American Has Improved Their 24 Hour Refund Policy

American adjusted their official ticket hold policy as of April 1, 2016. The Department of Transportation requires passengers to be able to change their mind on tickets within 24 hours, when booking at least seven days in advance. In practice airlines have the choice of offering this in the form of a 24 hour hold, or in the form of being able to cancel a ticket within 24 hours of booking.

Historically American allowed 24 hour holds, but didn’t allow passengers to refund tickets once they’re issued. They changed that policy last April, when they began allowing you to cancel your ticket within 24 hours, assuming you were booking at least seven days in advance.

American has continued to allow tickets to be held on a limited basis. That’s to say that the option is still available on some tickets, though it’s not always offered, and there’s no way to force it.

In other words, if you’ve been booking within seven days of departure, the best option has been to book through an online travel agency (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.), since they still allow tickets to be canceled within 24 hours, even if booking within seven days of departure.

The good news is that per JonNYC, American has just improved their refund policy for tickets purchased within seven days. American now lets you cancel tickets within 24 hours of when you book, as long as your reservation is ticketed at least two days prior to departure (rather than the previous requirement of seven days).

Per American’s website:

You have up to 24 hours from the time of ticket purchase for a full refund if you booked at least 2 days prior to departure. You must cancel your trip for a refund.

If booked through Reservations, the service charge is nonrefundable.

This is a very nice development that will certainly cause me to book directly with American rather than through an OTA when booking travel between two and seven days of departure.

For what it’s worth, American’s 24 hour refund policy still isn’t as generous as the policies of Delta and United, as both airlines let you cancel within 24 hours of ticketing, no matter how close to departure you make your reservation.  However, American does still allow holds on a limited basis, so perhaps it’s a wash.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Comments

  1. “let you cancel within 24 hours of departure, no matter how close to departure you ticket your reservation.” I think you mean 24 hours of ticketing.

  2. @Lucky I noticed United recently changed their cancellation policy as well. It got more strict in that the departure date must be at least one week away. They used to let you cancel regardless of the departure date.

    https://www.united.com/web/en-us/content/reservations/refunds/24-hour-booking-policy.aspx

    “United’s 24-hour flexible booking policy allows the flexibility to make changes to select reservations within 24 hours of purchasing your ticket, without incurring change fees if you made your purchase one week or more prior to the original scheduled departure flight. “

  3. Now if they would just, for the love of god, stop issuing paper credit vouchers for changes that involve getting a refund. Amazing how backwards American is in this by not providing online credit that can be used for future tickets. I mean, who the heck walks up to a counter to buy a ticket now and hand in a paper credit.

  4. Is the buy up to better seating on AA refundable when you make it part of your original purchase ? I got a refund to my credit card for the ticket but not the seating upcharge.

  5. I booked 2 tickets on AMerican last November and cancelled within 24 hrs and my refund is still pending!!!! So much for improved refund policy. Very disappointed

  6. …and you still have to do a stupid online form instead of just hitting a cancel button?
    The title of this post made me think there was a big improvement.

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