American Airlines makes big improvements to travel credits

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American Airlines has announced major improvements for how they handle travel credits. The Points Guy reports that American Airlines will convert existing “Flight Credit” into “Trip Credit” and that credit will gain a good deal of flexibility in the process. This won’t be immediate as they are piloting the program right now, but this is a very positive change overall and one that we can hope other airlines copy.

American Airlines Planes

While many airlines have had flexible change and cancellation policies due to the pandemic, the difficult thing has been navigating what happens to the various credits. Under the current system for most members, cancelling an American Airlines paid ticket results in a flight credit that can only be used by the passenger originally scheduled to travel. Furthermore, only one flight credit can be used per booking on AA.com (and only two over the phone), so if you have multiple credits from multiple cancelled trips where you were scheduled to fly, you couldn’t combine them and book a new trip for yourself, nor could you use them to book separate tickets for your friends or family members. That system results in having multiple small credits that have to be tracked and used separately.

On the flip side, the new Trip Credit will work very differently: “Trip Credit” will be more easily combinable since you can use up to eight separate trip credits on a single booking. Furthermore, you’ll be able to use it to book travel for anyone, so you won’t be limited to booking for the originally-ticketed passenger(s). You will also be able to use it to book travel on American’s oneworld or other partner airlines, so Trip Credit will have a lot more flexibility.

Trip Credits will also be automatically stored in your AAdvantage account, which makes it a lot easier to track. I’ve appreciated this trend from airlines of making those credits easier to track. The last time I took a voluntary bump a couple of years ago, the gate agent encouraged me to take a picture of it with my phone so I wouldn’t lose the information (telling me that it wouldn’t be retrievable if I lost it). Being able to find this stuff right in your online account is a lot more convenient.

So far, American is only rolling this out to select elite members and only on relatively simple single-passenger bookings. However, from what TPG is reporting, it seems that American does intend to eventually roll this out to all members. That’s great news as this policy makes a lot of sense. The previous policies weren’t particularly customer-friendly.

I very much hope to see this catch on at other airlines. In the past two weeks, I have rebooked a single United flight no less than 5 times. I saw this morning that the price of the flight I’m on now has dropped another $30 since I last rebooked it yesterday and I didn’t immediately cancel and rebook specifically because of the hassle of small travel credits that can’t be combined (I already have several $30-$80 credits on United that can’t be combined, which kind of stinks). This new AA policy would be a welcome change indeed.

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Dan

Nick, a little late to this conversation, but hoping you can help me out. I had booked a weekend in New Orleans for two people for Sept. 17-19. I’m canceling that trip, obviously, because of Ida. I booked the flight on AA through Chase using my UR points through my CSP. Do I contact Chase to get that cancelled, or do I go directly through AA? I would prefer to have my UR points back, but I’ll take an AA credit if that’s the only option as I have other travel planned for early next year. Thanks!

Dan

Thanks for the quick response. I’m actually not sure what I booked, if it was refundable or not. I guess I didn’t realize that was a choice through Chase. If I was so fortunate to have booked refundable tickets, it sounds like I could get my UR points back, no? Thanks again.

Susan

This is great news; I’m hoping similar rules will apply to Chase Travel or other 3rd party bookings. Made some reservations for friends/family that they didn’t use and those folks don’t fly much. Sure would like to use the credits for myself.

Mark

Sounds just like the JetBlue system, which uses Sabre to track the credits. Coincidence?

[…] until later on that we found out all of the restrictions on those vouchers. It seems that American has made changes to their vouchers, making them easier to […]

Buzz

Alaska has had Wallet Funds for a long time now. If I cancel a flight it goes into my Wallet and I can use it for whomever I want.

Ram

There is also another pain point with current Flight credits. I cancelled a Main cabin ticket and the new ticket I booked with Flight credit has to be on sane class. I called CC to book a new ticket in BE but the system wouldn’t let them book.. Not sure if this being addressed with Trip credit.

Devin

This could also be a huge negative in certain circumstances. When you rebook a flight credit, the excess gets rolled into a trip credit with a fresh 1-year expiration date. I canceled a (twice rebooked) flight today (destination closed to me but flight still operating) and had a $1,000 flight credit expiring within a week! I immediately bought a throwaway $42 ticket using the about-to-expire flight credit and the remaining $900+ rolled into a trip credit that expires a year from today.

Last edited 11 months ago by Devin
Stephen

So a lot like Delta eCredits then. 4 x per pax per on line booking.

Greg The Frequent Miler

But Delta requires that the same passenger uses the credits. AA won’t require that.

Fred

Wow. American will be beating southwest at their own game.