No Change Fee To Upgrade American Award Ticket

Over the past few years we’ve seen airline award tickets not only get more restrictive, but also come with increased fees for changes and cancellation.

One of the more generous programs when it comes to award ticket change and cancellation fees is American AAdvantage.

American AAdvantage cancellation/redeposit fees

In order to redeposit an AAdvantage award ticket, American charges $150 for the first passenger, and $25 for each additional passenger on the same record locator. In other words, if you need to redeposit an award ticket and have three people on the same record locator, you’d pay a total of $200 in cancellation fees, which is quite reasonable.

American AAdvantage change fees

American doesn’t charge any fees to change award tickets as long as the origin and destination and award type remains the same. You can change the routing, dates, times, airlines, etc.

If you do change the origin, destination, or award type (like switching from a standard award to a saver award, downgrading from a business class award to economy award, etc.), the change fee is the same as it would be to redeposit — $150 for the first passenger and $25 for each additional passenger on the same record.

One exception — American doesn’t charge you to upgrade AAdvantage award tickets

There’s one really cool exception to this rule, though, that most people don’t know. You can upgrade your award type to a higher class of service without paying a change fee — you’d just pay the difference in miles.

Cathay-First-101
Cathay Pacific first class

Say you book a Cathay Pacific business class award ticket from New York to Hong Kong 11 months out for 55,000 miles, and then a month before departure want to change to first class. You could upgrade for just 12,500 miles without paying any change fees.

This exception isn’t publicly published anywhere, but in my experience is offered pretty consistently. In the event you get an agent not familiar with the rule or unwilling to waive the fee, I’d suggest just hanging up and call again.

It’s a policy that not many people are familiar with — and that I even forget sometimes — but that can be incredibly valuable if trying to redeem for a longhaul award ticket.

Bottom line

With award space as limited as it is nowadays, it’s valuable to be able to “lock” something in far in advance and then tweak it as the departure date approaches. American, United, and US Airways all charge fees for changing flights, so American’s policy is by far the best.

Comments

  1. Hi Lucky,

    I know the aa policy is $150 per record locator for award cancellation, but ever experience exceptions when a couple traveling the same itinerary but booked from two different accounts gets away with $150+25? My wife and I may need to do this…

    Thanks!

  2. Does this apply only if award availability at the higher class is showing on AA’s website? Or is it possible anyways?

    For example, I have a LAX-SYD coach award flight booked for later this summer. AA’s website shows no award availability in a higher class. Would I still be able to upgrade using points?

  3. A little catch – “American doesn’t charge any fees to change award tickets as long as the origin and destination and award type remains the same. You can change the routing, dates, times, airlines, etc.” The airline has to be within oneworld. Switching from AS to AA or EY to QR will incur $150 fee.

  4. Lucky: Actually this exception is published at http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/makingAwardReservations.jsp

    I’ve pasted it here:
    Changing Flight Award Tickets

    Changes to origin/destination –

    A $150 USD charge or additional miles will apply for a change to an eligible origin or destination on a MileSAAver or AAnytime award, (waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account). This additional charge or miles are waived when voluntarily upgrading to a higher award level in the same region.

  5. @ Dan

    In my experience, my wife and I were charged $150+$25 for the change in the reservation even though it came from two separate accounts. The trick was that even though we booked from two separate accounts, we had one common record locator for both. It’s possible to do this when you book over the phone with the right agent.

  6. I had an AA award recently and tried to change from an AA flight to LAN and was told twice I had to pay the redeposit fee (same origin/destination, more than 21 days, etc

  7. Thanks for the reminder Lucky…I actually believe I had read the fineprint as such regarding award changes, but was looking for confirmation. I just called in to switch my flight from JFK-LAX to the previous day so that I can take advantage of an ALMOST full day “layover” (23 1/2 hours is pretty close) before continuing on to Australia! They certainly don’t spell it out, but the fineprint backs up your article.

    “Changes to origin/destination –
    A $150 USD charge or additional miles will apply for a change to an eligible origin or destination on a MileSAAver or AAnytime award, (waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account). This additional charge or miles are waived when voluntarily upgrading to a higher award level in the same region.

    Changes that require different award type –
    Changes to the itinerary which involve different AAdvantage award(s) than originally ticketed require a reinstatement of the original award ticket, payment of the applicable award reinstatement charge (see below), and a new award ticket issued (waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account).

    Changes to your outbound travel date, resulting in a departure within 21 days –
    A $75 USD award processing charge will apply for a confirmed change to the date on an AAdvantage MileSAAver and AAnytime award ticket if the change results in a new outbound travel date that is within 21 days of the original booking date (waived for AAdvantage Executive PlatinumAAdvantage Platinum and AAdvantage Gold members using miles from their account).”

  8. I was JUST telling a friend about this! It is definitely a nice reprieve to have in the arena of award fees! In fact, one other helpful hint is that when you book business class (say, to Asia 2) one-way (and you hold the Citi AA Platinum card), you will get 5,500 miles back as a rebate. Then, when you do upgrade to first class, it only cost an additional 7,000 miles from your account. Very handy if you do not have enough for first class up front.

  9. @ Mike — I believe that’s correct unfortunately, since you’re changing the award type from an American award to a partner award. Silly distinction, but they do make it…

  10. @ zz — I don’t believe that’s correct. American will charge you if you switch from their own metal to another airline’s metal (since it goes from being an American award to being a partner award), but unless I’m mistaken, they let you switch between all partners at no additional cost.

  11. @ Colin — There needs to be award space availability in order to upgrade to a higher class of service. Keep in mind that American doesn’t show award space for all their partners online, though.

  12. @ Dan — You can certainly hope for a nice agent and ask for an exception, but generally not if they’re on separate locators, in my experience.

  13. @Lucky, I have to say from past experience that zz is correct. I had tickets to HNL on AS. When I had to change the dates, they only could use AS, as it was AA+Other partners award. They couldn’t even change it to AA all the way, or combination of AA and HA.

  14. I have been trying to do this, but every AA agent I speak to is incompetent! I have DEL-AUH-JFK booked on EY J from DEL to AUH and F on AUH to JFK. Now EY has switched the DEL-AUH aircraft to a 77L with F and released 6 F award seats. When I call AA and ask them to book me DEL-AUH in F they are willing to do it, but when I tell them that I actually already have a booked trip and just need the DEL-AUH sector upgraded to F, they tell me there needs to be F available on the whole trip. Obviously AUH-JFK F is never going to open again because I already have those seats…. Already did HUCA for the past week (different days, different times) and spoke to 11 different reps already. Nobody will make the simple change =(

  15. Perhaps I’m living on another planet, but I disagree with your assertion that the fees to redeposit miles in my account are reasonable.

    I can understand the opportunity cost for the airline, as they can’t sell my seat if I’ve booked it with an award ticket. I think a sliding scale is more fair. For example: free redeposit 60 or more days out, sliding fee scale closer to time of departure.

    Next, you’re going to tell me that fees to book an award ticket less than 21 days prior to departure are fair and reasonable too…

  16. @ Ron — Reasonable compared to what other airlines charge. United charges $200, and Delta/US Airways charge $150 per person. It’s a competitive landscape, and among the legacies American has the lowest fees. Period.

  17. But Delta waives the fees for Platinum & Diamond … a nice touch. It’s worth noting that DL charges (non PM/DM) to change the name on the ticket – for instance from Mike to Michael to match the passport.

  18. Lucky, I dunno if this common knowledge or not, but I was talking to an agent and he said you CAN drop segments from your orgin / destination as long as the country doesn’t change for no fee change. But only drop. IE: DC-NYC-XX can be changed to NYC-XX at no cost.

  19. @Lucky, this is a great exception to point out. In fact, I have taken advantage of this exception in the last couple of years. When I booked my flights originally, I would book in business class so that later on when I wanted to make changes I have both business and first class seats to consider which gave me more opportunities to change my flight to a desired date. A small point to note also is that the besides the additional miles for the upgrade, there may be a small tax difference that you will have to pay as well.

  20. Great to know, but not helpful for me yet. I need Cathay to make an equipment switch for my upcoming ORD-HKG flight. I’m currently booked in business and would love to upgrade, but there is no F-cabin to upgrade to! Perhaps a last minute switch will lead to no ticketed F-passengers, and 2 seat award availability then my wife and I can upgrade and have the whole cabin to ourselves!

  21. Great topic BTW!

    I am now currently trying to arrange a first class trip for myself to Japan through Hong Kong with a layover less than 24 hours on Cathay Pacific next summer. As of now I can’t find a first class seat, on the flights that offer first, on the route I want to take. I do see business class seats open. So just to be clear, if I book the business class seats in the hopes that a first class award seat will open up and then am I able to upgrade with points only without the $150 cancellation? If it is within 21 days would I have to pay the $75 fee and perhaps another $35 phone reservation fee? I understand there may be a differnce in taxes.

  22. @ Isaac — You’re looking to redeem American miles? If so, they don’t let you route from the US to Asia 1 (Japan) via Asia 2 (Hong Kong) on a single award.

  23. Hey Lucky. I have a similar question as Isaac did. I booked MNL-HKG-YYZ-ORD in business when it was more than 21 days to departure. If a first class seat opened up on a more direct routing MNL-HKG-ORD and it’s now less than 21 days to departure, would I have to pay any fees to change to that F seat on a more direct routing if the original travel date doesnt change?

  24. I actually asked that question explicitly today. The AA award agent said no…but of course that’s only one agent. I usually get different answers from different agents.

  25. @ KoolFatKat — Nope, you wouldn’t. Only if you change to a flight that’s within 21 days of the original date of ticketing.

  26. Lucky, I am trying to book an award from HKG to AKL. I have found HKG-SYD on CX J and only Y on SYD-AKL with LAN. If LAN release more J when it comes close to departure, will I be able to upgrade from Y to J with no charge? Thanks!

  27. i have a question regarding CX award. so if I’m looking for a first class from JFK-HKG and immediately connecting a Dragonair to China, how should it be done? because JFK-HKG will be first class, and theres no first class on domestic route. i tried BA award search, i can lock JFK-HKG first class, and the domestic one in business seperately, but if i combine them together, nothing is available. i guess its the class difference. how should i proceed in this case? in the end, I’m using AA to redeem. how should i inform those agent to do it?
    follow up about lock a business first, then upgrade once close to departure, i can lock business in the whole package, but if there is no first class exist in second segment, can i still upgrade the JFK-HKG segment to first? my thought is it cannot mix class. i don’t know.
    appreciate if anyone can help or may had the same situation.

  28. @ Wen — Should be very straightforward. When you call to book just tell them you want first class on the longhaul and business class on the shorthaul. Having a mixed class award isn’t an issue.

  29. I have a question on an award flight. I had booked an award flight before i had received my SW companion pass. Now that I have my SW companion pass i want to use that and not my AA award flight. Can i change the redemption date from December of this year to June of next without any fees?

  30. @ ZBigFam — Assuming the origin and destination remain the same you could. The one catch is that your ticket is only valid within a year of the date of original issue, so all travel has to be complete within a year of when it was issued.

  31. Tried looking for an answer to this but couldn’t find it anywhere – I’m hoping you would know. I booked one way JFK-AUH-MLE on EY in J as F was not available using AA miles from my account. If F opens, I don’t have enough miles (45k) to upgrade both me and my wife but my wife has enough miles in her AA account to upgrade us.

    My question is it possible to use my wife’s AA miles to upgrade from J to F when the reservation was booked with my AA miles? Thanks in advance!

  32. Hi! It looks like things might have changed when it comes to being able to upgrade to a higher award type without paying a fee. AA’s terminology as of today (Jan 24, 2015) is as follows:

    Changing Flight Award Tickets

    Changes to origin/destination –

    A $150 USD charge or additional miles will apply for a change to an eligible origin or destination on a MileSAAver or AAnytime award, (waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account).

    Changes that require different award type –

    Changes to the itinerary which involve different AAdvantage award(s) than originally ticketed require a reinstatement of the original award ticket, payment of the applicable award reinstatement charge (see below), and a new award ticket issued (waived for AAdvantage Executive Platinum members using miles from their account).

    The words “This additional charge or miles are waived when voluntarily upgrading to a higher award level in the same region” as stated above by Graham on July of 2014 have been deleted from American’s site.

    I was hoping to take advantage of your tip to upgrade our business class award ticket to a first class ticket without paying a fee but it looks like American changed its terms. Has anyone had any recent luck with this? Thanks!

  33. @ Yolanda — I don’t believe this policy has actually changed. Have you actually tried to change an award? Did so recently without trouble.

  34. Hi Lucky,

    I had a question about upgrading an existing business class award on Cathay Pacific that was booked using Dividend miles. I believe USair does not allow this upgrade to class with just miles but I wanted to know what would happen when the programs merge in a few months? Would my booking always be considered a USair booking or would it switch over? I am flying in the middle of May.

  35. @ Victor — You should be able to reprice it and upgrade a segment once the AAdvantage program takes over, but that would be at whatever rates American would charge for such an award.

  36. Hi Lucky,
    I, too, am concerned about the new language concerning AA award changes. I want to book a one-way business class award on Cathay Pacific (YVR to JFK) using AA miles and then hope they release some First Class awards. Assuming I find a First Class award then I just call AA and ask to upgrade the class, pay the difference in AA miles and any applicable taxes. But there is no change or redeposit fee, correct?

  37. Really stupid and newbie question here (and not from the mouth of a newbie). How do folks generally reach the award desk to change a ticket once they have begun travel internationally. I am hoping to upgrade my CX J to F for an April trip, but have been unsuccessful. I’m pretty confident that space will open up closer to the travel date.

    I know you probably would ring up AA on your trusty international phone. But what about those of us that don’t have one. Skype?

  38. Lucky, on what you said on July 11, “American will charge you if you switch from their own metal to another airline’s metal (since it goes from being an American award to being a partner award), but unless I’m mistaken, they let you switch between all partners at no additional cost.”

    I just changed a one-way first class ticket from JAL to Dragon Air then CX, and travel date being one day earlier. I was charged $150 because I was told the miles need to be re-deposited. Is that true? I didn’t want to try another agent since the date is what I have been waiting for and CX first award is hard to come by.

  39. Forgot to mention that AA agent can reserve seats on Dragon Air as well as CX. However, on CX they don’t have access to any window seats (1A, 1K, 2A, 2K), only middle seat is available.

  40. FYI – Today, I upgraded from an Economy to a First Class ticket for Heathrow-Miami moving the itinerary back one day from April 8th to April 9th.

    The normal increase would be an additional 45,000 miles (20,000 to 65,000 miles) and an additional $110 in taxes. The American airlines agent tried to charge me an additional fo change from an Economy to First Class ticket saying that the previous policy of not charging was changed for 2015. I protested and the agent waived the new fee (after speaking with a supervisor).

    However, it does appear that American Airlines is charging to upgrade Award tickets (at least for non-Executive Platinum as I am only Gold).

  41. Hey Lucky, were you able to investigate Michael’s experience some more? I’m looking at booking two JFK-HKG Cathay biz class tickets and hoping that F opens last minute and upgrading in October/November… If the policy is changed, it would be great to know.

  42. Looks like I found the new language on their website… Reinstatement fee seems to apply when upgrading awards now:

    https://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/award-travel.jsp

    “Changes that require a different award type:

    Changes to the itinerary which involve different AAdvantage awards than originally ticketed require a reinstatement of the original award ticket, payment of the applicable award reinstatement charge, and a new award ticket issued

    This fee will be waived for Executive Platinum members using miles from their account”

  43. @ Ryan — Nope, I confirmed with American that this fee is indeed waived. They’re still trying to figure out why the verbiage was removed, and I’ll report back when I figure it out.

  44. Have any idea of how this works with an AA MileSAAver vs AAnytime award? For ex let’s say you booked into J at a MileSAAver rate of 55k and later F becomes available at 32.5k. Think you can “upgrade” and get the 22.5k back?

  45. @ Paul — Nope. If you change the type of award (saver vs. standard) you have to pay the fee.

  46. Lucky,

    I have a few questions about the AA redemption fees. I booked a ticket about 9 months ago for my mom and me to go to London. However, my dad is very sick and my mom is unable to go.

    1. Can I have the ticket changed to my friend’s name who is willing to go while still being on the same PNR, or will the ticket need to be cancelled and reissued under a separate record locator? If the ticket is kept under the same record locator will I have to pay the $150 change fee?

    2. My friend moved to the west coast recently and my redemption is from the east coast. Is it possible to have my friend depart from her home city while I depart from the east coast with both of us being on the same record locator? As a OneWorld Sapphire member, I believe I get access to British Airways lounges in London or at least I have in the past. As such, I would like the tickets to be on the same record locator. I realize that since I would be changing departure cities, I would have to pay the $150 change fee.

    3. Since all my flights are on USAirways now (this is also what I originally booked for both my mom and me), but my friends flights might be on American from the west coast going while the return flights will be on USAirways flights returning, will I have to pay a change fee?

    I am guessing that I am going to have to pay the $150 change fee anyway since departure cities are changing, but I am curious to know if American considers USAirways to be a partner airline right now or part of the “New American”?

    Thanks for the help.

  47. @ JC — Sorry to hear about your dad’s situation, hope he gets better.

    1) You can’t change the name on tickets. You’d have to redeposit and start over, at best.
    2) If the itineraries aren’t identical you’d need to be on separate locators.
    3) If you change the origin or destination there’s a $150 change fee, and US Airways is considered to be a “partner.”

  48. Hi Lucky,

    For a JFK-LAX-OGG ticket, what if I ticket at the First Class MileSaver level so that I can snag the JFK-LAX leg? Currently, LAX-OGG is only available in Economy so I’ll take a voluntary downgrade on that leg. If LAX-OGG later opens up in business or first at the MileSaver level, can I upgrade my award for free to business or first on the LAX-OGG leg since I’ve already paid the FC MS price?

    THANKS!

  49. I’m wondering if anything has changed that might make the following incur a charge.

    I have a one way award booked in J for
    MNL-HKG(CX) – NRT(CX) – SAN(JAL) – PHX(AA) – ORD(AA)

    I was hoping when the time gets close and CX releases some more J to change to
    MNL-HKG(CX)-ORD(CX)

    Would this incur a fee? (no change to dates)
    How about if I upgrade to F?

  50. Have a reservation on an EY/QF ticket because the EY to Australia non stop I wanted wasn’t available for the date I wanted. I am under the impression I can just switch to the EY non stop once that becomes available for no charge. Is this true since the origin/destination are the same and we are just going to remove the QF leg?

  51. Thanks for the info. I can confirm that dropping a segment within the same zone does not incur a change fee. What I did to change from my original destination to my new destination without fees was:
    – Change to a routing that included my desired destination (ZHR->PHL->SEA changed it to ZHR->PHL->PDX->SEA) – no fee
    – Drop the last segment (PDX->SEA) – no fee
    Grant it, this only works as long as you can find a routing through you new destination.

  52. @ David/Lucky

    I am confused… I have a ticket AUH-MEL-BNE on EY and QF because the AUH-BNE non stop wasn’t available on the date I wanted. Can you explain how to do this without fees?

  53. @Lucky

    Thanks. I thought so but I know the mixing of OW carriers and just redemption partners may make things tricky. Do you anticipate a HUACA situation? Is there any literature or recommend things I should say to the agent so I can ensure I can complete the transaction in one phone call?

  54. I have a one way award booked in business class from LAX-HKG-SIN on CX. Priced out to 55,000 AAdvantage Miles. I received 2 5% reduced mileage awards (Barclay and Citi totaling 10%) adding miles back into my account.

    I would like to use some of those miles to upgrade to first class if availability does open.

    Does anyone know how American processes the request to upgrade and pay difference? Do they cancel the existing reservation and then re-book a whole new reservation and then charge the new pricing? Or do they just automatically debit the upgrade difference in price?

    Thanks!

  55. “You can upgrade your award type to a higher class of service without paying a change fee — you’d just pay the difference in miles.”

    Does this apply to economy awards as well?

    I’m planning a possible trip to HK with my wife for June 2016 and would like to book Cathay LAX-HKG in J or maybe even F. However, I probably won’t know for sure if this trip is going to happen (and the exact dates we need to be in HK) until late December. I imagine trying to find J and F availability for two 5-6 months out will be next to impossible. So I’m wondering, would I be able to book economy awards and upgrade if availability opens up closer to departure?

    (Also, would you happen to know if the same is possible with Asia Miles? I’ll probably need to book one award via AA and the other using Asia Miles.)

    Thanks!

  56. @ Wayne — It does indeed apply to economy as well. Don’t believe it applies with Asia Miles, though.

  57. Hi Lucky,

    I currently have 2 one way tickets booked POP-DUS-LHR for 11th May at MilesAAver Off peak economy rate of 20,000 per ticket. I need to change these to after the 25th May due to the Visa stamp but after may 16th AA switch from off-peak to peak so the same AA Economy MilesAAver award is 30,000. When I called AA they want to charge me a redeposit fee even though its the same award type saying its a higher award. When I then asked if you class it as a higher award then do you waive the redeposit fee they said no. Are they correct of should I keep trying. Or is there any otgher way to change without this fee occurring.

  58. @ Andy — You are changing the type of award from off-peak, so there would indeed be a fee if you’re just paying the higher economy price. There wouldn’t be a fee, however, if you’re changing to first/business class.

  59. I’m have booked an award with AA miles from JFK-HKG-KUL-SDK with the first two legs on CX and the latter on MH. I’ve used 55k miles to redeem as business class, but business was only available on last 2 legs, so JFK-HKG is currently in Y. My hope is that J will open shortly before the departure date. According to the AA agent I can simply call when it becomes available and they will upgrade me to J without any mileage redemption since I’ve already paid (in miles) for J.
    However, after reading above what nazgul said (see quote below), I am worried that this may not work.
    nazgul says:
    July 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm
    I have been trying to do this, but every AA agent I speak to is incompetent! I have DEL-AUH-JFK booked on EY J from DEL to AUH and F on AUH to JFK. Now EY has switched the DEL-AUH aircraft to a 77L with F and released 6 F award seats. When I call AA and ask them to book me DEL-AUH in F they are willing to do it, but when I tell them that I actually already have a booked trip and just need the DEL-AUH sector upgraded to F, they tell me there needs to be F available on the whole trip. Obviously AUH-JFK F is never going to open again because I already have those seats…. Already did HUCA for the past week (different days, different times) and spoke to 11 different reps already. Nobody will make the simple change =(
    Lucky, do you have any knowledge about this? Am I safe to get J if it becomes available on that leg, or do all legs need to have J available at the time (unlikely close-in for the shorter legs)?

  60. Hi Lucky,
    Thanks for informative posts.
    Question: if I book a EWR-LHR-BCN in business class with BA departing a Thursday and a week later, the FRiday biz class opens up, I can switch it for free? (Even if close to departure date?)

    How about if for the Friday, US airways EWR-CLT-BCN biz class open up, can I change it for free? Do I get my taxes back?

    Thanks!

  61. @ BT — Yep, both of those changes would be free, and the taxes would be recalculated.

  62. Hi all-

    Does anyone have a more recent, definitive answer as to whether or not upgrading using the difference in miles is possible? As I read it on AA.com it seems like they have shut this down?

    Thank you!

  63. On an unrelated note, I was wondering as I will be routing between PVG and SFO on Singapore Airlines, is First worth 30k miles more than business on the 777-300er?

  64. @ Zach — I suppose it depends how many miles you have. The hard product isn’t that much better, though I love the food/service in Singapore first class. So I’d pay the premium, but I guess it depends how many miles you have and what you value most, as business will be a perfectly comfortable way to fly. Enjoy the trip!

  65. Any idea if I can book an AA award using business class miles price and voluntarily downgrade to premium economy on a CX flight? I am looking at booking 6 people NYC to HKG next summer, but they only open 5 business class seats on each flight, plus 2 premium economy seats, so I was hoping to book one of the tickets with business class miles price but ticketed into premium economy.

  66. @ Farnorthtrader — No way to redeem American miles for premium economy on Cathay Pacific. I’m sure you could always swap with someone aboard, though.

  67. @ lucky.
    Looking at aa award t&c’s in changes it now seems that you get charged $150 if your new route includes another airline to that of the original booking. I tried to change a DPS-KUL(mh)-AMM(rj) to a route which included Qatar. They said I couldn’t do it without fee. Basically any route I change to has to be served by MH and RJ. lucky, can you confirm this?

  68. @ lucky

    I did and got told the same.
    This is what is says on their webpage.

    • For awards involving travel on other airlines, origin or destination changes or changes to the airline(s) in the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type

  69. For what its worth, I have just tried again and was told exactly the same. I asked the agent if this was a new policy and when it was introduced. She told me that she didn’t know the date but its been there for ages.

    I changed airlines and route for free just a few months ago on a different booking so something doesn’t quite add up………….?

  70. Hi Lucky,

    Do you know if there is a cut off time for AA booking changes can be made before departure time? I have
    2 X J HKG-LAX and want to upgrade if F becomes available super close to the time of departure.

  71. Hey Lucky,

    I booked a US Airways award ticket literally days before the program merged with AA in late March (with the awesome help of Points Pros) for 120k miles in first class JFK-LHR-KUL-NRT on BA first to London then MH first class to KUL and then MH business to NRT. Return is CX business HND-HKG then CX first HKG-JFK. My confirmation email came from US Air but then I got a follow up notice from AAdvantage saying they’d deducted 120k miles from my account in April. I have two questions:

    1) I’d like to change my ticket from HND-HKG from business to First if a seat opens in the day or two before departure. Since the rest of my itinerary priced at first under US Air would I still be able to make this change for free or would American charge me more miles for that class swap? I’d also like to push my departure from HKG-JFK back from 9:20am to a later time so I can take full advantage of the lounge. Would they try and charge a change fee on that?
    2) I understand Malaysia business is a bit underwhelming and my route from KUL to NRT has JAL with flat bed business class around the same times. Would I be able to change to JAL without incurring a fee?

    Thanks for the help and congrats on the continuing success of your blog!

  72. Hey Lucky,

    Just wanted to be clear that the comment directly above this is not from the Adam you responded to earlier, I’m somebody else and would greatly appreciate your help!

  73. @ Adam — Sorry for the delay! Hmmm, that’s a toughie. I’m guessing this is very much a case of “your mileage may vary” on both fronts. Highly dependent on the agent you get, so I’m afraid there’s probably not a correct answer. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they let you make any of those changes (and there shouldn’t be any fees).

  74. Hi Lucky
    I have a bit of a complicated question. I currently have an award booked for myself and my wife from LHR to JFK Oct 15 returning Oct 18 JFK to LHR. If I am willing to keep origin and destination the same can I move the outbound LHR to JFK portion of the booking to a day in December but keep the current Oct 18 JFK to LHR return as is? If this is possible there is a part 2 to the question. Once we fly the Oct 18 leg does that mean the Dec leg is fixed or is it still possible to shift dates for free assuming origin destination and class remain the same?
    Thanks in advance!
    Jeremy

  75. Hi Lucky, Do you you know how late you can cancel a one way award ticket and still get your miles back on American? For instance, if you arrive at the airport 30 minutes before your flight and realize that there is no way you are going to make it, can you call or go online and cancel and still get your miles back? I’ve read elsewhere that you can even get you miles back after the flight has departed, which seems hard to believe. (while we are on the subject, do you know the same info about United?). Thanks.

  76. Hi Lucky, I just confirmed with AA that upgrading from business to first does not incur a change fee if the airlines and routing are the same. I then asked what if it is a change in airlines but same origin and destination, to which they said it would incur $150 change fee.

    I want to book CDG-DOH-MEL in business on Qatar and then potentially upgrade to first on Etihad if it becomes available. Etihad routing would be CDG-AUH-MEL so would cost more in points given the transit rules. Would I have to pay a change fee?

    Thanks in advance 🙂
    Stan

  77. Hi I booked myself and partner ((both advantage members) on CX flights MEL – HKG then HKG-LHR. Same booking ref number and all AA miles coming out of my account.
    I have just changed the date and switched to CX flights MEL-HKG then HKG-MAN. I expected to pay USD150 + USD 25 + plus a small tax change, but the agent has insisted that the fees are USD 150 + USD150 plus a minor tax change. Is this correct.

  78. Re above question, I have just worked out my big mistake. Coming from Dividend miles were a change fee of $150.00 per person covered any change and re-issue of ticket I didn’t realise that with Advantage there are TWO fees to make the change of destination. For two passengers it is $150.00 + $25.00 to re-deposit the miles into my account plus $150.00 + $25 to issue new tickets plus/minus any tax changes.

  79. So I understand that “American doesn’t charge any fees to change award tickets as long as the origin and destination and award type remains the same”, but what if the “origin” is just at a different airport within the “same city” does that count?? For example, if I have a JFK-HKG route can I change it to an EWR-HKG route without incurring any fees? Same date, just different time, and also possibly different class (moving from Economy to First)

  80. Just a comment:
    I just called AA to change from a CX flight to JL (same origin/destination) and was told there would be a $300 fee (2 pax). I booked w US Air miles originally, and she told me that that’s why there’s a fee (even though I made a similar change a few months ago for free). She ALSO said that if I want to upgrade to CX F on my return, there would also be a $150/pax fee. Seeing these other recent comments, it looks like the change fee for CX-JL is now legit, but I’m thinking HUCA for F upgrade if it’s available.

  81. Also, fun info I’m now finding out about is that I can’t make any changes to my ticket since travel has commenced – not even class of service. I’ve been told two reasons: first, it was booked with US Air miles and that’s a US Air rule (which I knew about, but thought was gone since they’ve merged, not to mention that they’ve allowed other changes to this award prior to outbound departure that were not in line w old US rules), and secondly, even if it was booked with AA miles, since it’s a partner award a change still can’t be made after departure.
    I’d really like to get home early, but now three agents and two supervisors with whom the agents have checked have told me no, not possible at all without a completely new booking and losing the already booked miles. I’m so disappointed right now…

  82. Hi Lucky,

    This comments section has been very helpful. I’m hoping you have input as FT members are giving me two different answers on this question:

    I am hoping to get a Business SAAver award from ATH-PHL-RDU for next summer. As of right now, I can only book ATH-LHR-ORD-RDU, with that first segment being on BA and the others on AA. Does the longer itinerary count as a partner award with only one segment being on BA? The one person on FT said its allowed without fee due to this language:

    “The ticket will have to be reissued or set up for Reinstate/Claim if the award changes from an AA award to an AP or vice versa. For Reinstate/Claim PNRs, the AAdvantage Award Charge(s) will be waived.”

  83. hi, love your blog!
    Question….
    I am booking a AA award ticket, is there a way to get around the $75 fee when booking a ticket less than 21 days? For example, can I book it for say Dec 10 and then go back and change it to nov 10th? I know I can do this with United and not incur the fee. will this work with AA as well? From my research I think I can, but reading through some of your comments I am not so sure.
    thanks!

  84. @ fw — Nope. The fee is assessed even if you change your award from a further date out to within 21 days of the original date the ticket is issued. Sorry.

  85. Have recently became an avid reader of your blogs.

    My original itinerary is BOS-LAX-NRT-PVG-HKG-CGK with BOS-LAX on AA, LAX-NRT-PVG on JL and PVG-HKG-CGK on CX.

    Scenario 1: If BOS-NRT on JL7 opens up, would a flight change trigger the $150 fee?

    Scenario 2: Can I add a layover city between BOS and LAX on AA without getting charged extra?

    Scenario 3: I’m currently booked on a 15:25 flight from PVG-HKG. If I arrive several hours early, would Cathay allow me to change to an earlier flight when there is space? (I’m hoping to do this my next connection is merely 1h). Are fuller meals served on the 13:00/13:30 flights?

    Sorry to go off tangents– Will be a solo adult flying in J. Would AA, JL and CX honour my request if I ask for kids’ goodie bags? (hoping to give them as gifts)

  86. Hey, I just also wanted to comment on what seems to be missing from a lot of sites on the web which state you can change award flights on aa.com as long as the origin and destination is the same. This is true, which one exception, as was noted earlier by Adam in July:

    For awards involving travel on other airlines, origin or destination changes or CHANGES TO THE AIRLINE(S) in the itinerary will incur a change fee of $150, even when retaining the same award type.

    For example, I had 2 tickets booked to Kauai for me and my wife (different flights). Mine was on Alaska and hers had 1 Alaska leg and 1 American leg. I wanted to change both our tickets to the day before, which happened to be an Alaska Airlines flight. Mine was free since I didn’t change airlines (remained on Alaska), but hers cost $150 because, according to the agent, changing airlines from American to Alaska always will incur the fee. I thought there might be someway to avoid this, but it is clearly stated in their T&C. Maybe one could get lucky with certain agents but I doubt it

  87. @ Lucky, now that AA has rolled out their new FF program, do you know if they’re still allowing people to upgrade their award ticket to a higher class?

  88. Can someone tell me how far in advance I can lock in my award ticket, and then change to a later date? I reserved two RT tickets to Europe this week as far off as the calendar would allow (December 2016), but my husband and I actually are hoping to change the tickets for April of 2017.

  89. @Lucky, I have two economy mile saver awards booked for April 2016. BNA,ORD,PHL,BCN. At the time this was the only routing open. two mile saver business have opened up for BNA-PHL. Can I upgrade just this part of my itinerary? If so, what would be the additional points used, and is there a change fee required?

  90. @Lucky, I currently am booked on an all-AA Coach award, but want to upgrade to a JAL biz class. is there a fee to this or would the change fee be waived since I’m upgrading class?

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