The American App Now Allows Same Day Flight Changes & Standby

When it comes to their app functionality, I can’t help but feel like American lags behind Delta and United. American doesn’t even let you book tickets through their app (which you’d think would be a no brainer), but rather they redirect you to their website. For what it’s worth, both Delta and United allow this.

There’s at least some good news when it comes to American’s app — in the past week American has rolled out same day flight changes and same day standby through their mobile app. It’s native within the app if you’re traveling alone and are an elite member, flying in first class, or on a “Y” fare. Multiple passengers traveling on a single reservation and non-elite members will be directed to aa.com, and won’t need to log-in again. I appreciate this functionality, as I’ve found myself enroute to the airport wanting to get on an earlier flight, only to realize I couldn’t easily do so through the app.

American shared the following screenshots of the process:

I certainly welcome this development, as previously you had to go to American’s website in order to make a same day flight change.

However, the truth is that American’s same day flight change policy isn’t nearly as generous as the policies of Delta and United. American only lets you switch to flights that keep you on the same routing, and there’s a specific, restricted fare class that’s required in order to make a same day flight change (which is unrelated to the fare you booked). This isn’t the case with Delta, which lets you change routings and lets you switch to any flight as long as it has the same fare class you originally booked.

I’m not much of a tech person, but based on my recent flights with Delta, I couldn’t help but notice how much more advanced and user friendly their app was. It shows you the upgrade and standby lists starting 24 hours out, automatically checks you in, tells you when boarding has actually started (not just the boarding time, but when the flight is actively boarding), etc.

The only thing I really like about American’s app is that it shows you where your flight is coming from, which Delta’s app doesn’t. However, Delta is actually good about updating the status of flights when they know the inbound plane is delayed, while with American I’ve been 10 minutes from departure with no plane at the gate, but it still showed as on-time.

Now I’m veering off topic a bit. So to get back to the point, yay to American for adding this functionality to their app.

Comments

  1. United has shown the inbound flight details for years now and also allows changes to any flight with the same fare class availability for elites within 24 hours of departure at no fee…

    United’s app doesn’t have the most modern UI / design but I find it SUPER functional for changing flights last minute, seeing flight details of your inbound flight to anticipate delays, etc. All they need to do is real-time boarding notifications and I’d say they have the most capable / useful app all up. I find American and Delta in some cases overindexed on a modern / clean interface and sacrificed a bit of user intuition as I find some features/information hard to find.

  2. Lucky

    The AA app does let you book through the app now. Latest update seems to have added the functionality. It used to frustrate me that they didn’t have this.

  3. Spot on with that Ben. AA never updates the information so it is your incentive to check the inbound aircraft but even that can be fishy if you’re at a hub where they can easily swap gates/equipment. Having a realistic boarding time would be amazing.

  4. The Delta app *does* show you the inbound flight, it’s just hidden about 3 levels deep. From your “today” screen, choose “Flight Details” at the bottom, which brings up the details for your flight. Then on that screen, choose “On Time” or whatever the status is, which brings up what looks like the same screen again. However, expand this screen, and it shows you the incoming flight number and a link to view its status.

  5. Unless it changed, the Delta app use to show your inbound flight if you clicked on the status, i.e. “on time.” It launched a new page and would show the inbound flight.

  6. United is one of the few apps that actually works, and really well. They probably devoted a small team responsible for it, who were largely separate from their legacy passenger booking systems and free to make it as good as they could, quickly.

    I would be willing to bet that AA just asked their existing IT team to knock something out quick and dirty, without thinking about what it could really do for the airline, and this crap is what they got.

  7. One small thing to note is that Delta, while very generous in offering same day changes as you note, does not allow you to switch from a connection to a nonstop, or a double connection to a single connection…In other words, you cannot reduce the number of flights on your itinerary. Unless, of course, you find a Diamond agent who is willing to do that, and this does happen to me on occasion. But I believe it is the exception to the above rule.

    [As a total aside, I love this ability and only once did it ruin my day of travel: the flight I switched to ended up taking three consecutive maintenance delays for a total of 12 hours!! An old DL 767-300 from LAX-DTW and there were no other options except for the redeye, so we waited. As it turned out, the redeye would have gotten us home 2 hours earlier. But who’s to guess that in the middle of the afternoon? It was a mess, to say the least, but Delta took excellent care of us throughout the ordeal and after.]

  8. The American same day change offering is hardly a benefit when it is so heavily restricted as to be so seldom available. The App is also so hopelessly behind.

  9. I just flew American yesterday and you are correct regarding the app – it is not user friendly nor up-to-date. For example, I was trying to check-in. It was 24-hours before my flight, and on the app my reservation said ’22hours until flight time’ but there was still no option to check-in. I received an email saying ‘check-in to your flight’ but it took another 30 minutes for the app to update itself (i refreshed the app, turned my phone off and on, nothing). Second, my flight was delayed. I was at the gate where the agent said the flight was delayed but the app still said the flight was on time. It took the app another 15 minutes to be updated to what the gate agent was saying.

    This is contrary to other apps, including Delta and Southwest where normally the app is updated first and then 5 minutes later the gate agent announces the same information.

  10. I used this today for a flight tomorrow and it worked perfectly. So much better than having to go to the website!

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