Multiple reports have surfaced that American Airlines no longer lets you add or modify AA segments on an itinerary with a partner award, which represents a silent but substantial devaluation of the AAdvantage program.
Bad News: American Airlines Restricts Changes On Partner Award Tickets – No More Voluntary Additions Or Modifications Of AA Segments
American Airlines recently eliminated the last vestiges of fixed-price awards for American Airlines flights, moving to a fully-dynamic award chart. As part of that change, you can no longer voluntarily modify award tickets that have only American Airlines segments. Instead, you must redeposit and start over. That creates all sorts of headaches if you find a better flight connection or space from your home airport to a gateway hub. Chances are if that segment opens, your connecting flight will no longer be available or have gone up in price.
In terms of partner awards, American Airlines indicated there would be no change in policy (i.e., changes could still be made, as has been true for years). Multiple reports and my own experience, however, suggest that this is not the case. It appears that as of May 4, 2023 American Airlines no longer allows voluntary changes of AA segments on partner awards after ticketing.
Let me first illustrate what I mean and then we will discuss the implications. Say you are booked from Tokyo to New York on JAL in business class but live in Charlotte. As is often the case, the JAL space may open months in advance, but the AA space will not open until much closer to departure.
It used to be quite easy to call in and add such space (for no extra miles since AA charges based upon award region, not distance or segments), but that appears to be no longer possible, even if the connecting segment is available in U-class (saver business class) or T-class (saver economy class) space. Of course, you can cancel the whole trip at no charge and try to rebook both segments, but it is highly unlikely the JAL flights would return to award inventory; it is a risk I would never take.
Thus the practical devaluation is that if you cannot book everything at once, you are stuck booking connecting flights on American Airlines separately, even if there is saver space. This is a stealth devaluation and a major one. It also creates a potential headache in terms of checked bags and protection if one segment is delayed or canceled.
I called American Airlines myself…twice…and both agents confirmed that a voluntary addition or modification of AA segments could no longer be made, though AA segments can be deleted from partner awards without losing the partner space.
Your only hope of making changes would be a schedule change, which suggests the technology is still there to do it.
American Airlines appears to have silently rolled out a customer-unfriendly change to partner award tickets. You can now no longer add or modify AA segments, even if there is saver (U or T class) space available on your desired flight. This represents a substantial devaluation, even though award charts will not reflect it.
so…it’s like ANA? 🙂
not sure I ever knew about this AA feature.
Has anyone else experienced that AA tickets booked thru BA Avios appear to only give the option of hand baggage only fares?
I think this is more a display error than an actual basic economy ticket.
Correct. Is to do with the internal method BA use to quote the TFCs for the award. The true baggage allowance is the same as it would be for an AAdvantage award depending on applicable cabin and elite status.
This is a huge drag. I wonder if you can still piece together segments by calling before having anything booked. For example, many connecting flights to European cities on British Airways do not come up (or errors out) online because something gets wacky with the change of dates, or some other reason. So in the past, I would put a trip on hold, then call to add the next segment, which according to this post is not possible. But I wonder if you can just call and book the whole thing on the phone.
You can, but if you want to add or subtract AA segments, I’m finding that changes are not even always possible when the ticket is on hold. However, some agents are still able to change so that is a YMMV situation in which you can hang up and try again.
If you book a paid domestic positioning flight separately on each end (say, CLT->JFK and JFK->CLT in your example), is there a way to have AA put those on the same itinerary in the case of IRROPs and/or for baggage transfer? I’m finding mixed opinion on the matter.
It is not possible. Even if the two are “linked” the PNRs will be separate. That said, if both tickets were booked on AA 001 ticket stock, you should still be able to secure re-accomodation in case of irr-ops.
This is possible. But only before purchase. You need to put the award on hold. Then phone in to add the paid segment and AA will issue on one PNR.
Can you still add / remove partner segments on an all partner award (like JFK-HKG-SIN, changing the HKG-SIN segment or booking JFK-NRT and adding a NRT-NGO segment later)
That is not fully clear, but I believe the answer is yes – I was told the inability to change flights/segments only applies to AA metal.
In my experience, changing a single segment on a partner-only itinerary is not possible. Last October, I had a SEA-DOH-MLE QR J award booking. I called AA to change DOH-MLE to DOH-DEL and most agents would not do it. After a lot of phone calls, I got an agent to do it as a “one time courtesy”. The new segment to DEL was in Y. A week out, J space opened up on the DOH-DEL leg and agents would not just change the single leg to DEL to business. They kept saying the couldn’t see space in business to DEL because they kept searching SEA-DEL instead of just focusing on the second leg. I called So many times and all of them would not do it.
This is a special “feature” with QR metal. Just went through it trying to change CAI-DOH-HND. The whole trip needs to be available. Cant add available segments on QR. Can drop segments however.
This is a major negative. Schedule changes might bail you out but AA almost never has U space 11 months out . So you will be stuck in economy 100% of the time when booking a business class ticket with a partner.
Definitely a deval, but shouldn’t domestic connections on AS and B6 still work as normal?
I have a 60K KIX-LAX business award on JL connecting with AA LAX-IAH.
It’s for several months away. I knew IAH was only a possibility and it had U space.
I booked it (well prior to May 4). I wasn’t sure at the time, and still am not, if I would need to go to DFW or DCA/IAD/BWI. There was not U/T space to those airports from LAX anyway so I just did IAH.
I figured well once I knew, and maybe a week or so out, there might be U/T space open to the city where I really wanted to go.
Now, even if there is, it looks like that isn’t possible.
There has already been a schedule change LAX-IAH. I’m wondering if I don’t touch it (or call in), and wait until a week or so departure, will AA let me change destinations if U/T is open to say DFW or DCA?
Will the choice be drop LAX-IAH or pick a new flight LAX-IAH/HOU? I think they have a 300 mile policy. Does that apply to this and that would mean at least I could use DFW.
On the very day when they introduced it in the afternoon, I managed to add the much awaited segment of ORD-BNA to the already ticketed and for months held BUD-HEL-ORD ticket in the morning. The modified ticket got issued, but to my shock 4 days later the entire ticket got cancelled, miles and taxes refunded, without letting me know or without removing the extra ORD-BNA segment. I only found out about it because I check my flights every week.
Called AA, there was nothing they could do. Before that day addition of extra segments were allowed (but was no availability for months), on that day plenty of availability but prohibited from adding segments.
Horrible! How did AA make it right?
I have to say someone tried because the itinerary reappeared after I called, but did not get ticketed, when I called AA said it was not a valid reservation, and then dropped of 2 days later. Had to get a different BNA-LHR-BNA ticket for 57.5k+$350. Oh well,…..
It’s too bad AA is “too big to fail”
I think you meant modifications, not medications 😉
Damn. I’ve been looking to add an aa segment from lax to ord to my syd lax flight on Qantas in august.
Alaska still an option it seems.
I’ve dropped Qantas flights back into the system before and seen them pop up again straight away (including qf F). Wouldn’t rely on it though!
Any idea how this would apply to partner awards solely on AA metal? For example if I booked LAX-ORD-BNA using BA Avios but later dropped the ORD-BNA leg?
Makes no difference, as that would be BA repricing the award based on BA’s Avios chart. Any changes would be per BAEC terms and conditions.
Now the two legs may be married segments, and BA may struggle to canx the 2nd sector and keep the 1st, but that’s a different issue.
“No More Voluntary Additions Or Medications [sic] Of AA Segments”, should that be “modifications”?
I would say you are correct! 😉
(though this change makes me want to medicate…)
Unrelated to value/devaluation, on a purely procedural basis, there’s little new here. These restrictions have been applied to Web Special awards for years, possibly since their introduction. With Web Special awards having been so much better priced than “regular” awards, it’s likely most AA awards during the past few years have been Web Special awards thus no change to the way one perceives and manages awards.
Here are a few data points in case they help anyone with their planning.
Today I had on hold a JFK->SFO on AA metal in business, then a JL flight from SFO->HND in business for 80,000 miles. I wanted to add two flights (JL in econ and CX in business) to get from HND to TPE. They said this would be an additional 30,000 miles. It would make sense to me if this was an additional 10,000 miles because of the zone change. For example, normally, a JL fight in business from US to Toyko is 60,000 miles and two flights from US to TPE is usually 70,000 miles. The additional price of 30,000 miles instead of 10,000 seems like it could be a result of the award policy changes.
Yesterday, I had an itinerary on hold with an HND->SFO in JL business segment. I asked the agent to add a SFO->SEA segment in business on Alaska airlines. The agent said that would be an additional 12,000 miles. This seems like the kind of change that would have been allowed under the old rules but isn’t now.
Not related to policy changes, but how an agent messed up my itinerary: Yesterday I had that HND->SFO flight on hold in JL business. First, I tried to get the agent to add some TPE To HND segments (JL in econ and CX in business) that I had on hold. Because the procedure is that the reservation has to be first cancelled in order to add to a different itinerary, there is a risk that I might not be able to get a segment if it doesn’t go back in inventory (as mentioned in the article). I asked the agent to drop the TPE to HND reservation and add those flights to the HND->SFO itinerary. The agent said that they couldn’t get the flights back after dropping. But after the call, I found out by looking at the reservations that the agent forgot to drop the segment for which they said that the inventory disappeared. Afterward I also discovered that they agent dropped the HND->SFO flight, which I didn’t want to happen at all. The entire reservation was left in such as mess that I just cancelled it all out of frustration. I probably should have called AA back to see if anything could be done, but too late now.
Adding a repositioning flight to an existing reservation is about the ONLY way we have been able to get long overseas tickets invloving those 12-14 hour flights . E.g. booking ORD>DOH or DFW>HKG then adding on the other bookend flights later. AA just doesnt open award space for repositioning flights earlier.
I honestly I’d be happy (well sort of) if I could have them add a paid repositioning flight at time of booking just to have it covered and in ONE PNR so we could throughcheck bags. I wonder if they will allow that?
I dont’ mind separate PNR returning to the US since I have to get my bags anyway but that non through check PLUS having separate PNR means I will have to find VERY long layover to get bags and then recheck them. Not nice at all.
The above is one of the reasons I’m reluctant to participate in any type of airline, rental car, or hotel loyalty program.
Constantly amending the program benefits; inflated dynamic redemption schemes; lounges that have turned into day care centers; reward programs with multiple tranches that keep you running in circles; poorly trained customer support reps; airline alliances that fail to live up to expectations; etc, etc.
If you travel extensively, great!!! However, I’m usually pleased with the top four or five airlines based on my flight criteria. No need to sit in a connecting airport to snag incremental loyalty points when a non-stop is available on another airline.
Terrible move from AA… just terrible!
They now should not call it airline alliance, oneWorld or whatever – as AA-metal lights are no longer in the play to make award travel changes if needed.
Why almost every US company make devaluations instead of improvements?
Update to my comment above.
The summary from above is that I had a partner award booking. I called AA yesterday. I wanted to add some partner segments to it that I put on hold. The agent didn’t drop all the segments before re-adding, so they didn’t go back in inventory. Couldn’t add those segments. Then for adding on a different segment, the agent said it would be an additional 12,000 miles.
Just got an experienced agent who had been there many years on the phone that knew how to add on two international partner segments and one domestic partner segment onto an existing partner award itinerary. It didn’t take being on hold for 10 minutes at a time for each change. The number of miles required didn’t increase with each partner flight added on. It was a fairly quick and smooth process.
While the agent mentioned that the rules could have changed for some partner airlines, they hadn’t for this one. In the end I have 4 segments on partner airlines. It looks like the old rules still work, if you can get an agent who knows how to operate the computer system. When I tried asking on online chat, they just said they simply couldn’t do it.
That is very good news. Great data point and thank you for sharing!
Adding a repositioning flight to an existing long-haul award is something I’ve never thought of. An article explaining this tactic would be great.
Matt- I am the OP you quoted from Flyertalk and my thread is the basis of your post.
While I appreciate you and Gary as a bloggers trying to bring to light issues, I commend your first hand efforts to validate what is happening.
Unfortunately Gary from VFTW decided to take a quick way out by asking his AA contact for comment and taking their words as gold and in the process outright dismissing not just mine but several other FT datapoints.
Notice that Gary’s AA contact did not give a black and white statement that AA segments on a partner can be modified by their ticketing system without resorting to using the schedule change override trick.
Sadly Gary’s post implies it is due to what an agent’s understanding of the rules and therefore affects whether they want to make the change or not which it totally is not- this is a pure systemic issue PERIOD.
The reality is that AA reservations system will generate an error when you attempt to modify any AA segments on a partner ticket- independent of what an agent thinks or believes the policy to be.
The only way you can get the change made is only by using the scheduled change override PERIOD.
Whether or not that is made by an agent or supervisor who is knowledgeable enough or in cases ignorant about the fare rules does not matter!!!
Thanks for this. I will do a follow-up post on this.