American Airlines has implemented a special exception policy to our travel partners that is now available to allow our mutual customers the freedom of a name change on eligible tickets. This special exception policy on American is available when ticketed on AA Prime or AA*(codeshare) and exchanging to AA Prime only.
- It has to be a completely unused American Airlines (001) ticket (the itinerary hasn’t started) with an American Airlines or American codeshare flight.
- Non-changeable Basic Economy tickets are not eligible.
- While there’s no limitation on travel dates, ticket exchange must happen by January 31, 2022
- If you do more than change the name – if you change the itinerary – then of course that’ll require repricing the ticket.
In order to take advantage of this, both the person whose name the original ticket is in and the person whose name it’s being swapped for must be AAdvantage members (they can join any time prior to making the name change). Only one name change is allowed per ticket.
JonNYC suggests this is related to the transition from Flight Credits to Trip Credits. When you cancel a ticket and receive a Trip Credit, you can use the value of the ticket for someone else to travel anyway. At a minimum this seems to allow anyone who’d receive a flight credit (non-transferrable) to have the transferability benefit of trip credits.
Airlines have only very rarely allowed name changes on tickets because they don’t want tickets to be resold. They often sell cheaper tickets far in advance and expensive tickets close to departure. If name changes were allowed someone could resell the ticket and pocket the difference in fare. And resellers could undercut American’s pricing power. They also didn’t want travelers booking too early to lock in a low fare and unloading the ticket later if they couldn’t go, rather than paying up at the last minute. The end of change fees on most fares mitigates this issue.
Early in its life JetBlue allowed name changes for $25. Star Alliance member SAS allowed them with a certification travel was for personal, rather than business, reasons. But these have very much been the exceptions.