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You've done it. You've set your travel goals, researched the best programs to use, figured out that American Airlines is your best option, built your balance of AAdvantage miles, and booked your dream trip.
Now you have to cancel it.
Scrubbing a trip is frustrating enough to do without having to go through a convoluted and time-consuming process. With this in mind, AA has recently unveiled a new, simplified procedure for canceling and refunding award tickets.
Now, AAdvantage members can cancel award bookings and get their miles back online with only a few simple steps. Let's take a look at the new system to see if it's made a difficult task any easier.
Which Bookings Qualify for Automatic Mileage Refunds?
Over the last few months, we've seen several updates to AA's award cancellation policy. Most of these were temporary measures in response to COVID-19 — including free changes and cancellations for all bookings made on or before June 30, 2020.
However, hidden among these temporary fixes was a new, permanent change. From now on, all award bookings can be changed or canceled for free provided it's done at least 60 days in advance. For changes within 60 days, AA charges members a fee based on their elite status level:
Without getting too much into the pros and cons of this new policy, the big hiccup was that even if you were eligible for free cancellation, you still had to call AA to get your miles back. AA fixed this when it began offering automatic mileage redeposits. Still, most reservations weren't eligible.
Now, AA has expanded this feature, offering automatic mileage refunds for all members who qualify for waived redeposit fees, provided the reservation meets these terms:
- Travel is on American Airlines flights only.
- The ticket was purchased directly with American Airlines in the U.S. or via its U.S. website.
- Travel for any portion of the trip has not begun.
- No changes have been made to the trip since the ticket was issued.
All other AA award bookings will still require a phone call to change or cancel.
Cancel Your Award Booking
Once you've determined that your booking is eligible, the entire process consists of four simple steps.
1. Select “Manage Trip” for the desired reservation in your AAdvantage account.
2. Select “Cancel Trip”
3. Confirm the Cancellation
4. Get Your Miles Back
You may or may not receive an email confirmation about the cancellation or mileage reinstatement, but your miles should show up in your account within 48 hours. In the cancelation we walked through above, AA refunded the miles almost instantaneously.
If you're an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member, virtually all of your AA-operated award bookings will qualify for automatic mileage redeposits since cancellations never incur a fee. For all other elites and non-elites, cancellations within 60 days will still require a phone call and a fee to get your miles back.
Make no mistake, canceling an award booking stinks. Giving up the fruits of your labor is tough enough as it is; requiring a phone call simply adds insult to injury. Automatic mileage redeposits is a wonderful addition, and I'm glad to see AA has expanded its availability further.
Given the current state of travel, there are a lot of people canceling award trips. As far as I'm concerned, anything airlines can do to take the sting out of a lost trip is a move in the right direction.
How do you feel about AA's new cancellation policy?
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