In many ways the American Airlines move to ‘trip credits’ and away from ‘flight credits’ has been great. When you have a travel credit with the airline you can use it for your own future travel – or to book travel for someone else.
The change has been a gradual one over several years, and American has implemented the next phase of the change: International Expansion – Phase 2. According to an internal document reviewed by View From The Wing,
What Trip Credits will now be issued for denied boarding compensation, cabin downgrades
and for residual refunds from a ticket exchange.
Airports in France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Guadeloupe, and Martinique will now have the ability to issue denied boarding compensation, cabin downgrades and residual amounts from a ticket exchange in the form of an electronic Trip Credit.
Not having to mail in paper vouchers, or ticket at the airport is great! Except that – and here’s the real kicker for international travel – “Airports and AA.com cannot redeem Trip Credits at international locations.” You have to deal with trip credits by phone for a handful of destinations.
Trip Credits have has a major drawback, as described by the airline’s website. Their validity has been limited:
- Domestic or international flights originating in the U.S. (U.S. currency only)
- Non-award bookings
- Can’t be used for extras like seats or bags
If you exchanged a ticket for a new one at a lower fare, you got a Trip Credit for the difference. You could use it for a one-way ticket from the U.S. to Japan, but not to fly from Japan to the U.S. This is not useful for a majority of American Airlines customers living outside the United States. Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja talks about the future of the airline as the largest domestic carrier, flying to partner hubs abroad, but American is still a global airline with global customers.
Fortunately American’s website turns out not to be up-to-date. Trip credits are now valid for some international cities. A spokesperson tells me,
Yes, we have started expanding Trip Credits to international locations (CA, BM, UK and EU plus Switzerland) which means customers residing in those countries receive Trip Credits and can also redeem them for travel via Reservations for those countries noted above and on aa.com for Canada and the UK when using the Canadian and UK versions of our website.
Trip credits are used for denied boarding compensation; cabin downgrade compensation; and ticket exchanges that result in a residual value. And they’ll be able to be used, finally, for some trips that originate outside the United States – but for now you’ll have to call American to do that.