AA Simplifies Online Award Cancellations, Expands Automatic Mileage Refunds AA Simplifies Online Award Cancellations, Expands Automatic Mileage Refunds

AA Simplifies Online Award Cancellations, Expands Automatic Mileage Refunds

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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:

AA's new award ticket redeposit fee structure

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.

Bottom Line

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?

4.6 / 5 - (18 votes)
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  • Any experience on the taxes and fees refunded?

    “Refunds of taxes and fees will be issued in full amounts, less:

    Sale-imposed nonrefundable taxes
    Taxes we must pay whether or not you travel
    Some countries have different rules about refunds, and if so, we will follow those rules.”

    • JT Genter says:

      I’ve always had all of my taxes/fees refunded on cancelled awards. And I’ve cancelled quite a few AAdvantage awards!

  • I booked an AA web special roundtrip award ticket from the US to Europe. I have flown the first portion of the trip to Europe. I’d like to know if I can cancel my return flight back to the US and get my miles back.

    AA’s website says you can get your miles back on a web special IF you “cancel your trip before the first flight departs”.

    Can anyone confirm whether I can cancel my return flights back to the US and get my miles back? It seems that since my first flight has already departed, from the US to Europe, that I may not be able to get my miles back?

    • Unfortunately, that’s the case. You can’t get your miles back if you cancel mid-trip. That’s a good reason to book two one-way flights (when it’s the same price) instead of a round-trip award (which can sometimes be cheaper). However, it’s worth reaching out to AA to see if they can make an exception and move your flights to a date that you can use them.

  • Faisal Ahmed says:

    Does AA refund the miles if the return flight of award ticket is cancelled?

  • American Airlines announced last month that AA mileage doesn’t expire at least until Jan 1, 2021. I think I haven’t found this information on this blog yet. AA mentioned that my account may display an incorrect expiration date for a while, and I think that’s why my awardwallet account still warns me that my AA mileage will expire soon. It would be great if you could somehow reflect the new expiration date.

  • zafrir benyehuda says:

    The fee changes announced just now by UA put these AA changes to shame. UA now allows award cancellation for free up to 30 days before travel. And unlimited free domestic flight changes, as well as free same-day standby.

  • Matt Schrum says:

    We had a Europe trip booked with my miles for this summer, but with the whole COVID mess we ended up canceling. I’m super grateful they allowed me to cancel and get my miles back. I can’t wait until everything calms down again and we can continue to explore Europe.

  • I think this is great. Airlines should help the passsenger in this covid pandemic.

  • It would be great if this feature came out sooner. It was really too much trouble to refund the award ticket before, and I needed to call every time refund ticket. Good news for me.

  • Finally, some good news when it comes to millage programs

  • Great news. New rules, flexibility, all appropriate for these hard times.

  • Patricia Cuenca says:

    Thanks for the information. It is a great news. But I think that American Airlines should extend the date of expiration miles for those who expires during the next month. Without a vacine it s difficult to plan a trip.

  • Does the 60-day free cancellation policy apply to award booking with partner airlines? Is it just the automatic re-deposit that doesn’t work with partner bookings?

    • JT Genter says:

      That’s correct. You can change or cancel all AAdvantage awards up until 60 days until departure for no fee. But, you’ll have to call to redeposit partner award bookings.

  • The new cancellation steps is an improvement. Southwest is still the best as far as cancellation. With Corona Virus happening, it would be great if all airlines would be more lenient on their cancellation policies.

  • Edward Monrad says:

    Thanks for this heads up, a step in the right direction. Wish companies overall would make this stuff easier, hope the coronatimes simplifications are made permanent!

  • it was great I could cancel it online, not a fan of calls. Good one AA.

  • Great! Before it’s only can be auto refund miles for Executive Platinum member. for now it’s can be auto refund for many member, that’s really a good news. BTW it’s a way to update your miles not expire even if it’s not good at this web site. haha.

    • If I understand you correctly, it sounds like booking and then cancelling an itinerary still has counted as account activity for you and kept your miles from expiring.

  • Estefania Yael Saban Zimmerman says:

    I think it is appropriate for these difficult moments. I hope we can travel again soon and enjoy

  • Great move AA! Almost Southwest-like!

    Now if only United and Delta followed the suit… 🙂

  • Hopefully they will expand this feature to tickets with partner OneWorld airlines as well.

  • Do all US “full-service” “network” carrier frequent flyer programs offer always free award booking cancellations for its top tier members?

  • That 60 days in advance cancellation is a very hefty time requirement. Should emergency changes arise, we are still left having to pay the fee.

  • I think the feature should be made permanent.

  • Good to see American Airlines take these steps towards simplification. Hopefully don’t have to use them and would hope other airlines follow suit.

  • Florencia says:

    Sounds like a good idea. One learning from this pandemic is that passengers deserve better conditions (flexibility and cancellation policies)

  • All the airlines needs to be like Southwest and their cancelation policy/procedures!

  • Sunshine98 says:

    Good to hear. I’ve had to cancel in the past due to an emergency.

  • I am from Argentina
    The last year i changed my American airlines miles for tickets to fly from Buenos Aires to pensacola Fl this summer.
    Obviusly, i did have cancell my vacations trip for the quarantine.
    The cancellation was easy i called and i recovered my miles and tax in few days.

    Now With this new online system I think more simple and it is the better solution in coronavirus time.

  • Muy buen articulo; detallado y facil para entender. Me sirvio mucho, gracias!!!

  • This is very good. Finally they did something to make it easier and better. I wish other airlines would follow these footsteps to make it less hassle.

  • Thank you AA for making life easier for us. Now to wait for normality to be able to fly.

  • Hi,

    I’d like to know if this cancellation policy applies for any AA flight, booked through Iberia airline, with “Avios” (as they both share Oneworld alliance).

  • very well for American Airlines that I facilitate the way to cancel trips.
    now you can plan trips more flexibly and this cancellation policy allows us to change or refunds trips that something gets complicated.
    this is excellent news for uncertain times with the covid-19 !!!

  • I wish this would also include reservations which included partner airlines.

  • 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, THIS is awesome!!! I wish it was for partner booked trips as well, but this is still great!

  • This is a good move by American. However, i wish the second tier was 30 days instead of 60 days.

  • I’m not clear: will AA now charge for changing the dates/times of travel, if done inside 60 days, even when keeping the same origin and destination? Currently all members can freely reschedule (and even change partners/connection airports) up until flight time. For me this feature is the PRIMARY reason for preferring AAdvantage over the other programs.

    • JT Genter says:

      Unfortunately, that advantage has now gone away. All changes within 60 days are now subject to a change/cancellation fee — even for changes that didn’t used to incur a fee (like changing routing, airline, etc)

      • This makes me very sad. While it was good practice to grab a seat well in advance just in case, my experience has been that better flight options open up in the days right before departure, up to a couple of weeks. Rarely have I actually flown the originally-booked flights. I guess from now on I’ll just wait until the last minute to book, and keep a stash of miles in other programs as backup.

        • JT Genter says:

          Totally agreed. While this new policy of having no fees outside of 60 days to departure is a positive for many travelers, it definitely closes the door on these type of changes.

  • Finally able to cancel without making phone calls, seems simple enough for them to do- glad to see there coming around to the 21st century!

  • Sofia Lotti says:

    It is great that you can get your miles back, but I still think that AA should extend the date of expiration miles for those who expires during the next couple of month, as we don’t know yet, due to the pandemic, when we will be able to travel again. I’ve read that some of the other programs removed the expiration of miles.