American Will Finally Allow Refunds Within 24 Hours On Award Tickets

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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.


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10 Comments On "American Will Finally Allow Refunds Within 24 Hours On Award Tickets"

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I know I’m repeating a previous post, but so is your constant reminder that American has the worst award availability.
American usually has plenty of availability for the economy anytime seats. These seats will allow you to sit in economy plus seats without having to pay extra. So if you need the extra legroom, you are getting a better deal by choosing American anytime seat than by getting a seat from United for less miles that doesn’t include the extra legroom. And if United only has standard award seats available (25k one way), then for sure you should chose AA, because United does not include the bigger seats for free even when you spend 25k

dov bennish

if you book a delta award within 72 hours of flight u still have a day to cancel for free


Hard to logically say Doug Parker ruined US Air and American considering he took both airlines out of bankruptcy.


Regarding our previous discussion about jal…u mentioned in ur post about the 30% discount for buying starpoints that one of the uses can be for ek shower class milan to jfk “while Alaskan charges 360k rt jal charges just 100k rt”…..unless one way isn’t half the miles with jl ? But definitely shouldn’t be 90k like they said when i called ?(also i tried huca re availability and didn’t work….what number do u use ?


i Have used the AA anytime 20k from lax-jfk many times, its quite useful. Again, its very often 30k or more but have found 20k very often (and the 10 percent rebate is only 18k for 5 trips a year…)


Thanx yea crazy that they do that though. …it’s weird though i found availability on aa for that tlv ~dxb flight but the rep was only able to see the segments between amman and dxb not the tlv amman segment…..u have a good foreign num that has option for English?


Has there any response from AA about Toronto availability? Are there DOT guidelines that make clear what the airlines can’t do? Can the airlines say that award structure is the same there happens to be not one open in seat going anywhere for the next year?! I have tons of Avios for regular trips to YYZ and it’s now worthless!


“DoT started requiring that airlines either allow 24 hour free cancellations”
I just booked a ticket on Frontier. 15 minutes later I realized that I booked the wrong day. I called to cancel and they said that since the flight is within 7 days (3 days), I can cancel but cannot get a refund. The money will have to stay on my account and I need to use it within 90 days.
Is this legal?