How to Save Hundreds of Dollars When Cancelling American AAdvantage Awards

Two years ago I wrote the Ultimate Guide to Booking Award Tickets Using American AAdvantage Miles. It’s basically still up to date, except for a subsequent award chart devaluation.

Tiffany writes a nice updated guide as well over at One Mile at a Time but there’s one piece that is worth clarifying and I didn’t point it out in my own guide two years ago but it can save you several hundred dollars.

Tiffany writes about cancelling award tickets and putting miles back in your account and says,

In order to redeposit an AAdvantage award ticket, American charges $150 for the first passenger, and $25 for each additional passenger on the same record locator.

In other words, if you need to redeposit an award ticket and have three people on the same record locator, you’d pay a total of $200 in cancellation fees, which is comparatively reasonable.

I always learn things from Tiffany’s posts. And I’d say that’s a good policy for a US airline, and an expensive policy compared to many foreign airline frequent flyer programs. However as I wrote back in March American’s cancel and redeposit policy is actually even better than this.

  • It’s $150 for the first passenger and $25 each additional passenger at the same time as long as all the miles are being reinstated to the same account.

  • So if you have 2 one way awards issued out of your account and cancel/redeposit both on the same call they should charge you just $175, not $300.

  • If you and a travel companion are on 4 separate one way awards issued out of your account and you redeposit all on the same call they should charge you just $225… not $600… even though these are all separate reservations.

Not every agent knows this. In fact probably most don’t. But it’s the rule,

The reinstatement charge is $150 per account for the first award ticket. Additional award tickets reinstated to the same account at the same time will have a $25 charge per ticket

I’ve helped readers get overcharged cancellation fees refunded because of this rule as well.

Remember though that while you can cancel an AAdvantage award ticket online, that doesn’t put miles back in your account. To redeposit an award you have to call.

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. thanks Gary – it would be good to update your 2015 post to include this, even if only to add a link. We often seek out these type of ‘Master Posts’ when planning an award booking to freshen up on the rules

  2. Wow, great post Gary. I did not realize that but that is potentially very advantageous for cancellations, especially when combined with the ability to change dates on award tickets for no fee as long as O&D remain unchanged. If you change plans and know you need to cancel, don’t – just push as far out as possible with the free date changes on award tickets. You’re then essentially getting $25 options to cancel other award bookings within the same timeframe. I like it.

  3. MattB that’s clever.

    Another trick is to wait for a schedule change which you may be able to reasonably assert doesn’t work for you. Then you can cancel for free.

    The only problem with all of this is that the award seats aren’t there in the first place!

  4. How much does it cost an executive platinum to redoposit the miles and refund the cost?

  5. Great post.  If you don’t know the rules, airlines will certainly try to charge you the max.  Canceling a vacation is bad enough… getting hit with overcharged fees is rubbing salt in the wound.

  6. Thanks Gary, that’s a very useful tip! Does this only apply to cancellation of an identical itinerary, or as long as the awards are cancelled at the SAME TIME, any extra awards qualify for $25 redeposit?

  7. 2020 data point…

    I called AA to cancel two one-way awards on QR and they tried to charge me two times the $150 redeposit fee for the miles– and this was two separate agents and a supervisor. Apparently they have some internal manual they use which says that the $150 + $25 is when you’re cancelling a second individual’s itinerary and redepositing all miles back to your account, and their view is that it should be two times the $150 if you’re cancelling two one ways for yourself– which is wrong and doesn’t go to the letter of their own website here:

    Where it states under “Reinstating flight awards”:

    “The reinstatement charge is $150 per account for the first award ticket. Additional award tickets reinstated to the same account at the same time will have a $25 charge per ticket.”

    Eventually I was able to convince them that their public website said one thing and they were trying to charge me another, so eventually the supervisor agreed to charge $150 + $25 only. But not until I put up a pretty big fight over it, so be prepared to reference the above website to the agents and supervisors if you can’t get them to come around otherwise.

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