American Airlines has always been one of my favorite miles program to use for award bookings because of their more understanding award change and cancellation fees policy compared to other US mileage programs out there. While the policy lasted for quite a long time, American Airlines now decided to make some changes to their award fees policy. 

Depending on how you look at it, the change can be good and bad, but overall I feel that the new policy is not too awfully bad to accept. 

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    American Airlines Old Award Change and Cancellation Fees

    American Airlines doesn’t charge for award tickets change fee as long as the origin and destination remain the same. You can change date, time, connecting city, airlines, etc. at no cost. You can make unlimited changes and it does not even matter if it was 6 months, 2 months or several hours before departure.

    However, with the exception of AA Executive Platinum members, any cancellation for miles reinstatement including any changes made to the origin and destination, award type such as downgrading from higher class to lower class cabin would result in a fee of $150 for the first passenger on the itinerary and $25 for each additional passenger. 

    New American Airlines Award Change and Cancellation Fees

    American Airlines is making changes to award change and cancellation fees policy based on your elite status and ticket's booking time period before flight’s departure time. See below:

    Elite Status Change made 60 days or more before travel At least 7 days, but fewer than 60 days before travel Fewer than 7 days before travel
    Executive Platinum  $0 $0 $0
    Platinum Pro $0 $50 $75
    Platinum $0 $75 $100
    Gold $0 $100 $125
    Regular member $0 $125 $150

    Depending on how you look at the new American Airlines award fees policy, there are positive and negative things behind it. 

    American Airlines Positive New Award Fees

    • Free Change: You can change award tickets at no cost 60 days before travel. It does not matter what types of change you want to make. Whereas before, you would be charged if you change origin & destination after 24 hours and after the award ticket is confirmed. 
    • Free Cancellation: You can cancel award tickets and redeposit miles into your account at no cost as long as your request is made 60 days before departure. Before, after 24 hours you cannot cancel without a fee after the award ticket is confirmed. 
    • Web Special Awards: AA has been rolling out web special awards that offer significant discount on award miles tickets. Those tickets are not changeable or cancellable, but with the new policy, those tickets can be changed or cancelled free of charge as long as the request to change or cancel is made 60 days before travel. 
    • Reduced Award Fee: If you are flying alone most of the time and have no status with American Airlines, the change and cancellation fee is reduced from $150 to $125. If you have elite status, the fee is reduced substantially. 
    • Free Class Upgrade: Upgrading using more miles to a higher class cabin on the same award flight continue to not have any fees even within the 60 days window. This is the same as the old policy.
    • Free 24 Hours: Cancellations of the original ticket purchased 2 or more days before departure will continue to have up to 24 hours for a full ticket refund including mileage reinstatement.

    American Airlines Negative New Award Fees

    • Multiple Passengers: Family travelers are going to pay a lot of fees to change or cancel an award ticket within 60 days of departure. If you do not have elite status, the change or cancellation fee is $125 per passenger. Whereas before, the first passenger pays $150 and each additional passenger on the same itinerary only pays $25. 
    • Award Change Fee: If you settle for an award ticket that may have insane connecting time or have bad departure and arriving time, you can no longer make changes free of charge even if you keep the origin and destination the same. Any changes within 60 days before travel will incur fees.
    • Award Cancellation Fee: If you cancel an award ticket within 60 days before travel and have miles redeposited, you will be charged for a mileage reinstatement fee per passenger on the itinerary. The mileage reinstatement fee is the same as award change fee. 
    • Upgrade Award: If you use miles to upgrade a cash ticket, any cancellation that results in miles reinstatement will incur a fee of $150 per account for the first ticket and $25 for each additional ticket on the same itinerary. You also forfeit any non-refundable co-payment used to upgrade. 

    When New AA AAdvantage Award Fees Policy Takes Place

    American Airlines new award fees change applies to any award reservation that is made on or after July 1, 2020.

    My Two Cents

    I personally feel that the new American Airlines award fees policy is not awfully bad and it is still fair compared to other US mileage programs out there. I appreciate that now we can make any changes and even request cancellation to have miles redeposited at no cost 60 days before travel. On the other hand, everyone’s traveling situation is very different. The new policy is going to hurt those that travel with multiple passengers the most as the new change fee is charged per passenger and based on elite status. But all in all, I can only think of more positive things to talk about AA award fees change than negative ones. 

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