Update 3/10/2020: In addition to Delta and United, American Airlines has announced that they’re extending their waived change fees to include flights that were booked before March 1, 2020. This is valid for flights due to take place from March 10 to April 30, 2020. Those flights can be rebooked for travel through December 31, 2020 or a year from when you originally booked it, whichever comes first.
American Airlines has announced that they’ll be waiving change fees for travel booked from March 1-16, 2020. This is valid for flights up to January 26, 2021 and has clearly been introduced to encourage people to go ahead and book travel where they might otherwise have delayed booking anything due to concerns over Coronavirus.
There are a number of important things to note regarding this policy change. American Airlines has advised the following:
- We will waive the change fee only for tickets purchased between March 1, 2020 and March 16, 2020, with original travel between March 1, 2020 and January 26, 2021.
- Tickets must be changed at least 14 days prior to the departure of your original flight.
- New travel must be completed within one year of original ticket issue date.
- Any difference in fare will apply.
- Change your trip online or by calling Reservations.
This is a positive change that will likely encourage some people to make reservations, but it’s important to be aware that it only applies to change fees – it doesn’t represent a change in policy with regards to cancelling your flights and/or getting a refund. You’d therefore need to be prepared to move a trip to different dates rather than being able to cancel a trip outright and receive a refund.
As the terms above note, you’ll have to pay any fare increase as a result of changing your flight(s). What’s not clear is whether American Airlines will reciprocate that by providing a partial refund if the flight you’re changing to is cheaper than the flight you originally booked. It’s highly likely though that they won’t refund any difference in fare though because, you know, it’s American Airlines rather than Southwest.
It might seem a little strange that they’re only offering the waived change fees for flights booked in the next couple of weeks, but I suspect the March 16 date will get extended if worldwide – and particularly domestic – cases of Coronavirus continue to rise over the next fortnight.