American’s 24 Hour Refund Policy Now More Generous

Last year American switched to offer 24 hour refunds when purchasing travel a week or more in advance and eliminated 24 hour holds (24 hour holds are often still available on their website though not always and American has said this will eventually disappear).

American has been less generous than Delta or United who allow 24 hour refunds regardless of how far in advance you book travel. The Department of Transportation only requires offering 24 holds or refunds for travel purchased a week or more in advance.

Last year American went from the most generous policy to the least generous one, complying only with the minimum DOT standards.

American’s policy for tickets purchased online or by phone wasn’t even competitive with some online travel agencies selling American Airlines tickets.

Last month American loosened its policy to allow 24 hour refunds as long as you purchase 2 days prior to travel instead of requiring 7 day advance purchase.

There’s now more information about American’s 24 hour refunds with at least 2 day advance purchase via JonNYC:

AA is now offering the 24-hour refund and change fee grace period for tickets issued at least 2 days prior to departure.

Tickets cancelled within this window will now be automatically refunded; filing a separate refund request is no longer required (this does not apply to tickets purchased via third parties).

Award bookings can also be cancelled and the miles reinstated without penalty within 24 hours of booking if booked at least 2 days in advance.

Here are the two things we learn:

  1. the policy explicitly now applies to award tickets and not just revenue tickets
  2. there’s no longer a two step cancel/request refund process

I still prefer holds over refunds. It makes things far easier to piece together itineraries online and then make whatever changes the website doesn’t allow over the phone. It is more time consuming and error-prone to have to build complicated itineraries with agents over the phone.

At the same time, holds didn’t used to be available 2 days prior to travel but refunds now are. I’m glad to see a customer-friendly move from American, even if their policy is still less generous than either Delta’s or United’s.

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. This has been going on for at least a few weeks. I booked an award ticket to SAP for my sister in mid June using my AA points. The departure date was set to be 3 days after the award purchase date. i was able to put the award on hold and purchase later.

  2. I have a very bad view of American’s policy on this in operation. Purchased a fare with a gift certificate and cancelled it in a few hours as I had a conflict come up. Applied for refund. Four weeks later, after emails back and forth, etc., I got *-a travel voucher-* instead of a refund to my gift card, and they’d deducted a $100 fee from it!

    Be damned if I want one of these paper carts that requires a trip to the airport to use, and what about the $100 penalty? I requested a refund well within 24 hours—- EXP line sez no, this is right— no refunds to gift cards, and $100 is the cancellation fee. That’s just plain wrong. Inquiry to Customer Relations is next, as the EXP agent clearly didn’t know what she was saying.

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