American Airlines
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

American Airlines Eliminates Change Fees and Standby Fees Permanently — Plus…

Change fees have been eliminated on a permanent basis on all standard economy class tickets and premium class tickets for all domestic travel within the United States — which includes Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands but not including other territories of the United States — on all flights operated by American Airlines effective as of today, Monday, August 31, 2020; and no limit exists as to how many times customers adjust their flights…

American Airlines Eliminates Change Fees and Standby Fees Permanently — Plus…

American Airlines International Business Class between Bogota and Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

…but unlike the lead of United Airlines — which officially announced the elimination of change fees yesterday, Sunday, August 30, 2020 — change fees will also be eliminated on flights which are operated by American Airlines to and from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean region.

Basic Economy Tickets: Good News and Bad News

The exception is that passengers who purchase a Basic Economy ticket will still be required to pay a change fee of $200.00 for each change which is implemented — but if you have earned elite level status in the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program, you will be able to enjoy the benefits you have earned on Basic Economy tickets sometime later this fall, which include priority access, preferred boarding, upgrade privileges, elite seat privileges, and the ability to confirm a change in flight on the same day of travel…

…but Basic Economy tickets will no longer earn elite qualifying dollars, elite qualifying miles, or elite qualifying segments toward future elite level status in the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flier loyalty program effective as of Friday, January 1, 2021.

Other Policy Changes

American Airlines Santiago to Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

The waiver for new tickets issued through Thursday, December 31, 2020 is being extended by American Airlines to permit unlimited changes to tickets with no fee. This policy applies to all ticket types — including Basic Economy fares and award tickets — and it is valid for both domestic and international travel.

American Airlines will also allow customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their travel plans prior to the scheduled travel. Although customers will be required to pay the difference in the fare for a new flight, they will not lose the value of their ticket if the new flight is less expensive. For example, if a customer paid $500.00 for his or her flight and changes it to a flight which costs $300.00, American Airlines will give the customer a voucher worth $200.00 to use for a future trip.

Furthermore, customers will be able to fly on a standby basis for free for a different flight which departs on the day of their travel — regardless of the type of ticket or class of service — effective as of Thursday, October 1, 2020 as long as the request to change flights occurs no later than 30 minutes prior to departure for domestic flights and one hour before departure on international flights. This will allow customers to fly to their destinations earlier in the day in case their obligations end earlier than expected — or perhaps stay a few hours later than originally scheduled if they so choose.


American Airlines Santiago to Miami
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

“Do not be surprised if other airlines — such as Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — enact similar policies” is what I wrote yesterday in this article pertaining to United Airlines eliminating change fees in the United States.. I did not expect that the policies would change so soon after the announcement from United Airlines.

Free standby status for all passengers of American Airlines — as well as free same-day confirmed status for all Premier elite level members — is great news which marks a rare time that United Airlines has set a standard by taking the lead on a policy which is friendlier and more convenient to customers.

The elimination of change fees is not new in the commercial airline industry in the United States, however, as Southwest Airlines does not charge change fees to its customers as well.

I enjoyed both standby status and complimentary same-day status whenever I have earned elite status on an airline — and I applaud American Airlines in joining United Airlines for relaxing these policies for their customers…

…but remember that this is the same American Airlines at which ancillary fees continued to creep back as checked baggage fees for transatlantic flights between North America, Central America or South America and Europe increased by 25 percent from $60.00 to $75.00 on basic economy fares; and change and reinstatement fees have returned for select passengers effective as of Wednesday, July 1, 2020, with a new fee structure applying to changes implemented with fewer than 60 days before travel — and because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic which has decimated the travel industry in general and has airlines needing infusions of cash, do not be surprised if fees are increased in other areas of the operations of American Airlines.

All photographs ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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