This Isn’t Ending Soon: American Extends Change Fee Waiver Through May 31

Thursday morning I laid out the realistic pessimistic view that we aren’t going to see ‘normal’ again for quite some time, and that what we even think of as normal may shift.

One indication of this is that American Airlines has extended change fee waivers for passengers traveling through May 31.

  • Valid for tickets purchased prior to March 1
  • Requires travel by December 31.

Fares may be higher in the future, and fare increases to new itineraries do apply, but there’s a very good chance we’ll be seeing a lot of travel deals relative to higher fares.

By not extending the change fee waiver into the new calendar year they’re able to keep their breakage assumptions and valuation assumptions for outstanding credits in place going forward.

Customers also still have to use their credits within 12 months of original date of purchase. That’s a huge problem for people that booked their travel 11 months in advance. Many people will see their credits simply expire.

That’s one reason it is so important to bear in mind that if your flight is cancelled or itinerary substantially changed as a result of American’s scaling back of its schedule you’re entitled to a refund. Ask for it.

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. I’m in that boat with United. Telling me I have to use my tickets by May 6. I’m really hoping Congress takes an extremely hard line with the airlines on the bailouts. They clearly do not deserve them. If I don’t see major strings attached that require them to bail out their customers as well – I there needs to be a major outcry.

  2. Rest assured that any and all changes that American, Delta, United, etc. make, are designed to help themselves weather the Wuhan Storm, not to help the public. Just as soon as they think they can tighten the screws they will.

  3. Gary, just want to say thank you for the work you do. You are one of the most reliable sources for information. Stay safe.

  4. @Gary – I was supposed to fly to Las Vegas on AA for a convention in about a week on pretty pricey tickets. I booked the tickets in December through Amex on my Amex business platinum card for 5x points. The convention was cancelled and now I have no desire to visit Las Vegas this year. The tickets are nonrefundable but I’m willing to take a credit to use later. If I understand the situation correctly, AA will only allow rebooking to Las Vegas. What would you suggest?

  5. @Gary – Thanks for the response. Can I get a voucher, since I don’t have dates yet?

  6. While I am glad to see AA extend the change fee waiver to the end of May, I think it is completely wrong to assume this is at all predictive of when the virus scare recedes. I think it quite reasonable to think that the economic/flying recovery — which undoubtedly will be slow to start — could begin in about a month. I think most of the country will be feeling optimistic by the end of May.

  7. My family and I had been scheduled on AA to go to Belize in April. The itinerary is still in my account (and I can choose seats, etc) but if I try to book the exact same flights now it says it is not possible. So for all intents and purposes, it appears the flight is cancelled, even if I haven’t received official word. I have been waiting for the cancellation to be able to ask for the refund and not the credits — is there a particular moment when the flight will be officially cancelled?

  8. We have tickets to Jamaica for May 2nd via AA. Jamaica has now shut its borders, and it’s totally iffy as to when they’ll open them. (I doubt they even know.) Quite frankly, travelling within the next few months for a non-essential trip feels irresponsible. Yet, if we don’t take that flight (which may not even be flying), we’ll have to pay $200/each to change our tickets to another date. Any advice except to eat the $200/person?

  9. I had to cancel an AA flight from NY to Chicago (for today, actually) for my daughter. Ticket was nonrefundable, but an AA supervisor said that we’d get a transferable voucher — yet the email we received says my daughter must be the one to re-book. I was hoping to switch it to another flight we expect for my other daughter in late May (if that’s even available) or mid-August. Any chance AA will allow that?

  10. Right now, only Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela are the only Caribbean coast countries that are not allowed to change tickets free of charge. What’s that about?

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