American Airlines Eliminates AAdvantage Award Fees, Extends Mileage Expiration Pause

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Great news AAdvantage members! American Airlines just announced three positive changes to its AAdvantage program. AA is eliminating AAdvantage award fees—including award reservation fees and fees for redepositing miles after canceling an AAdvantage award. Also, AA is extending the pause on mileage expiration through June 30, 2021.

Here's what you need to know about these changes:

Eliminated AAdvantage Award Reinstatement Fees

Effective November 11, 2020, American Airlines is permanently eliminating the fee to redeposit miles when canceling an AAdvantage award. That means that all members will have flexibility when booking AAdvantage awards. Travelers will need to cancel the award ticket before the flight departure to be eligible to have the miles reinstated at no cost.

Indeed, it's this flexibility that American Airlines emphasized in its announcement:

“Flexibility in travel has never mattered more to our AAdvantage members. Our goal is to make it as easy to travel as possible and give them a loyalty program that suits their needs in our ever-changing world.” -Rick Elieson, President of the AAdvantage program

AA had already waived this award reinstatement fee for all award tickets issued through December 31, 2020. Starting with awards issued in 2021, the award reinstatement fee would have been based on an extensive chart—with fees of up to $150 per passenger:

We can now ignore this AAdvantage award reinstatement fee chart!

Thankfully we now get to toss this chart out of our collective minds. Going forward, there will be no redeposit for all AAdvantage members and types of awards. And, American Airlines confirmed to AwardWallet that this includes Web Special awards.

Even better, with these fees gone, most AAdvantage members will now be able to get automatic mileage refunds of awards canceled online.

Eliminated AAdvantage Award Ticking Fees

Starting on November 11, 2020, American Airlines will no longer charge fees for booking award travel through AA Reservations.

Before this change, you would have to pay $30 to book domestic travel through AA Reservations, or $40 for international travel. You could get this fee waived if you weren't able to book the award online—such as when booking Reduced Mileage Awards.

It's important to note that this change is only for AAdvantage awards. AA will continue to charge a $25-$35 fee for booking cash travel through AA Reservations.

Extended Mileage Expiration Pause

American Airlines has now extended its mileage expiration pause through June 30, 2021. Now, AAdvantage members don't have to worry about their miles expiring due to inactivity for another 7 months.

In April, American Airlines only paused mileage expiration through June 30, 2020. Starting in July 2020, AAdvantage members' miles began expiring. Thankfully, American Airlines decided in August to retroactively extend the expiration to December 31, 2020. Any members whose miles expired in July and August should have been restored.

Typically, AAdvantage miles expire after 18 months of no activity. However, there's no excuse for letting your AAdvantage miles expire as you can earn AA miles just for commenting on an AwardWallet post.

Final Thoughts

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, we have seen airlines make some positive moves for travelers like eliminating change fees and pausing mileage expiration. On the flip side, we have also seen United and Delta make negative changes to partner award charts.

So far, almost all of American Airlines' changes have been positive for AAdvantage members. The only exception: AA Basic Economy flights won't earn elite-qualifying activity starting January 1, 2021. Otherwise, it's clear that AA is trying its best to retain loyal AAdvantage members by ditching fees and making other member-centric changes.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Great news for those of us in UK who cannot fly to the US at the moment. I was concerned that my miles would be lost.

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    Gustavo Stepfer says:

    Hello Good morning, It is already a Great Action and understanding of the World Reality.
    Many of us find ourselves unable to travel for various reasons.
    I think these actions make customers a little more loyal.
    Thank you so much !!!

  • Avatar

    I actually got a notification just the other day that my miles are about to expire in January! So not sure if that was something not yet loaded in the system, or AW pulling up old data?

    • Avatar

      As per our agreement with American Airlines, we have a direct integration with them, meaning that we are not accessing your data from their website instead we connect directly to their database via API call. If you click the “Edit” button next to your American Airlines account and scroll down you will see the expiration date we got via API. I suppose AA representatives should provide you with further information regarding your miles expiration.

  • Avatar
    Cecilia García Nistor says:

    Great! I wasn’t aware of this and the website still says my miles are expiring on Dec 30 2020. Guess I should contact AA anyway.

    • Avatar

      As per our agreement with American Airlines, we have a direct integration with them, meaning that we are not accessing your data from their website instead we connect directly to their database via API call. So, we get the date via API. I would recommend you to contact AA representatives directly.

  • Avatar

    I booked a web special award back in June 2020 for a flight in May 2021. If I cancel the award flight, my understanding is that I would pay no fee to reinstate my miles without a 1-year limitation (since back then “AA had already waived this award reinstatement fee for all award tickets issued through December 31, 2020.”)? On the other hand, if I book an award flight now (after 11/11/20), I pay no fee to reinstate the miles with with a 1-year limitation (i.e. reinstate your miles up to 1 year after the ticket issue)? Am I right on this? Thanks a lot.

  • Avatar
    leonardo Saubaber says:

    que gran noticia, que extiendan el plazo de vencimiento de las millas. Tenemos un viaje ya pago a Paris antes que se nos venzan ….sin embargo no sabemos cuando vamos a poder realizarlo. Ojala llegue pronto la vacuna

  • Avatar

    This is good news that they are extending points expiration, but when will our accounts reflect the change? My miles are set to expire in December, and the new date still isn’t showing up.

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    Has AA made an official announcement about this? Because I just checked an my miles still show a Dec 31st 2020 expiration date.

    • Avatar

      AA has made this announcement. In it, AA notes that it’s “working to update member accounts with the new expiration date”

      “Pausing AAdvantage® mile expiration through June 2021
      You’ve worked hard to earn your AAdvantage® miles, and we recognize you may need more time than usual to keep them active. We’ve paused the expiration of miles through June 30, 2021. If your miles are scheduled to expire on or before June 30, 2021, they will now expire in July 2021, if there’s no additional activity in your account before then.
      We’re working to update member accounts with the new expiration date. Rest assured if your miles expire before we make the adjustment, we will reactivate them.”

  • Avatar

    This is great news! We had to cancel a trip to Colorado in May due to COVID restrictions. Now we can rebook for next spring without our points expiring.

  • Avatar

    Great news!! I’ve been worried about losing the miles I’ve accrued on US airlines since I’m in Canada and I can’t see being able to travel on any of them anytime soon.

  • Avatar
    Fabian Zurzolo says:

    What a great news!! Even greater for someone living in Argentina, where we just came out of an 8-month quarantine, where the economic and social situation became very difficult. This removal of fees in the AAdvantage awards and the extension of the expiration of the miles until June 30, 2021 gives us, who have the hope and the possibility of flying again, a great help from the economic point of view. I hope that the other airlines, as well as the hotel chains, copy this action of American Airlines, it would be a great help fundamentally for South America, which has been very hit by the pandemic!!

  • Avatar

    I just logged in to American and it shows my miles expiring in December, 2020. How long does it take for this extension to June to reflect in the accounts?

  • Avatar
    Ginette Esses says:

    I read that AA extended the Miles expiration until June 2021. However my account statement shows that my miles will be expiring on Dec 13th. Why aren’t they extended automatically?

  • Avatar
    Martha Chamorro says:

    Thank you for sharing this good news! Mine were set to expire in March. AA is the best!

  • Avatar

    Has anyone seen confirmation of this extension show up in their account? Mine still says “EXPIRING ON NOV 23, 2020” in an orange box on my account summary page. And Awardwallet is warning of expiration in 7 days.

  • Avatar
    Florencia Di Giorgio says:

    Good news! I can not wait to fly again!!! AA is the best!

  • Avatar
    Josefina Castelli says:

    It is interesting to analyze the positive moves airlines are making to emphasize loyalty. Although this is a valuable post and I appreciate this move from American Airlines, it does not encourage me to travel.

    I want to mention a promotion that captivated my attention: Aerolineas Argentinas is offering free medical insurance. Passengers who buy a ticket for international travel will have travel assistance with medical coverage for a positive diagnosis of COVID-19. This might be an interesting move, since many are reluctant to travel due to the possibility of astronomical medical bills in the event of getting COVID and needing medical assistance. I am not a fan of this airline, though…

  • Avatar

    Mine were set to expire in Dec., so this is welcome news.
    One less thing to worry about in this wonderful year we call 2020.

  • Avatar
    Carmen Elida Ferrari says:

    These are very good news for those who cannot travel very often so our miles do not expire so quickly as they expire nowadays 🙂

  • Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this news, and keeping us all up-to-date on changes. I am happy to see American Airlines doing the right thing to retain customer loyalty. Many of us still do not feel comfortable flying yet.

  • Avatar

    Thanks for the information, was worry about loosing some hard earned miles next year now that AA ended the program with my bank in Argentina.
    Still I think they should end with miles expirations once and for all as other airlines did

  • Avatar

    This is great news indeed. Lets hope that other airlines will follow the suit.

  • Avatar

    American Airlines is the best company ever !

  • Avatar

    I used to hear a lot of complaints about AA in the past, but they seem to be the only ones realizing that those loyal to their brand will help see them through this temporary slump and are gearing programs towards enticing business. Seems like a picked the right program to be a part of.

  • Avatar

    Awesome news to deal with some COVID uncertainty and dare to book something.

  • Avatar
    Jeffrey P Hedlund says:

    That’s great that American Airlines is choosing to do the right thing and extend the expiration window for mileage. My account’s expiration, however, does not reflect that change. Hoping to see the date move forward from December 30, 2020 sometime soon! It’s getting a little too close for comfort, and I’m definitely not planning on traveling this winter season.

  • Avatar

    This is great news indeed.
    Lets hope that other airlines will follow the suit.

  • Avatar
    Jeffrey P Hedlund says:

    That’s great that American Airlines has chosen to do the right thing and extend the expiration period for AAdvantage miles, but just to be sure….I’m happy to leave this post and am looking forward to AwardWallet depositing 5 miles in my account to ensure it stays open! Thanks AwardWallet!!

  • Avatar

    This is really a great move by AA, who had only recently put a damper on OW members with the removal of the Premium Seat first row for many OW status customers of other airlines. So it’s nice to hear that more is now being done for the customers again.

  • Avatar

    Great news regarding AAdvantage program. Wonder if UA and DL will match that?

  • Avatar

    I received an email in August stating that my miles exp is delayed until Jan 1, 2021, and that he AA site will reflect this shortly:

    quote: For a short time, your account may display an incorrect expiration date. Rest assured that your miles won’t expire before January 1, 2021. We’re working to update your account with the new expiration date.

    fast forward to Nov, the site still shows the old exp term … let’s hope the system knows about the extended expiry.

  • Avatar

    I am pleased with the changes made by American Airlines. In this year, the pandemic has changed everyone’s life and routine. Without additional charges and extending the expiration date of the miles have given us a joy

  • Avatar

    Hola, saben hasta cuando es la extensión? Hasta cuando es el vencimiento?

  • Avatar

    I would like that also airlines will eliminate the fees for cancelling flight awards for till the end of the pandemic phase.
    Maybe it would be also good to have a very low cancelling fee just to avoid multiple award reservations.

  • Avatar

    Will it shows on my account that miles will expire on June 30, 2021? Mine is still showing EXPIRING ON FEB 4, 2021. Thanks in advance!

  • Avatar

    When I update AwardWallet Hilton Honors keeps pausing the update because of the CAPTCHA tool coming into play. Is there any way to overcome this (apart from removiing HH from AwardWallet)?

    • Avatar

      Please contact our support team if such questions arise:
      https://awardwallet.com/contact
      Yes, you should solve the CAPTCHA and hit the “Sign in” button yourself to get Hilton account updated. Unfortunately, there might be error messages for Hilton accounts from time to time due to the CAPTCHA solving issues, we can only recommend taking another attempt later.

  • Avatar
    Adriana Conde says:

    Good news! Waiting for flying again!

  • Avatar

    This is great news given how limited options are to use or earn AA miles are this year! Thanks for the insight and news.

  • Avatar

    Very good news, although it is expected, it was not yet written!!!

  • Avatar
    Juan Pablo Marcarian says:

    Excellent NOTICE!!!!

  • Avatar

    Good news. I was worried because my balance expires in January and I’m not able to book domestic flights in Argentina so my plan is to book a hotel in Chile and idk when will be possible to travel.

  • Avatar

    This is great. Now, soon after all the airlines are going to eliminate the fees to be competitive enough.

  • Avatar
    Carlos herbert Dresbach says:

    Indded very good news from AA. It´s good to see that in general the airline companies are too follow suit with some flexibility due the Covid 19 Pandemic, as we have been seeing with several other branch of companies like Banks, Credit Card operators etc.
    Glad to see the end of heavy fees being charged as those fees applied to change date of non refundable tickets.

  • Avatar

    Great news from AA. Thank you to Award Wallet for highlighting this change.

  • Avatar

    Good news, especially as international travel from the UK is so difficult right now. Hope it won’t be long before we get the chance to use our miles again!!!

  • Avatar

    Great information. I was just trying to decide how to extend my miles as they were set to expire in January. I now have 6 more months to procrastinate!

  • Avatar

    Whoa , this is awesome news!
    Kudos to AA for this.

  • Avatar

    Kudos to American Airlines for these moves!

  • Avatar

    Extension of expiration date is very welcomed in COVID-19 times. Right now I’m waiting for same step from IHG with 180K point waiting for proper times in my account.

  • Avatar

    Excellent. I don’t have many AAdvantage miles, but they just got that little bit more valuable and flexible.

  • Avatar

    I like these changes to AAdvantage. What else will they pressured into doing because other airlines are doing it too? Hm. Maybe they will finally see the benefit to being a transfer partner to a credit card? Baby steps.

  • Avatar

    Back to the old days of no fees for reinstating miles.

  • Avatar

    Some excellent news from AA. Now if only they would become a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points! I’d switch over my entire earning strategy to Citi.

  • Avatar

    Some really great moves by AA. Hopefully it will persuade more people to plan some upcoming travel using award miles.

  • Avatar

    This is indeed a wonderful news. I think AA is the only major US program with mileage expiry – hope that they get rid of it in 2021.

  • Avatar
    KARTHIKEYAN CHIDAMBARAM says:

    Wow this year AA is more flexible and mostly beats out delta in being the leader of user friendly changes. I understand AA didnt keep middle seat open, but many other user friendly approaches like waiving award redeposit fees and giving the difference back as travel credit when booking lower fare . So the two DFW carriers offering this perk, southwest and American. Southwest has still an upper hand for free checked bag . Hope American matches that too soon

  • Avatar

    Are they also doing away with the fee when you book award travel within 3 weeks of your travel date? I always thought that particular fee was egregious. There’s no reason if they had seats available they should be charging you to use an award.

  • Avatar

    AA is my favorite airline, glad to see it’s offering more friendly service to users.

  • Avatar

    What transferrable currencies can be used for AA? Amex? Citi? Chase?
    I know the BA Awards can be used on AA flights but I can’t find any of them and the BA award flights are more than paying cash for the flight much of the time. I’ve even tried positioning locations (home airport BHM) by using my Southwest points to go to NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc but still never seem to find those flights with the lower fees on BA.

    • Avatar

      Unfortunately, none of the above. Only Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to AA.

      Definitely check out Iberia’s award chart. Iberia doesn’t price awards by segment. Instead, Iberia just factors in the total distance. When I lived in Austin, I’d visit my sister in BHM by booking Iberia awards on AA from AUS-DFW-BHM-DFW-AUS. That’s 1,574 flight miles, meaning the award costs just 17,000 Iberia Avios round-trip. Even better, there’s a Chase-to-Avios transfer bonus happening now: https://awardwallet.com/blog/chase-ultimate-rewards-avios-transfer-bonus/

  • Avatar

    Thank you AA for making life easier for us.
    Now to wait for normality to be abre to fly!

  • Avatar

    Now hoping Alaska will do the same!

  • Avatar

    This is great news! Glad to see AA making positive changes and hope it lasts.

  • Avatar

    This is good news. Maybe I can start planning to use my award miles without the fear of losing my miles or paying to reinstate them. This is a smart move for AA because it essentially gives people the incentive to book even with award miles.

  • Avatar

    Great news. Thank you for sharing!

  • Avatar

    Very good for AA! I hope award fees never back!

  • Avatar

    Bravo! The end of so many nasty fees is the biggest silver lining of the COVID storm clouds! Especially the outrageous $200 fee to change a non-refundable ticket!

  • Avatar
    Alan g Schroeder says:

    Glad to see this change from American. I hate the chance of losing miles due to the virus.

  • Avatar
    MICHAEL BUHSE says:

    This is great news from AA.

  • Avatar

    So this presumably makes it free again to change some/all flights on an award ticket up to the last minute, as was until a few months ago? That’s the most important feature to me. Or are they going to only let you cancel the whole award ticket and then book a whole new one (which might lose you the seats on the flights that you don’t want to change).

    • Avatar

      I confirmed with AA that yes, you can cancel up until the last minute. If you’re afraid of losing award space, you’ll want to try to change the flight instead of canceling. However, Web Specials can’t be changed. So, you’d have to cancel and rebook those.

  • Avatar

    The good news here is that the points expiration date is being extended till the end of June 2021 as many people are unable to travel due to the current situation.

  • Avatar

    This is THE reason I like AAdvantage the best, even before this change for its flexibility on award tickets policy. Thanks for the even better news!

  • Avatar

    Along with eliminating cancellation fees, American Airlines continues to make it easier to redeposit an award online or through its mobile app. Thanks.