Whoa: American Allowing Name Changes On Tickets Through January 2022

As aviation insider JonNYC points out, American Airlines has created a ‘special exception policy’ to allow name changes on tickets through January 31, 2022.

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.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Gary- just so I understand, would partner award tickets booked with AA miles also qualify? E.g., a 001 ticketed trip with flights only on Qatar metal?

  2. @Chauney – No, this is going to be for revenue tickets involving AA travel [award tickets can already be cancelled/redeposited free and then reissued]

  3. @Gary –
    Probably a typo needing change: They often sell cheaper tickets far in advance and inexpensive tickets close to departure.
    Shouldn’t “inexpensive” read “expensive”?

  4. So someone with Platinum for example could book, use an SWU, then change to someone without status?

  5. Airlines should be ashamed of themselves for not allowing name changes on purchased tix. It’s just torturing the customers. Just charge a $100 fee and be done with it. Require the fee to be directly paid by the new pax via credit card on the airline’s website. That should take care of the ‘huge’ problem of selling tix … which is a ridiculous assumption anyway. For a spelling correction, charge $25 and let the pax correct it on the website. It’s time the airlines start playing nice and treating their customers well. Ever wonder where half the rage we see at airports and on airplanes originates? People are getting screwed by the airlines and they don’t like it. Think about it.

  6. I used to do this ticket transfer/name change thing a lot with SAS tickets. Surely, you must remember SAS’s OSL-PVG/PEK business class deal back when you were very active on FlyerTalk? That was a very popular time for FTers wanting to learn how this worked with SAS. 😀

    Airlines in the US have had to increasingly get into some name change games on ticketed PNRs during the last couple of years (and actually a bit earlier too). Why? Because the TSA’s “ID is security” nonsense has increasingly transformed into TSA employees machine-scanning ID for the TSA to try to figure out how to treat the passenger instead of just looking at and scanning the boarding pass and visually cross-checking the boarding pass against the presented passenger ID. If the TSA’s machine scanning of the ID doesn’t pull up the passenger’s booking info in part, the TSA increasingly often sends such passengers back to the check-in counters to get the airline to “fix” the name on the ticketed booking and reissue in a way so that the passenger can return to the screening checkpoint and have the machine scan of the ID show the TSA what the TSA wants to see for the passenger’s ticketed booking for the day.

  7. The smartest thing airlines can do is allow tickets to be re-sold, and then they get a portion of re-sale profit (like 15%) via a stubhub style site that is secure. I imagine some low cost carrier like RyanAir or WowAir will do this and then it will become common practice much like Basic Economy fares. If there was re-selling, the airline could still sell ancillary add-on products like baggage, seat assignments, etc, but they would be off the hook on actually filling the seats and they could always book a profit by selling to ticket wholesalers like Kayak, Stubhub, Expeida etc who have the “big data” to properly price tickets. Airline tickets are the only item where price goes up closer to perishability, which means it is not an efficient market.

  8. What if you already have a cancelled ticket and the original person didn’t have a FF number. Would I be able to sign them up for one now, and change that ticket into my name?

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