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Guide to changing or canceling American Airlines flights


Planning a vacation can take a tremendous amount of time and energy. When things go wrong, and you need to change or cancel your plans, will it be easy to do so?

Thankfully, changing and canceling American Airlines flights is incredibly easy. Over the past few years, the airline has eliminated most of the fees associated with changing or canceling many types of tickets.

In this guide, we’ll help you better understand American Airlines’ cancellation policy, change policy and refund policy.

American Airlines’ cancellation policy


If you purchased your ticket directly, American Airlines’ cancellation policy is pretty straightforward. There are a few key points to consider:

As you can see, the current American Airlines cancellation policy is extremely customer-friendly. Except for basic economy and some tickets that originate outside of North and South America, you won’t have to worry about jumping through hoops or losing the entire value of your ticket. Also, when changing a nonrefundable ticket, you’ll receive a travel credit for any reduction in fare. For example, if you change from a $500 ticket to a $300 ticket, you’ll receive a travel voucher for $200 to use on a future ticket.

To dive into the basic economy flight cancellation policy, you can now cancel a basic economy fare. Previously, these fare types could not be changed. But, there are some caveats to be aware of. Firstly, you must be an AAdvantage member — and your number must be tied to your reservation. You also must have booked directly with American Airlines, be flying on an American Airlines-marketed and -operated flight, and be traveling within the 50 U.S. states. While you’ll receive the the refund in the form of a travel credit, there’s a cancellation fee of $99. This means if your flight costs $200, you’ll end up with a credit of $101.

Additionally, there are a few different expiration dates when it comes to receiving a travel credit from canceling or changing an American Airlines flight. AAdvantage members will receive a credit that expires one year from the date the credit is issued, while nonmembers only have six months to use the credit (for credits issued on or after April 2, 2024). Enrolling in the AAdvantage membership program is free, so there’s absolutely no reason not to be a member — and have your credit valid for a full year.

Related: American Airlines is making it much easier to redeem your existing travel credits

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How to cancel an American Airlines flight

The steps to cancel an American Airlines flight on paid and award tickets are now virtually identical. Once you log in to your American Airlines account, click on the “Your trips” link in the menu:

Cancel American Airlines flight. AMERICAN AIRLINES

From your list of upcoming trips, select the one you’d like to cancel:


Select “Cancel trip”:


Then, confirm your cancellation:


American Airlines should automatically reinstate your miles for award tickets, and the airline should automatically issue a travel voucher for paid tickets. The taxes and fees paid on award tickets should all be returned to the credit card used to pay. However, based on personal experience, double-check to ensure you receive the credit. If, by some chance, it gets refunded as a travel credit, you’ll need to call American Airlines.


Related: Why you should wait to change or cancel your flight if you want your money back

How to change an American Airlines flight

Changing an American Airlines flight online is easy. You can also contact American Airlines via phone to change your flight. However, if you booked a web special fare with miles, those award flights can’t usually be changed; you’ll instead have to cancel and rebook. Here are the steps to change a flight:

Once you’ve pulled up your trip in your account online, select the “Change trip” button:


From there, click the box labeled “Yes, I want to change this flight,” and search for new flights:


Select a new flight from the options given:


Then, American Airlines will display the new itinerary as well as whether you owe additional funds or are entitled to a credit:


If you’re entitled to a travel credit, American Airlines will display this as a “Refund Amount.” In almost all cases, that refund will be issued as a travel credit instead of a refund to your original payment method.


Once you’ve confirmed your new itinerary, you should receive an email from American Airlines with the travel credit to use on a future flight.

American Airlines trip credit. AMERICAN AIRLINES

Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance

American Airlines’ refund policy

American Airlines’ refund policy is pretty straightforward but fairly restrictive.

Refundable tickets can be refunded to the original payment method at any time before departure. If you purchased the ticket directly from American Airlines, you can request a refund on the American Airlines website. But if you purchased your ticket from a travel agent, whether a traditional travel agent or an online travel agency such as Expedia, you’ll need to contact them directly. For basic economy fares, you’ll need to be an American Airlines AAdvantage member.

Nonrefundable tickets are only eligible for a refund more than 24 hours after purchase if one of the following applies:

  • A schedule change of more than four hours
  • Death of the passenger or a traveling companion
  • Military orders for the passenger

Based on personal experience, if there’s a schedule change (one less than four hours), American Airlines is very flexible with allowing you to change to a new flight — on the same day of travel or even the day before or after.

Related: The best credit cards for American Airlines flyers

Bottom line

Since American allows extra flexibility for changing or canceling a flight, you should be able to book without worrying about losing money or your miles.

And because American doesn’t charge anything to redeposit miles, you should consider jumping on a great award booking as soon as you see it. You can always get those miles back without penalty if your plans change before departure.

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