New American Airlines Change Fee Waiver Suggests Leisure Travel May Return Soon

Back in April I wrote that airlines will continue to need to waive change fees. At the time United was only willing to waive fees for tickets purchased by April 30.

However there’s so much uncertainty now. Is air travel safe? Will states ‘opening up’ lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases? With there be a resurgence in the virus? Many people will simply skip trips, since they aren’t comfortable pulling the trigger on airfare. Or they’ll wait until much closer to departure to buy – at which point they might buy on a different airline.

So it doesn’t surprise me that American has extended its change fee waiver to travel booked by June 30, but there’s a twist.

  • American’s previous waiver, for new trips purchased by the end of May was “for all future travel, you can also change it a later date without change fees.”

  • Their new waiver, for trips purchased by the end of June is “for summer travel through Sept. 30, 2020.”

Any ticket purchased on or before June 30, 2020, for travel through Sept. 30, 2020, will not incur change fees prior to travel. Customers must pay any fare difference, if applicable, at time of ticketing of the new fare. Fare rules may apply depending on the ticket.

All AAdvantage® award tickets are included in this offer.

Customers are allowed to change their origin and destination cities as part of this offer.

Travel must be completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

The airline had been waiving change fees no matter when in the future travel was booked for. Going forward, for June, it’ll only be for up to a four month window.

  • Most bookings traditionally have been made within 90 days, though long haul travel is sometimes booked farther out.

  • Bookings farther out are generally for summer long haul and peak holiday periods.

  • The waiver still covers summer 2020 but won’t cover the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays or next summer.

American seems to be saying that the lull in travel, while to some extent long lasting, is likely to bounce back. That’s at least true for leisure travel, since business travel wouldn’t be booking past September anyway. At a minimum there’s some chance that they won’t need to offer flexibility indefinitely into the future, so they’d rather offer this a little bit at a time. That makes sense, from a certain point of view.

The good news of course is that the change fee waiver must be for initial travel by end of September, but date of travel can still be changed into 2021.

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. Are you still under the old waiver for trips booked by 5/31? Either if booked in the past, or booked between 5/27 and 5/31? Disappointing to see they are starting to chip away at the flexibility. I’ll likely book fall tickets with the likes of WN or B6. Also it looks like they took the old fee waiver down from the web site.

  2. It looks like the rules are different for award tickets booked from 6/1/20 forward. Miles can be redeposited for free if you cancel 60 or more days before departure. However, it seems to apply only to tickets booked for the person with the miles. Not sure whether there’s a cost for a second passenger in a ticket. Gary, can you look into these new rules?

  3. I received an offer from AA (lifetime Plat) for the “Airpass”. I am offered one of these for $5 K if I grab it before the end of June. This looks like prepaid airfare with a bunch of upgrades and other perks thrown in, for essentially loaning AA my $5 K until I am willing to fly them again. I do buy actual business class tickets from time to time, with actual money. So maybe this is a decent deal, but I cannot make out if, or whose, dick might be in this box.

    Any data on the Airpass would be welcome. I do not envision a trip thru the terms and conditions, since I ain’t flying anywhere until destinations start opening up to Americans and airlines stop fitting cabin crew out in hazmat suits. But I will spend $5 K with AA, if not this year than next. Good deal or throw it to the bottom feeders?

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