American Airlines offers same day changes for $75, waived for Platinum Pro (75,000 mile) elite members and higher. The rules for these changes are more restrictive than United’s or Delta’s though.
- Same day change (“E”) inventory has to be available, not just any seat on the new flight or a seat in the same fare class you’ve purchased
- You can’t same day change into a lower cabin (first class passengers can’t same day change to economy)
- You can’t change routing – if you’re connecting through Chicago you can’t change to a connection through Dallas, Charlotte or Philadelphia.
Last summer American even limited the ability of telephone agents to be more flexible with these rules.
Fortunately American appears to be experimenting with a more liberal approach to same day confirmed changes, specifically making more inventory available on certain flights to test if that’s something they’re willing to move forward with.
AA is presently experimenting with making SDFC more available. Testing is being conducted out of one hub in particular.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) December 30, 2019
JonNYC reports that this is a test on flights to and from Chicago O’Hare and that not everyone will be afforded this improved flexibility (seems it’s some form of A/B test). It’s not clear how long this test will last, though I wouldn’t count on it being ongoing, or how long it will take to roll out more broadly if that’s the decision that American makes.
The airline likely wants to make sure that being a bit more flexible – as its peers already are – doesn’t lead them to lose last minute sales on flights and also that it doesn’t cause the airline to overbook flights.
The real benefit, it seems to me, would come from addressing the airline’s change rules which are stricter than peers. What use is having the world’s largest airline with multiple connecting points to customers, if they can’t use those connecting points to get to their destination? Same day changes shouldn’t require a customer to keep an identical routing. And first class passengers should have the flexibility to voluntarily downgrade to coach if it means getting home earlier.