Not too long ago all airlines allowed for generous hold times on award tickets.
That went away on several airlines when the DoT started requiring that airlines either allow 24 hour free cancellations or a free hold.
American held out and continued to offer free holds but they didn’t allow refunds after an award was ticketed.
Some people were surprised when they booked an award that they would have to pay $150 to cancel it even if they changed their mind an hour later.
Effective immediately, you can refund award and paid tickets booked through American within 24 hours of booking, as long as you originally booked the ticket at least 2 days before the flight.
Refunds will also now be processed on the spot instead of having to file another refund form.
That’s not as generous as United’s policy, which allows you to cancel an award even if it’s booked within 2 days of the flight, but it’s better than Delta’s policy which requires awards to be cancelled more than 72 hours before a flight.
For now you can still hold American award tickets, but we’ll see how long that sticks around.
Of course on revenue tickets you can always book on Priceline and receive a refund until 11:29pm EST the day after booking and that works even if you book a ticket within 2 days of a flight.
I’m sure someone will joke that this policy is pointless as American’s award availability is now by far the worst in the industry. CEO Doug Parker of America West fame took over USAirways and then took over American, ruining both airlines in the process. Before the merger you could use saver miles to fly from NYC to Toronto every day. Now there isn’t a single saver award seat from NYC to Toronto until 2018!
However this new policy is also good for awards booked with AA miles for travel on AA partners, which often have better award space than American does for their own flights. Many partners such as Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, JAL, LATAM, Qatar, and more can only be booked over the phone.
Many Oneworld flights are cheaper when booked with BA Avios and BA allows refunds up until 24 hours before the flight. Plus there are no close-in booking fees with BA Avios. However using American miles can be much cheaper than Avios for many international flights as American only charges heavy fuel surcharges when flying on British Airways flights, while BA Avios have heavy fuel surcharges for many more transcontinental flights. It’s always important to compare the total miles and fees charges by various partner airlines before transferring miles and booking award tickets.