American Airlines Improves 24 Hour Refund Policy

Last year American switched to offer 24 hour refunds when purchasing travel a week or more in advance and eliminated 24 hour holds (although 24 hour holds are sometimes still available on their website).

American has been less generous than Delta or United who allow 24 hour refunds regardless of how far in advance you book travel. The Department of Transportation only requires offering 24 holds or refunds for travel purchased a week or more in advance.

Last year American went from the most generous policy to the least generous one, complying only with the minimum DOT standards.

American’s policy for tickets purchased online or by phone wasn’t even competitive with some online travel agencies selling American Airlines tickets.

Now American has loosened up its policy. They now allow 24 hour refunds as long as you purchase 2 days prior to travel instead of requiring 7 day advance purchase.

I still prefer holds over refunds. It makes things far easier to piece together itineraries online and then make whatever changes the website doesn’t allow over the phone. It is more time consuming and error-prone to have to build complicated itineraries with agents over the phone.

At the same time, holds didn’t used to be available 2 days prior to travel but refunds now are. I’m glad to see a customer-friendly more from American, even if their policy is still less generous than either Delta’s or United’s.

(HT: JonNYC)

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. For travel from another country to the United States, do the same dot policies and Or American Airlines policies apply?

  2. For what it’s worth, this EXP has never not been offered a 24-hour hold by AA’s website. In fact, I have two reservations on hold at this very moment.

  3. @Gary, do you have insight into what kind of ticketing procedures AA uses that results in ticketing times of over an hour usually (and I’ve had cases of days or once three weeks with ‘ticket pending’ status), whereas DL is usually within a minute, and even UA is rarely more than 30min… My guess would be that they don’t want to do 1-day 24-hour refund similar to DL/UA since their ticketing is somewhat slow. I also ran into this when I tried to buy a ticket at PHL for an AA flight within 1-hour — they said can’t do it online, can’t do it on the phone (min 2 hours), and have to pay $35 to do it at the service desk! So I did the logical thing – purhcase a DL flight departing within 15min while purchasing the ticket on the app as I walked to the gate!
    Also, as for refunds on DL/UA, I always get until 11:59pm EST for DL next day to cancel (which I’ve done), whereas UA seems to be 24 hours from ticketing (unless that’s changed since I last flew them a year ago)….

  4. I purchased tickets in Feb. to take my kids to Sydney Australia this Christmas. These are non-refundable tickets, but my ex-husband refuses to provide permission to travel out of country with our children. Without notarized permission to travel with my children I can’t leave the country. I have read that American Airlines can offer refunds in extenuating circumstances. Is there anything I can do to get a refund? Please help – I’ll be out $7,000 thanks to my ex-husbands spitefulness!

  5. So what does 2 days in advance mean exactly? It is currently Wednesday at 6:30pm and I’ve got BOS to HKG in J on CX on hold with AA that I’m about to book that departs on Friday 2am. While definitely not 48 hours in advance of departure, it is technically two days in advance since it is currently Wednesday and the flight doesn’t leave till Friday? Will I be able to cancel within 24 hrs of ticketing this case? Thanks!

  6. Hello,
    I bought two airfares on to attend my mother’s funeral in France on my birthday 5/23/17. After a heated conversation with a family member, I decided to cancel my ticket. A few minutes later, another family member called asking me to reconsider, so I purchased another airfare for $100.00 more with the same itinerary. After thinking of unsuccessful bouts of conversation with those family members, I made the decision to cancel this ticket, too. Emotions were running high. The representative at refunded the first ticket, but another representative refused to fully refund $1,189 for the second ticket. A friend is graciously helping me obtain the partial refund ($525.00). However, a Senior Executive Representative named Ula, has still not answered my friend’s calls. She was supposed to e-mail me back and crosscheck around May 22 and I haven’t heard from her at all. She e-mailed me on May 21 stating she needed at least 12 hours to crosscheck! This week, I e-mailed her and told her my friend tried to reach her over the phone without avail. It is complete silence. By the way, this American Airlines ticket was non-refundable as well. Also, both tickets were canceled within hours of being purchased. I won’t take “no” for an answer as I am a persistent perspn by nature. My friend will keep trying to contact Ula. How long is a reasonable deadline to stop calling her and/or e-mailing Ula? What next steps do you recommend? Thank you for your advice.

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