American Coronavirus Copycats Alaska And JetBlue With A Strange New Offer

First JetBlue announced they would suspend cancellation fees on new tickets purchased through March 11 for travel completed by June 1. If you buy tickets and decide not to travel you can take the full value of the ticket and apply it towards a new one later, as long as you travel within a year of the original purchase. Then Alaska Airlines suspended change fees through March 11 for new ticket purchases.

Now American Airlines has come out with their own convoluted copycat of waiving change fees on new ticket purchases. It is simultaneously less generous and also more strategically useful.

  • Buy tickets by March 16
  • Those tickets will have no change fees up until 14 days prior to departure

Like Me You Might Find Yourself On An Empty Plane Thanks To Coronavirus Fears

This is only offered on new tickets. The tickets you already have don’t get coronavirus fee waivers unless there’s a specific waiver for your trip. What’s more, it’s reasonably likely that you’ll only know how advisable it is to fly within 14 days of your trip.

On the one hand this is far less generous than JetBlue’s offer (there are no such 14 day restrictions). It’s the exact opposite of Alaska’s offer which waives change fees for a short time.

Nevertheless you can buy tickets now – in the next two weeks – for up to 11 months in the future. Those tickets will have no change fees at all until much closer to departure. Tickets you’re reasonably likely to use should be ticketed right away, as long as you value American Airlines credit and can definitely travel within a year.

So why no change fee waivers within 14 days? American sees the change fee as crucial to their business model separating business fares from leisure fares. Their fare structure is all about charging business travelers more than leisure travelers for the same seat. And they need to keep their fares ‘gated’ in order to do this.

Nonetheless there’s one way in which this waiver undermine’s American’s fare structure: Basic economy fares should be changeable (“This is available for any of American’s published fares.”).

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. Is the flight in your picture the nonstop to Wuhan? That’s seriously empty.

  2. @mojo: thanks for proving everyone makes typos and we’re all imperfect. FFS. Lighten up. Peace.

    “Look out!! It’s the “Conravirus”

    “Look out! it’s the “Conarvirus”

    Let’s just appreciate Gary’s posts.

  3. @Tim-without specific language I wouldn’t assume that. Award redeposit fees are a cash cow for American. $150 or more for a few computer key strokes.

  4. “Conavirus” Is it a typo? When I read it, made me think the waiver policy is a .“Con”. “Con-avirus”.

  5. @Tim, my email, when I click through for details, says, “This policy excludes bookings through AAdvantage award tickets.” The email is titled “Purchase your flight with confidence”, not “book” with confidence. And it is only for purchased flights booked directly with AA. Gary has it right. This does provide some flexibility for booking paid flights speculatively for those who are sure they will be able to use the credit.

  6. Is this like southwest where you can change anytime but responsible for the change in fare? Or Can we book the cheapest fare for that route right now and as long as it’s the same routing in the future just change the dates with no fees or extra cost for the flight?

  7. “Tickets you’re reasonably likely to use should be ticketed right away, as long as you value American Airlines credit and can definitely travel within a year.” I may have missed it elsewhere in the article but do you say cancelling results in a credit rather than a refund?

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