American Same Day Flight Change Restrictions Added

Well, it looks like American has added some restrictions to their same day confirmed change policy, which isn’t great.

American improved same day confirmed changes in 2015

American in many ways improved their AAdvantage elite program in 2015, as they’ve introduced complimentary same day confirmed changes for Executive Platinum members. Previously there was a $75 charge for making such a change, which all other passengers still have to pay.

This was more American playing catch up than anything else, given that Alaska, Delta, and United all have significantly more generous same day change policies. Though I suppose American’s policy is still better than US Airways’, as they only allow same day changes to an earlier flight and at the airport (US Airways should adopt American’s system when the reservations systems merge in October).

Reservations-Integration

Current same day confirmed change policy is confusing

Truth be told, I really still don’t get American’s same day confirmed change policy.

American-Same-Day-Changes

Per the terms, all that’s required is that the alternative flight:

  • Has the same origin and destination
  • Is for the same calendar day of departure
  • Has eligible seats available

Something they’ve never publicly defined is what constitutes an “eligible available seat.” While American in theory lets you make same day confirmed changes online, rarely do all options show up.

American-Same-Day-Change

Then when you call it’s a case of “hang up and call again.” Some agents think the same fare class is needed to make the change. Others don’t. Some have claimed that the routing had to remain the same. Others don’t.

So the system was always a bit more complicated in practice than on paper, unfortunately.

New same day confirmed change restrictions

Via View from the Wing and TravelingBetter, it looks like American has updated their terms on same day confirmed flight changes. Here are the full terms of the current same day flight change policy:

  • Same-Day Flight Change is only available on flights operated and marketed by American Airlines or American Eagle.
  • Same-Day Flight Change is non-refundable and non-transferable.
  • Same-Day Flight Change is offered on select routes and is subject to availability.
  • Customers using Same-Day Flight Change may only change to earlier or later flights that have the same routing, number of connections, and cannot change to a co-terminal in a multi city airport.
  • Passengers who purchase Same-Day Flight Change and are unable to use it due to a flight cancellation, or missed connection due to a late incoming flight are eligible for a refund. For more information related to refunds please visit https://prefunds.aa.com/refunds/help.
  • This offer is made at American Airlines discretion and is subject to change or termination at any time with or without notice to the customer.

That fourth bullet point is especially interesting, as it seems to be a fairly new restriction:

Customers using Same-Day Flight Change may only change to earlier or later flights that have the same routing, number of connections, and cannot change to a co-terminal in a multi city airport.

So now you can’t change the connecting point, routing, or change to a co-terminal airport.

For example, in the past I’ve changed a Dallas to Miami to Tampa flight to a nonstop Dallas to Tampa flight. And I’ve changed a Tampa to Chicago to Los Angeles flight to a Tampa to Dallas to Los Angeles flight. So no longer being able to do that is quite a negative change, especially when you factor in:

  • Often weather is a motivating factor for wanting to change your connecting point (for example, in winter wanting to go through Dallas rather than Chicago)
  • Many routes only have once daily service, so by not allowing a change in connecting points American is basically eliminating any sort of same day changes on those routings

American-767

Bottom line

This is no doubt a negative change. I’m not someone who uses same day confirmed changes a ton, given that you’re often less likely to get an upgrade if switching flights last minute. That being said, this will certainly impact me, as I’ve made several same day changes to routes and even number of stops.

What remains to be seen is how consistently these new rules will be enforced, given that there seemed to even be confusion over the old rules.

Will these changes to American’s same day confirmed change policy impact you?

Comments

  1. @Ben As you’ve said, they are playing catchup with the competition. There’s no doubt in my mind once they gut AAdvantage, they will finally have played catch up to the competition. RIP AAdvantage.

  2. While the american policy might compare favorably to USAir for Exec Platinums, it’s hard to argue that it’s better than USAir for other elites. As a platinum, I’ll take USAir’s free change to an earlier flight when I get to the airport over paying $75 to change flights over the phone.

  3. Am I doing something wrong? All I ever see when I click the Same Day Flight Change button on check in is a message saying there are no flights eligible for this change.

  4. Never realized it was so bad over there. Over here in the friendly skies we have 24 hours to switch to any other routing that is allowed under the original routing rules (although this isn’t always enforced). Unlimited SDCs, so in theory you could delay a trip by a few weeks if you wanted to. On domestic trips I think I use SDC on at least half my flights.

  5. Ben,

    I’ve done my fair share of same day flight change and some agents seems to know what they are doing and others have no idea what to do. This however is a pretty bad change for American since in your case I have done numerous of changes during my my flights. Specially during the case that Dallas was completely flooded and I had to go from ORD to DCA to LAX. When my original routing was something like ORD-DFW-LAX. If the new change policy would have been in practice then I would have like to see what American would have done on this case when zero flights were permitted to land in dfw at the time. I don’t see this new rule lasting because I know eventually they will think that this will cause more headaches when issues tend to be happening and the agent is willing to accommodate a guest on the best option. Odd and negative change by American but let’s see how long this will last.

  6. This part AA is so behind other airlines.. 🙁 and I can’t believe it… for once UA is better!

  7. While in theory I can see what they are trying to accomplish, in practice this is very much not passenger-friendly.

  8. This is a really bizarre move, given that it punishes high-value fliers the most. Leisure and infrequent fliers were generally not paying the $75 fee to begin with. The people using this were domestic fliers on business trying to get home early after work, or changing a flight that they would miss from being tied up in town.

  9. So is “standby” still free for Plat and above?

    I do see the language “same day standby continues to be available for select customers…” ?? Not confirmed, not changed route … just to jump on an earlier flite when available?

    All seems so jumbled – keep those customers confused.

  10. Purchased
    2 first class tickets, round trip between LAX AND DFW for a decent price, considering they were last minute tof attend a funeral (500rt). When I arrived early, attempted standby and the reservation desk could not add us. So we went to the earlier flights gate and they told usomeone there would be a 75 dollar charge. I pursued why, knowing that standby is “free” for first class tickets. She did not know why and asked another….the reason stated was that this was considered an up-class situation where we purchased main cabin seat pricing seats for first class. Has anyone ever heard this before?

  11. This has a huge impact on me. Being able to change stopover cities, or go from a nonstop to a connecting or vice versa, whatever gets me home the fastest, was once an awesome perk of AA. But no longer… I got stuck in PIT for 5 hours the other day cause I get out of work early, raced to the airport, and then was told I couldn’t get on the earlier flight and then my original flight got delayed. Got home 7 hours later than otherwise. Sounds like United might have a better policy? I’ll check it out! Thanks @Kris!

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