American Airlines Is Expanding Use Of Trip Credits, Now Valid For Some International Destinations

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Aren’t you entitled to cash if you are denied boarding? If so, it makes no sense to accept a trip credit.

    Or is that only for flight originating from the U.S.?

  2. I had this very issue with AA just yesterday trying to use a high-dollar flight credit, for a new ticket originating outside the US (flight credits can be used for originating outside the US), that had inexplicably been changed over to a trip credit.

    After initially being told by the agent that Trip Credits can originate only in the US, she researched it further and told me that with the International Expansion trip credits can now be used for flights originating elsewhere, including Canada, UK, Bermuda, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Switzerland, and some Eurozone countries (not all EU)–specifically Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. So this is different from the ‘all EU’ implied by the spokesperson quoted in this article.

    Meanwhile, as for Canada, after the agent took the time to research and provide me all this new information, I asked her to book an international ticket for me from YUL with my trip credits, which she proceeded to do only to then discover (to our mutual surprise), that evidently trip credits can be used originating in Canada only from YYZ and no other airports! How could that be true?!? But I had no choice but to take the agent’s word for it.

    I’ve since tried using trip credits to book on aa.com for tickets originating in Finland and Italy (among the Expansion countries the agent named), and the Trip Credit option is not offered whether I try it on aa.com’s US site or aa.com for those countries (which appear to be on the old Amadeus system judging by the web address, and lack an option to login with an AAdvantage number).

    So I’m going to have to put a non-US-origin reservation on hold via aa.com US (thank heavens they restored that functionality), and then call AA again and work with the agent to make sense of how to ticket it with my Trip Credits. I have a hunch I’ll have to explain this International Expansion Phase 2 to them myself. So, some questions:

    Can it really be that Canada tickets have to originate only in YYZ in order to use Trip Credits? Will they be adding more countries to the list of eligible origins (and if so then when)? Can we actually book non-US-origin tickets online, using Trip Credits (and if so then how)? These mysteries might be entertaining if only my high-dollar flight credit wasn’t caught up in the lurch. Can anyone please shed some light here?

  3. Has anyone else seen their flight credits just disappear from their wallet with this move to trip credits?

  4. I booked tickets two weeks ago via phone on AA with origination in Italy and they said my trip credit could not be used. Do you know exactly when this policy changed?

  5. To Larry’s question, my impression from speaking with the agent earlier this week is that this supposedly expanded list of origin countries eligible for Trip Credits is a very recent development, perhaps more recent than two weeks ago. I could tell she was a fairly experience (or at least well-trained) agent and this Expansion was news to her. She actually took the time to research it and educate herself. We laughed that the next time I call, I should not assume the next agent knows anything about this. So either this is a brand-new policy or it’s being poorly rolled out to the agents who need this information the most.

  6. Two more interesting tidbits: the Canadian aa.com website offers AAdvantage login, but did not offer the Trip Credit payment option for a flight originating in either YUL or YYZ. Meanwhile, the UK aa.com website, which also offers AAdvantage login, DID offer the Trip Credit payment option on a flight originating in either LHR or EDI, both on AA equipment and on code-shared BA equipment. It did not offer Trip Credit payment for a flight originating in one of the other “Expansion” origin countries, however.

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