Planning an American Airlines trip takes time and effort – searching flights, finding seats, booking hotels, and making reservations. So when your travel plans inevitably change last minute, modifying your AA reservation can be daunting. How do you change flight times, dates, or even passenger names? Will you have to pay the fees? Lose your seat assignments? Navigating an airline’s policies to make changes can be a headache.
But don’t worry – modifying your American Airlines booking can be simple with the right tips and information. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about changing flight details with American Airlines, including exact fee amounts, rules for different fare types, step-by-step processes, and more. Follow the advice here to become an expert on changing AA flights smoothly. Learn how to switch up flight times, dates, destinations, number of passengers, names, fare classes, and other key details with minimal hassle or surprise costs. Read on for pro tips and tricks to handle any needed modification to your American Airlines reservation with ease!
Overview of American Airlines Change Policies
American Airlines offers travelers the flexibility to make modifications to existing bookings for a fee, following a few basic policies:
- Changes must be made at least 24 hours before scheduled departure for domestic flights and 7 days before international flights.
- The change fee is $200 per person, per change, plus any difference in airfare for the new flight.
- Only same-day standby changes are allowed for Basic Economy fares after the 24-hour cancellation window.
- Name changes incur a $200 fee for domestic itineraries and $250 for international. Proper documentation is required.
- Change options depend on the original fare type booked. Full-fare tickets have the most flexibility. The essential Economy has the least.
Understanding these essential rules will help you navigate changing flights with American Airlines. Carefully review all policies when booking to know what changes will be possible later.
Origin of American Airlines’s Change Policies
American Airlines’ fees and rules for flight changes developed over time along with industry norms. Change fees first appeared in the early 2000s as airlines looked to generate more ancillary revenue. Initially, prices were lower (around $100) but have gradually increased over time.
The 24-hour policy for free cancellations was also phased in over the years to allow customers time to modify bookings without penalty. Restrictions on Basic Economy fares have recently tightened to drive differentiation from the leading economy.
Change rules also reflect America’s rewards for frequent flyers – top elites get fee waivers, free same-day changes, and maximum flexibility.
While the specific change fee amounts and policies may continue to evolve, American Airlines’ structure offers customers options to alter reservations while driving revenue.
Step-by-Step Guide to Changing American Airlines Flights
Online and Mobile App
The easiest way to change most American Airlines flights is on AA’s website or mobile app:
- Log into your existing reservation using your confirmation code.
- Select “Change Trip” and choose your current booked flight.
- View alternate flight options and select a new flight. You’ll see the change fee and any fare difference.
- Confirm the change and enter payment information.
- Changing flights online provides the benefit of previewing new flight options and costs before committing to any change. However, Basic Economy fares can only be changed online during the initial cancellation window.
Change American Airlines Flight By Phone
To change flights not eligible for online changes, or to modify Basic Economy tickets, call American Airlines:
- Domestic: 800-433-7300 / 1-800-998-6716
- International: 800-882-8880
Provide your confirmation code and request your desired modifications. The agent can review change fee amounts and new flight options. However, they generally cannot waive fees outside of particular circumstances.
American Airline Flight Change At the Airport
Last-minute flight changes can be made at the airport by visiting an American Airlines agent at the check-in counter or gate. Exact fees and fare rules apply as over the phone. Airport changes are subject to the availability of new flight options.
Allow plenty of extra time for airport changes – long lines can mean potentially missing your new flight.
American Airlines Flight Change Policy Via Travel Agent
If you booked through a travel agent, you can contact them to assist with flight changes instead of dealing with the airline directly. Ensure the agent knows American policies to ensure a smooth change process.
Changing Specific Flight Details with American Airlines
Beyond switching dates or times for an entire itinerary, American allows changes to specific details of your booking:
As outlined above, flight dates and times can be changed 24 hours after booking domestic flights and 7 days after for international flights. The essential Economy has the strictest policies.
Changing your origin or destination cities incurs the same change fees as other flight modifications. However, altering cities is not allowed for Basic Economy fares after the free cancellation period.
Number of Travelers
American charges the change fee per person removed or added to add or remove travelers. All travelers must be modified on the same itinerary.
Name changes or corrections are allowed by American Airlines for a $200 domestic/$ 250 international fee, along with proper name-change documentation. Basic Economy names cannot be changed after ticketing.
American allows upgrades from Basic Economy to Main Cabin fares by paying the fare difference, but not downgrades. Other fare types generally cannot be changed.
Seats can be changed without a fee on American if the same cabin is selected. Upgrading houses incurs a fare difference charge.
You can make the flight changes needed for your trip by understanding which details can be modified.
Other Ancillary Services
Some additional ancillary services booked with your flight can also be changed or canceled separately:
- Checked baggage: Bags can be added or removed for the fees applicable at booking time. Refunds will be given if removed.
- Priority boarding: Upgrades to priority boarding can be added or removed for a refund of the fee paid.
- Premium seats: Seat upgrades to Main Cabin Extra or other premium economy options can be changed or canceled for a refund of the fees paid.
- Inflight wifi: Pre-purchased wifi passes can be canceled for a full refund of the amount paid.
While flight changes have set fees, changes to extras are more flexible – review policies at booking time.
Change Fees for American Airlines Flights
The change fee for American Airlines is $200 per passenger, per transaction, for domestic flights. International flights incur a $250 change fee. Exceptions include:
- Same-day changes: Standby for earlier/later same-day flights and higher fares are free for Main Cabin. Basic Economy can stand by for $75.
- Electronic Miscellaneous Document (EMD) changes: Applying unused EMDs towards tickets only incurs any fare difference, no change fee.
- Instant flight credit: Cancelling existing reservations and re-booking new flights with the credit on the same day avoids change fees.
- Elite status waivers: Top-tier Executive Platinum members can change flights for free, excluding Basic Economy.
Understanding which situations incur change fees can help minimize costs when altering your American Airlines reservation.
Strategies to Avoid American Airlines Change Fees
Savvy flyers use a few key strategies to avoid or reduce change fees on American Airlines flights:
- 24-hour cancellations: American allows free cancellation within 24 hours of booking as long as the reservation is canceled entirely.
- Use flight credits: When re-booking travel, apply for any American Airlines credits first, then new flights – no fees if done in the same call.
- Same-day airport standby: Main Cabin can make same-day changes for free if seats are available.
- Elite status: Executive Platinum flyers get unlimited free changes. Other elite tiers have discounted fees.
- Refundable fares: Buying refundable tickets allows canceling sans fees. Changes incur a lower re-issue fee.
While not always possible, being strategic with policies can minimize change fees on American Airlines.
American Airlines Change and Cancellation Policies by Fare Type
Change and cancellation policies vary widely depending on the initial fare type purchased from American Airlines:
- Full-fare First/Business Class tickets can be changed as needed with no fees for 12 months from booking, then a $200 fee applies. Refundable before departure.
- Discounted/Web First/Business fares have a $200 change fee but otherwise offer flexibility—refundable minus fee before departure.
- Full-fare Main Cabin tickets can be changed for a $200 fee if the ticket number remains the same—refundable before departure minus the fee.
- Discounted Main Cabin web fares have a $200 change fee and must be changed at least 24 hours before departure—refundable minus the $200 fee.
- The basic Economy strictly limits changes. No flight changes, or refunds are allowed after 24 hours. Same-day standby is the only option after ticketing.
Double-check your fare rules before booking, as change policies vary significantly. Main Cabin and Business/First full-fare tickets offer the most change flexibility.
Comparing American’s Change Policies to Other Airlines
- Change fees around $200 for domestic, $250+ international flights are industry standard.
- The 24-hour free cancellation window is also consistent across major US airlines.
- $75 same-day standby fees are similar across carriers.
- Light-fare Basic Economy class faces most restrictions, while paid First is the most flexible.
However, Southwest Airlines stands apart with free flight changes and cancellations in most cases. JetBlue also has no change fees. Policies at ultra-low-cost carriers like Spirit are even more restrictive.
Overall, America offers industry-standard change and cancellation policies, though newcomers like Southwest lack fees.
Applying for Flight Credit from American Airlines Changes
When you cancel or change flights with American and the new airfare is lower, the remaining value is issued as an electronic travel certificate or EMD (Electronic Miscellaneous Document) valid for one year from issue. To use this credit later on:
- Call reservations and provide your canceled flight’s EMD/change number.
- Ask to apply the credit towards a new flight reservation. Pay any fare difference.
- No additional change fees as long as the new flight is booked in the same transaction as applying the EMD.
- Credits can be used online if the original reservation was booked on AA.com.
Using your American Airlines flight credit instead of letting it go to waste saves you money on future bookings. Just be aware it must be used within one year.
Maximizing Your American Airlines Flight Credit
To get the most value from an AA travel voucher, keep these tips in mind:
- Book holiday travel early when fares are lower to use the most credit.
- Combine multiple minor credits into one new reservation.
- Use for award ticket taxes/fees to reduce miles needed.
- Pay baggage and seat fees with credits instead of cash.
- Book additional travelers to use larger credits.
- Donate to charity programs that accept airline vouchers.
With some strategic planning, you can avoid losing your American flight credits and put them towards your next trip.
Same-Day Flight Changes with American Airlines
Need an earlier or later flight on the same day as your American Airlines trip? Same-day flight changes provide flexibility, with different policies by fare type:
- Main Cabin and Business/First Class: Free same-day standby for earlier/later flights are offered within the same cabin booked. Confirm space at the airport.
- Basic Economy: $75 fee per passenger to standby for same-day changes to Main Cabin on earlier/later flights.
- Connecting flights: Standby for earlier connecting flights is free for all fares to minimize misconnects.
- Upgrades: Space-available cabin upgrades can be requested at the gate on the day of departure for fees published by the airport.
While less flexible overall, American’s same-day change options help when plans shift last minute, and you must fly earlier or later.
Tips for American Airlines Same-Day Changes
Making an American Airlines same-day flight change go smoothly involves a bit of strategy:
- Arrive at the airport early – standby lines can be extended.
- Be prepared to pay fees with a credit/debit card if not elite status.
- Have your confirmation # and passport ready to show the gate agent.
- Know your options for backup flights in case the standby is full.
- Pack food/entertainment in case new flight timing means lengthy layovers.
- Have an airline app available to monitor standby status.
- Be gracious to airline staff – kindness goes a long way!
With flexibility and preparation, same-day standby changes can provide a last-minute option on American Airlines.
Changing an American Airlines Reservation FAQs
Yes, American charges a $200 per person fee for most flight changes, plus any airfare difference for the new flight. The essential Economy has additional restrictions after 24 hours.
You can upgrade from a Basic Economy to a Main Cabin fare by paying the fare difference. Downgrades are not allowed after purchase.
Domestic flights can be changed 24 hours before departure, and international flights up to 7 days before. Basic Economy has additional timing restrictions.
The lower value of the new ticket will be issued as a travel credit valid for one year. No cash/check refunds are given for the fare difference when changing flights.
America does not allow partial name changes. All passenger names must be modified at once to change a name, with fees applied per traveler changed.
Yes, paper tickets can be exchanged for electronic tickets by calling American Airlines reservations or visiting an airport ticket counter. Standard change fees apply.
If booking via online travel agencies like Orbitz or Expedia, you must change the flight through them instead of directly with AA. Their policies may differ.
It depends – if changing to another flight on the same day, your seats are usually transferred. On other dates, seats must be re-selected.
In Summary – Tips for Changing American Airlines Flights
While American Airlines does charge fees for most changes to existing flight reservations, its policies are generally competitive and allow significant flexibility. Following the guidelines, you can change AA flights smoothly even after booking. Review any rules that apply to your specific fare type at purchase time.
With the proper preparation, you can handle any needed American Airlines flight changes with minimal hassle or surprise fees. Carefully read all policies when booking, then follow the steps to modify your reservation online, by phone, or at the airport.
Here are a few critical takeaways for changing American Airlines flights quickly:
- Allow 24+ hours’ notice for online/phone changes, or visit the airport for last-minute standby.
- Have your confirmation code handy to access existing reservations.
- Understand change fee amounts – $200 domestic, $250 international per person.
- Check your fare rules – Basic Economy restricts changes most after 24 hours.
- View trip credits from any canceled flights and re-use within 1 year.
- Pack patience – changes can take time, especially same-day standby.
With the information provided in this guide, you can be prepared to modify your American Airlines reservation with minimal stress. Safe travels!