American Airlines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…

Effective immediately, American Airlines has eliminated change fees for all long-haul international flying when travel originates in North America or South America — and this new policy includes passengers who purchased tickets with First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Main Cabin fares — which matches the previous announcement from American Airlines to get rid of change fees on most domestic and short-haul international flights

American Airlines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…

American Airlines

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…but the new policy does not include Basic Economy fares, with which change fees will still exist; and it also does not seem to include travel which originates elsewhere in the world other than in North America or South America.

This means that American Airlines allows you to keep the full value of eligible tickets if you change your travel plans prior to your scheduled travel. Although you will be required to pay the fare difference for a new flight, you will not lose the value of your ticket if the new flight is less expensive.

…The Permanent Elimination of Service Charges

Source: American Airlines.

You will no longer pay a service charge when booking a ticket through the reservations department of American Airlines — even after the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic subsides, for which the service charge had been temporarily waived. This means that service charges — such as a fee of $35.00 for booking a ticket or award flight with a customer service representative via the telephone — have been eliminated permanently.

That leaves American Airlines with arguably the best choice of international destinations of all of the airlines which have announced the elimination of change fees, according to the following chart, which has also been updated in this article which compares fees at a glance between Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines — along with links to the sources with additional information, where applicable — for your convenience.

Policy Change
Alaska Airlines
American Airlines
Delta Air Lines
Hawaiian Airlines
United Airlines
Immediate Elimination of Change Fee on Domestic Flights Complimentary for all passengers — except $125.00 for Saver fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except starting at $30.00 for Main Cabin Basic fare tickets Complimentary for all passengers — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets
Change Fee on International Flights Complimentary for all tickets — except $125.00 for Saver fare tickets — to Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica Complimentary for all tickets — except $200.00 for Basic Economy fare tickets and flights which originate outside of North America and South America Complimentary for select refundable tickets — otherwise, between $200.00 and $500.00 per ticket
Complimentary for all tickets — except at $150.00 for Main Cabin Basic fare tickets — to Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, and Tahiti Complimentary for Mexico and the Caribbean; and for select refundable tickets — otherwise, starting at $200.00 per ticket
Fee to Stand By for a Different Flight on the Same Day Complimentary for refundable tickets; Mileage Plan members who earned MVP Gold elite level status; or nonstop flights between Anchorage and Fairbanks, Seattle and Portland, and Seattle and Spokane Fee eliminated effective as of Thursday, October 1, 2020 Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for SkyMiles members who earned Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion elite level status Standby travel is not permitted within the state of Hawaii — otherwise, fees start at $30.00 for inter-island travel within Hawaii; and $150.00 to all other destinations Fee eliminated effective as of Friday, January 1, 2021
Fee for Confirmed Change to a Different Flight on the Same Day Fees start at $25.00 for select shuttle flights and $50.00 for all other flights Fee eliminated effective as of Thursday, October 1, 2020 Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for SkyMiles members who earned Diamond, Platinum, or Gold Medallion elite level status
Details not announced as of yet Fees start at $75.00 — otherwise, complimentary for MileagePlus members who earned 1K, Platinum, or Gold Premier elite level status
If the new paid fare is less expensive after successfully changing flights on the ticket… The difference in the fare is preserved for a future flight The difference in the fare is preserved for a future flight Details not announced as of yet The difference in the fare is lost and cannot be recovered
The difference in the fare is lost and cannot be recovered
Fee for changing award tickets issued after Thursday, December 31, 2020 Waived for all flights on all routes Waived for all flights on all routes Details not announced as of yet Waived for all flights on all routes Waived for travel within all 50 states of the United States, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands
Fee for canceling awards and redepositing miles after Thursday, December 31, 2020 Details not announced as of yet Fee eliminated effective as of Wednesday, November 11, 2020 Details not announced as of yet
Starting at $30.00 for inter-island travel within Hawaii; and $150.00 to all other destinations Waived for travel greater than 30 days out

Summary

Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines — enact similar policies to those which were recently announced from American Airlines.

Lastly, I do want you to remember this statement from a quote attributed to Vasu Raja, who is the chief revenue officer for American Airlines:

“We are committed to making travel easier for our customers who fly on American. By eliminating change fees, we’re giving customers more flexibility no matter when or where they plan to travel.”

Seriously? We had to experience a worldwide pandemic to teach you that flexibility in travel is key for customers? I could have told you that years ago. Where were you when customers were complaining about increasingly restrictive policies coupled with ancillary fees which were designed to increase revenue as the top priority?

Perhaps I am being unreasonably skeptical; but I am curious to see how that statement holds up long after the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has subsided and has been officially declared as ended…

All photographs ©2015 and ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “American Airlines Eliminates ALL Change Fees — Well…ALMOST All…Plus…”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    Not to be a smart butt but it would be an interesting graphic to show Southwest, Allegiant, JetBlue, etc. on this chart.

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