American Airlines won’t charge change fees until 2021

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American Airlines recently announced that it won’t charge any change fees on flights for the rest of the year. With COVID-19 still very prevalent around the world, people are traveling far less, and many are still hesitant to book flights because of health reasons. While airlines work to accommodate passengers’ ever-changing plans, they’re putting in place policies to let customers book with peace of mind. 

With American Airlines’ updated policy, customers can hopefully feel comfortable booking a flight knowing that they can change or cancel it if they decide they can’t travel for any reason.

American Airlines is waiving change fees for flights taken through the end of the year.(Photo by CaseyMartin/Shutterstock.)

American Airlines extended change fee waiver

In light of COVID-19, airlines are drastically changing their policies to allow passengers the ability to book with flexibility in mind. American Airlines just extended its change fee waiver, allowing customers the ability to change their flights that are booked by Sept. 30, 2020 when traveling through Dec. 31, 2020. This policy is valid for any of American’s fares, including awards flights, and all you’re subject to pay is the difference in price for the new flight, should you choose to change.

If you choose to cancel, you’ll be issued a flight credit you can use to book later. Note that you’ll be locked in to flying with American with this credit and won’t be able to get a refund to your credit card. These flight credits expire 12 months from the date of issue.

Typically, American Airlines charges at least $200 to change or cancel a paid flight. If your original ticket is a nonrefundable fare, the fee is usually $200 for a domestic flight and up to $750 for an international flight. American’s Basic Economy tickets normally do not allow for changes at all, but in this case, you’ll have plenty of flexibility.

Award flights booked with American miles are a bit more lenient. American is waiving the award redeposit and change fees for flights booked through September 8 for any future travel (not just through the end of 2020). For flights booked from Sept. 8 to Sept. 30 you won’t have to pay change or redeposit fees for flights taken before December 31.

If you’re only changing the date or time for an award flight booked after Sept. 8 for travel in 2021, there’s no penalty if changed 60 days before departure. If you change the origin and/or destination city or cancel the flight, you’re subject to a $150 fee. Read here for full details on American’s award change policy.

How to change or cancel your American Airlines flight

Should you want to go ahead and change or cancel an American Airlines flight, you have the option to do so in your American AAdvantage account. Right now, you can change your flight with no penalty if you had planned to fly by Dec. 31, 2020. The process to do this is very easy and can all be done online. 

  • Go to the American Airlines website and click on Plan Travel at the top.
  • Select My Trips, which will show you your upcoming trips when you log in.
  • There should be an option to Change or Cancel.
  • Select the one you want to do and follow the prompts. If your flight was booked by Sept. 30, 2020, and scheduled to take place by Dec. 31, 2020, there won’t be an extra fee to change the flight. You’ll only be paying any difference in the cost of the flight. You can also cancel and rebook later, but you’ll need to call to rebook and have the information from your original flight handy. 

If you booked on a partner airline, you may not see your flight in your account, in which case, you might have to call the airline directly to inquire about changing or canceling the flight — change and cancellation policies vary with the partner your booking with. You can stay up to date on American Airlines’ ever-changing policies and procedures on its website.

How to take advantage of this policy

Thanks to American Airlines’ extended fee waiver, you can book your trip with confidence — provided you planned to travel before the end of the year. With things still being up in the air with COVID-19, it’s hard to predict how you might feel stepping on an airplane in just a few months. This fee waiver will allow you to change your flight or cancel with no fee (only once, though) and book again when you feel more comfortable.

With airline award availability wide open and cheap cash fares everywhere, if you find a good deal on American it may be worth booking now to lock in the low fare and cancel later if need be. With cash fares being low, you may also see cheaper than normal award pricing since American has moved some of its flights to dynamic pricing.

When you’re booking a flight with the new fee waiver in mind, you should also, of course, use the right credit card. Book with a travel credit card that will earn you bonus points on travel purchases, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which earns you 2X points on travel. You’ll also be better protected when booking with a credit card that offers travel and trip delay insurance. American Airlines credit card holders also get perks like free checked bags and priority boarding on American flights.

Bottom line

If you book a flight before Sept. 30, 2020, that’s scheduled to take place by the end of the year, you can change it or cancel it without paying a penalty. It’s a pretty sweet deal that gives you the confidence to go ahead and book, knowing you’re not stuck paying a huge fee if your plans change due to the unpredictable nature of the world we currently live in.

Hedy Phillips is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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