American Hasn’t Actually Introduced New Restrictions on Same Day Changes (or Standby)

On Sunday I wrote about seemingly new restrictions to American’s same day change policies.

Customers using Same-Day Flight Change may only change to earlier or later flights that have the same routing, number of connections, and cannot change to a co-terminal in a multi city airport.

I highlighted the piece about requiring the same routing — for instance you can’t change a connection in Dallas to one in Chicago.

As far as I know this was new language not previously on the American website, and it’s certainly not how things have worked in the past — American agents have always been willing to change connecting cities.

This Isn’t Actually a New Policy – Just One That Hasn’t Been Enforced By Agents

I spoke with American about the website language, and what I learned is that this was already ‘the rule’ and in fact that the website and kiosks supposedly enforced it, but that agents regularly didn’t.

So calling up an agent is likely to still get a new connecting city. It may even let you change from a connecting flight to a non-stop (or vice versa). And it may let you fly to a different (co-terminal) airport, e.g. LaGuardia/New York JFK, Washington Dulles/National, Houston Intercontinental/Hobby.

And my advice is that if one American agent doesn’t let you, the next one very well still might.

No New Restrictions on Same Day Standby

Several readers asked about new restrictions for flying standby. Indeed, it did appear on the website that elites were no longer allowed to standby for a later flight — only an earlier one.

We continue to offer the same-day stand by option for an earlier domestic flight for select customers at no charge, and the same-day standby option is available to all customers online at

I asked American about this and they let me know that the language would be clarified.

There has been no change in our standby policy – regular AAdvantage members have only had the option to standby for an earlier flight whereas elites can standby for earlier or later.

And indeed, the confusing language is gone from the website!

No Changes to American Policies Have Been Made

There haven’t been any changes to American policies for standby or same day confirmed. American just appears to be clearer on what official policy for same day confirmed changes is, but that’s something which isn’t always enforced by agents — and my guess is still won’t be uniformly enforced by agents.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I am glad you posted this. I was alarmed by the “same routing” rule for SDC. Yesterday I had an EXP agent with >25 years experience on the line for an unrelated matter and I asked her to verify.
    She looked up the rules and read them to me almost verbatim. She did not see anything about preserving the same routing and agreed that it would defeat the purpose of many SDC to avoid weather at a particular hub, etc.
    Not sure if this is agent dependent but I sure hope we can continue to change routing. Otherwise what’s the point?

  2. @Golfingboy – right, as I said this was new on the website.

    And indeed info did just go out to agents, intention was to remind them of the rules.

    That’s why it looked like this was new.

    Of course AAgents can still make changes in native Sabre without regard to these rules.

  3. is this calendar day or 24 hours? ie i have an early sat morning flight can I pay the 75$ to get a seat on the last flight of the night friday night assuming seats are available?

  4. “Of course AAgents can still make changes in native Sabre without regard to these rules.”

    Until October or so, when AAgents will switch to the QIK overlay and lose native Sabre access. One of the reasons given is to prevent loss of revenue.

  5. Carl US Airways agents will be on boarded with the new overlay and won’t be given native Sabre. Legacy American agents at least at a certain level should retain native Sabre.

  6. Thank you for this update. I was about ready to jump ship since most of the time when I MoveUp, it involves changing hubs. I’ve been looking forward to more flexibility with additional hub options after Oct 16, not fewer. I’ve noted in the past that the website only seems to show same-day change options involving the same hub, and I had reported that as a bug to multiple AAgents. They always seemed surprised to hear that, as their system clearly showed multiple choices.

  7. Gary, slightly OT, does EQM mileage accrue with original routing, or the new routing? i.e., as an EP, can I book circuitously and then fly directly and retain my mileage? (Seems like everybody wins)

  8. @ed generally you earn miles based on flights flown, although during irregular operations I’ve written in to request “original routing credit” such as when a flight was cancelled but I wanted miles for it anyway

  9. Gary, it appears they’ve now added, yes added, the restriction for elites as well to the STAND-BY option. No more co-terminal airports according to updated Ts&Cs. They may have just recently removed the connections restriction from either or both. Could you ask when they made the change to STAND-BY for elites?

  10. Does the standby policy for EXPs require the exact routing to stay the same? I thought that was just for confirmed SDC. I went to the airport at 5am to standby for a much earlier flight home after a work cancellation, but was denied saying I couldn’t standby for a different routing (even though it was just a different connection and not moving to a non-stop flight). Twitter support and the EXP desk both confirmed I should be able to standby onto the flights I wanted, but the airport wouldn’t let me. And because flights through ORD were oversold, I waited 11 hours at GRR (not a good airport to be stuck at; no Admirals Club) until I could finally get on a flight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *