AA offering increased voucher value in some cases


While updating our Coronavirus / COVID-19 cancellation policies post (which also includes everything you need to know about elite status and free night extensions and that sort of thing), I noted that in some cases, travel providers are offering vouchers worth more than the amount originally paid to encourage people to accept a voucher rather than asking for a refund. We received a report in Frequent Miler Insiders yesterday (and have seen other data points since) indicating that in some cases American Airlines is offering vouchers worth 20% more than the paid amount in lieu of a refund on flights they are cancelling (the member in our Facebook group got the pop-up shown below when in the process of requesting a refund for an AA-canceled flight online, but I’ve since seen reports of similar offers over the phone). Whether or not a 20% bonus is enough to get you to accept a voucher is up to you, but it’s worth knowing your full options up front.

a screenshot of a travel voucher
Picture courtesy of Rafael in our Facebook group.

I’m not certain whether this is now a blanket policy / offer on all canceled / severely impacted flights or it’s something AA is testing in select markets, but it’s worth knowing that you may receive this offer so you can consider whether or not you want to accept it.

The offer here is interesting in that it acknowledges that the customer is entitled to a refund if they so choose (something the DOT finally took a stand on a few days ago) and recognizes that a voucher is a lesser outcome than cash by offering extra value. I think that’s a positive step.

As to whether or not you should take the voucher, that’s a personal decision. I could envision a scenario where a frequent flyer who knows that they will fly AA after this is all over figures that this saves them a few bucks on future trips. I wouldn’t fault someone for accepting it.

On the other hand, I don’t think this would be enough for me. Some folks will say that there’s a chance the airline will go out of business and your voucher will be worthless. That is of course possible. Personally, I think it is extremely unlikely to the point where that scenario isn’t the one that would prevent me from accepting the voucher.

However, what would prevent me from taking this offer would be any one or combination of the following things:

  1. We don’t know how long this situation will last. More importantly, I don’t know how long it will be after the COVID-19 pandemic is “over” before I feel comfortable flying. Maybe I’ll be in the sky again this summer, maybe this fall, maybe not until a year from now. I don’t know, so I wouldn’t be in a hurry to accept a voucher that’s only good for a year.
  2. We don’t know what schedules will be like when things return to “normal”. I imagine that many routes will see capacity reductions for quite a while as demand for flights is likely to trickle back slowly. In my case, AA only serves a couple of cities from my home airport and I don’t know that those frequencies are going to line up with the connections I’d need (nor do I know what the frequency of those connections will look like). In short, it’s very hard for me to know if I’ll want to fly AA in the short-term.
  3. We occasionally see AA gift cards available at discounts, whether through second-hand sites like Raise (when stacked with a coupon or portal promo) or because of an Amex Offer to a place where you can buy them or something of that sort. I’m pretty sure I could get 5-10% off pretty regularly. The discount AA is offering (essentially $20 off of every $120) is only marginally better at 16.7% off. In a situation where I want to buy a flight, that might be a decent enough discount. In a situation where they need to sell me on the idea of locking up my money with them for a year when I likely can’t fly anywhere for at least a month or two and likely several more than that, their offer isn’t good enough.

Point #3 is really the one that locks it up for me. I’m lucky to still have a job right now when many people I know do not and I still wouldn’t be in a hurry to let them keep my money rather than getting a full refund. Cash allows me to decide which airline I want to fly and when – or that something else is of greater need than a flight. Surely there have been times when I’ve booked a flight that was a little more expensive than my cheapest option so that I could have the option that worked best for me and/or times when I haven’t booked a flight because I was spending money on something else. By turning down a voucher in this case, you’re essentially coming to the same conclusion: you’ll give up the best/cheapest deal in favor of the best deal for you.

All that said, I do think AA is making the right move here in offering something better to let them keep your money. I further want AA and the other airlines to survive and for the people who work there to stay employed. I think this is a good idea to work in that direction, I just think it’s not enough. Since I’m not terribly worried about AA going out of business, I think a 2-year voucher with something like a 25% or 30% bonus would probably make me more apt to accept. I wouldn’t be surprised if AA (and other airlines) look at the data on this over the coming weeks and adjust their approach based on the choices people have made. I wouldn’t hold my breath on vouchers becoming larger, but neither would I be surprised if they find that they need to offer more.

In any case, I do not have any AA flights booked, so I won’t be facing these decisions on any canceled flights in the near future. For those who are, know that you may need to do the math and decide which works best for you.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m waiting for AA to permit refund of AAdvantage miles used for cancelled flights.


I just got that offer and would have taken it if inhan’t already booked my fall travel. Instead I went ahead with the refund request.

Moshe E.

I cancelled a couple weeks ago when their policy was credit only, do you suppose I can request a refund? What would you suggest I do?


Hmm, I booked a flight in early March for a May 04 flight on AA that I have not yet canceled. I figured I would hold out for a while to see how everything would shake out, since I can get a full credit anyway. They have not offered me any incentive to canceling my trip early, though I will definitely not be taking it (the event that was on the other end of that flight has been postponed). The flight is only ~$120 so letting it float for now is not a big deal, and I will only get credit back (not cash) if I cancel the flights. That was my outbound flights …

[I have not seen anyone post about this yet in the blogosphere]
On the return for that trip, I booked a United flight in late Feb for May 08. When I go to cancel it, I am offered two choices, the first of which seems to imply I should wait until just before the flight to give me until ~mid-April 2022 flights to use the credit. Below is the text of the help box that pops up for the two options, lightly edited for formatting:
1. Electronic travel certificate
Offers the most flexibility for domestic travel and international travel on United
Validity: Can be applied to book a new ticket up to 12 months from today, for travel up to 24 months from today
Travelers Can rebook new tickets for any travelers
Airline eligibility United and United Express flights only
Usage Must book directly with United (not valid for use at third-party travel agencies)
2. Future flight credit
Offers flexibility to book travel on partner airlines, but current ticket restrictions will apply
Validity Travel must commence within 12 months from original ticket issue date
Travelers Must book travel for same travelers on existing ticket
Airline eligibility Any flight operated or marketed by United, including codeshare and Star Alliance flights
Usage Can rebook flight directly with United, or can rebook through original third-party travel agency


Let me know if you want a screen shot of the UA cancellation options.

Ed. C

I was told by AA last week that it only applied to certain itineraries that were booked directly through AA. Hopefully, they will change to a policy more like you suggested.