American Airlines Becomes More Flexible Rebooking Passengers On Other Airlines During Delays

When things go wrong with an airline’s operation most carriers have “interline agreements” that let them put their passengers on another airline’s flights. However in 2018 American Airlines decided it was too expensive to put passengers on other airlines when they cancelled their own flights. So coach passengers without elite status would no longer be placed on other airlines in the event of irregular operations. If American’s operation had problems, passengers would just wait for another American Airlines flight, just like if they were flying Spirit.

Other airline reaccommodaiton became an elite and premium cabin benefit. Since then American loosened the policy a bit. And they’ve recently updated their policy again to account for their relationship with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue. Those two airlines stand between how American treats rerouting on international joint venture partners and how they treat putting passegners on other partners in oneworld and non-oneworld partners.

  • Platinum Pro elites and above, and long haul business and first class passengers, can be reaccommodated on airlines that aren’t Aemrican Airlines partners.

  • Other elites and short haul premium cabin passengers can only be reaccommodated on oneworld and non-partner airlines when facing a delay of over 5 hours.

  • Non-elites in coach can only be reaccommodated on JetBlue or Alaska when facing a delay over 5 hours, and oneworld and non-partner airlines when the delay is more than 24 hours.

There’s an ability for American Airlines agents to make exceptions to this policy, and these are important for passengers without status flying coach to know about and ask for. Say you’re flying to a funeral, for surgery, or to start a cruise!

Exceptions to the timeframe may apply to UMNRs, customers with disabilities, military on orders, no hotel availability, EC261 customers, or scenarios where a customer is travelling to a funeral, surgery, starting a cruise, etc.

There are a couple of caveats to be aware of here as well. American will not put you on another airline if you’re traveling to or from Cuba. And you can’t be double booked – having more than one trip in your reservation at the same time. They only allow this for Executive Platinum and ConciergeKey members.

In fact this is my favorite benefit of Executive Platinum status. I can get American to add segments to my reservation during irregular operations. If it looks like I might misconnect, they’ll give me backup flights rather than making me change flights. That lets me grab the next flight before space runs out, but still try to make it on the one I’m scheduled to fly. I can also add an earlier connection that I might make if I’m landing early without giving up the flight I’m on. Several times I’ve direct messaged American on twitter and had them add that earlier flight to my itinerary while I’m in the air, even when there’s just a seat or two left on it.

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. An article about which airlines do use their interline agreements for non-elites would be useful. Does that leave Alaska, Hawaiian, United, and Delta???

  2. Isn’t it stunning that AA has deemed it “to expensive” to take care of their coach customers who put their faith and money in AA to start with?

  3. Gary Leff writes, “Other elites and short-haul premium cabin passengers can only be reaccommodated on oneworld and non-partner airlines when facing a delay of over 5 hours. Non-elites in coach can only be reaccommodated on JetBlue or Alaska when facing a delay over 5 hours, and oneworld and non-partner airlines when the delay is more than 24 hours.”

    Clear and concise corporate communications with American Airlines passengers are essential. Therefore, when screwing over American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum, AAdvantage Gold, and non-elite passengers with flight delays of 5 hours or 24 hours or more, to help promote transparency, agents should begin the customer dialog by saying, “We apologize. It sucks to be you today trying to depart on American Airlines. However, we have good news. Since you are a non-elite member who attempted to book travel in the main cabin, we have reserved a red eye flight on Spirit Airlines to your destination from Philadelphia in two days. Unfortunately, non-elites are not worthy of adequate service. But, you can camp out and sleep overnight anywhere on the floor at the Spirit Airlines departure gate over in terminal D. Enjoy your next flight and thanks for booking your travel with American Airlines.”

  4. @Daniel, definitely not. They have no interline agreements and will only put you on their own flights. Their point-to-point, low frequency operation means one cancellation can strand hundreds of passengers for days unless they’re willing to find alternate flights at their own expense.

  5. Funny how this hits home today.

    I was supposed to be AA DEN – DFW – EWR, but with DFW-EWR canceled due to weather, I’m on JetBlue direct DEN-EWR.

    However the gate agent was trying multiple airlines, multiple connections to see how they could get me there the fastest.

    Which is nice.

    (AA EP)

  6. I was denied Jet Blue mint when they cancelled my flight LAX-BOS permanently. I had to take a connection. They specifically said only JV partners. They reacommodated me on an earlier flight, but my wife was also in Flagship, but on a separate itinerary, and they put her on a connecting flight (this was in March). I am Plat Pro, she didn’t have status (but I see flagship is listed along with Plat Pro). Our records were cross referenced, that didnt stop them from putting us on separate flights.

    So was this counter the rules in March or was this applicable then. I specifically asked for Jet Blue.

  7. Exactly why it is always important to mention any sort of disability you’ve got.

  8. As for Spirit, a friend was supposed to fly DTW-LAS and their flight was cancelled. They ended up being shifted to a non-stop DL flight.

    What’s interesting is that the DL flight was originally scheduled as an A321 but somehow got upgauged to a 763. I’m guessing Spirit pulled a few strings to make that happen.

  9. @Liam – There is no way Spirit “convinced” Delta to up gauge a flight for its purposes. There are large down-the-line consequences that would have to be taken into consideration. DL used the aircraft where they saw fit for the totality of its operations.

  10. In any event…

    I experienced an IROPS on United the other day where a LAX-IAD flight operated by a Polaris 772 (UA 1635) was delayed by enough time that I would misconnect.

    At first, they gave me a very hard time when I asked to be reaccommodated on AC 788. First they said no because I had a P class ticket and there was no P class available on the AC flight – at that point only J class was available. Not sure how that was relevant given it was actually a controllable delay according to them.

    They offered to put me in Y on AC 788, but I said no to that – or in J on a 737-900 to either Houston or Chicago and then on to YYZ (uhhhh…NO! Those 900s have terrible seats up front – the older 738s actually have pretty good seating up front)

    I basically thanked the rude airport team lead for nothing, and just as I was calling the virtual airport agent back to get me a hotel room near IAD for the night, I suddenly get a text message saying I’ve been rebooked on AC 788 – and in J class. Who knows if it was them or if it was somebody else working in the background, but hey I got what I wanted!

    After all these nos, what I think did it was the “DPNA” code on my reservation.

    Ill admit I also had a bit of a laugh when I realized that AC 788 was actually operated by a very fitting equipment type – a 788.

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