK was priced and coded as a first class award because there was a first class award available on the HKG-BKK segment.
    BUT according seatguru the HKG-BKK route only offers business class AND the 14 hour over water flight YVR-HKG uses a regional set-up with angle-flat beds in business.

    I’d really like to move it to another routing with fully lay-flat beds in biz but SeatGuru seems to be be quite at odds with what the BA website is telling me. So…. how can one ensure they’re actually getting a solid business class product worth redeeming for?


  3. Gary,

    I tried your idea of HKG-LAX-SFO-JFK, with the LAX-SFO-JFK in F and the HKG-LAX in J. This prices out as a 55K mile award, not 67.5K. Seems that even having a Transcontinental flight in there isn’t enough to force a 67.5K award overall.

  4. If I book a CX J award today for a flight in July and find an F seat after the devaluation do I pay today’s difference or the difference after the evaluation?

  5. @AndrewOnTheRoad SeatGuru is mostly useless. Rest assured that CX is not operating its regional business class to North America.

  6. Gary, if I route JFK-DFW-HKG-MNL on AA to HKG and CX to MNL and then route HKG-DFW-JFK on the way back on the same PNR, would this be a OW award both ways or only on the outbound?

  7. Gary, question about this statement:
    “You cannot change from American-only to a oneworld or other partner airline. You cannot change from a oneworld airline to a non-oneworld partner.”

    I currently have Etihad first (other partner) booked AUH-JFK then AA JFK to LAX(J) on a single ticket. If Z or a earlier flight become available on my JFK-LAX leg, and I want to change it. Will this increase the cost after the date?

    Also Planning on possibly booking another other partner “Jet Airways” along with AA or one world partners on a single ticket. Currently its a horrible itinerary, if I change again, would it have to be repriced since I have the “other partner” in there

  8. The headline makes it sound like AA is doing everyone a big favor and everything is fine and dAAndy. But Gary wouldn’t be biAAsed or anything would he?

  9. I can’t believe you’re actually publishing such a ridiculous method on a open website. Won’t be long until CX close this loophole too.

  10. @Goo no problem to change to first for no additional miles.

    If you put a non-oneworld partner on the itinerary you can’t move to oneworld instead. But you can change the itinerary and keep the non-oneworld partner.

  11. @ryan all awards on aa are one way awards so putting a oneworld airline in the outbound makes it a oneworld award on the outbound only

  12. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the previous response. One more question about changing the award – From reading this post, my understanding is that as long as you stay all AA or all oneworld for your award, changing your itinerary (same O/D) shouldn’t trigger a fee. However, the following is from the

    “For awards involving travel on other airlines, origin or destination changes or changes to the airline(s) in the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type”

    Does that mean if I change an oneworld award from AA/CX and to AA/JL will incur the $150?


  13. I’m trying to book a saver award in F AUH-JFK-YVR. First leg is on Etihad, Second on Cathay Pacific. The current cost for this award is 90K miles.
    However, there is no availability on the AUH-JFK segment in F so I said I want to “voluntarily downgrade” to Business Class on the segment. There is availability on the JFK-YVR segment in F.
    I tried 2 AA agents (in Australia) and they say both that this itinerary requires 2 separate awards, for a total of 100K miles, because of the mixed classes.
    If F space becomes available on first leg, I could change and the award would be recomputed. Of course, my hope is that space will become available but I don’t want the award to be recalculated after March 22 because of the much higher cost.
    What do I do to convince AA to book this as ONE F award for 90K???


  14. For the drop segment situation, does the origin/destination region need to remain the same based on PRE or POST deval chart?

    e.g. CMB-HKG-LAX and dropping CMB-HKG would change the region in the post deval chart since Sri Lanka is moved from Asia 2 to Middle East

    Also, e.g. AUH-JFK-YVR dropping JFK-YVR, that would make it a USA destination vs Canadian destination, which chart does differentiate

  15. Can you change an itinerary where the first segment(s) are AA and the final segment is a OW airline?

    ie. LAX – NRT – HKG – KUL first segment in AA and rest in CX. would a change to LAX to HKG to KUL all in CX reprice the award?

    basicaly I’m asking if we can go from AA/OW mix to just OW. Care to comment? Thanks!

  16. Hi, according to drop rule, can I book TPE-(JL)-NRT-(JL)-LAX-(AA)-JFK, all business class, and then drop LAX-JFK if I need? Thanks!

  17. Regarding booking CX awards on Alaska, since Alaska allows for a stopover and JFK to YVR and YVR to HKG counts as a stopover according to them, if only the first segment has business available while the second segment only has premium economy for the time being. Can Alaska book it all the way through as a business award but issue the second segment in premium economy first, then when business opens up, call and upgrade me to business?


  18. Well done your morons, just been told that friends of mine at CX are looking into stopping this.

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