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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:
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.
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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