American Airlines now lets you refund your award ticket up to 24 hours after purchase, as long as travel is more than two days away.
Both United and Delta allow complimentary changes and cancellations within 24 hours, so AA matching is not a huge surprise. On the other hand, AA allows free date and routing changes (as long as origin and destination remain the same) and five day courtesy holds.
One Mile at a Time (via JonNYC) notes—
AA is now offering the 24-hour refund and change fee grace period for tickets issued at least 2 days prior to departure.
Tickets canceled within this window will now be automatically refunded; filling a separate refund request is no longer required (this does not apply to tickets purchased via third parties).
Award bookings can also be cancelled and the miles reinstated without penalty within 24 hours of booking if booked at least 2 days in advance.
Why This AA Policy Change Matter
Sometimes, even with generous holds, mistakes happen. Sometimes plans are cancelled. This courtesy cool-off period gives you time to recover from error and not be quite as rushed at making simultaneous airfare and hotel reservations.
Here’s an example. AA allows only same-day holds within 7-days of travel. Say some last-minute award space to Tanzania opens and you finally can take that safari trip. Your Qatar award space is only on hold until midnight local time and it is already too late in Arusha to confirm a tour package. In the past, you’d have to either confirm the airfare and pay the cancellation fee if the lodges were full or you could let the award space go and try to hold it again. The space did not always return to inventory…
That’s just one example, but a great example of why this relatively modest policy change can matter greatly.
Three Potential Concerns
Although the news seems good, I do have three concerns. First, will AA still allow award holds? I’m not too worried about this because AA uses award holds as a way to entice you to buy more miles. Then again, Delta and Alaska do not allow award holds and United only allows paid award holds on it own flights. Nothing has changed yet.
Second, the free 24hr cancellation period does not apply if travel is two days or less away. Delta has what I consider a draconian policy in which any changes or cancellations to award tickets (even for Diamond Medallions) are prohibited within 72 hours of travel. Just last week Marriott prohibited changes or cancellations within 48 hours at most of its North American hotels on award stays. I would hate to see American adopt a similar rule.
Third, will AA continue to allow free date and routing changes? This is such an amazing benefit to redeeming with AA miles. But Delta and United don’t allow it except for their top-tier elites members. Might AA say, “We’ll give you 24 hours to change or cancel, but after than any changes will incur a fee”? Again, nothing has changed yet.
I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer here, but I don’t trust American to do the right thing.
Awards booked with your AA miles can now be refunded within 24 hours of purchase, provided travel is two or more days away. That’s great news. Let’s just hope the other shoe won’t soon drop.