American Airlines Restricts Same-Day Changes

Jul 20, 2015

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Last week, we reported that American Airlines is now offering a limited test of same-day confirmed flight changes to select international routes. Unfortunately, it seems that the airline also added some unannounced modifications to its same-day change policy. Per View from the Wing, the new policy update restricts the routing options available to American flyers who make same-day changes.

The new language reads as follows:

“Customers using Same-Day Flight Change may only change to earlier or later flights that have the same routing, number of connections, and cannot change to a co-terminal in a multi city airport.”

Same-day changes are important because they enable flyers to purchase fares that aren’t ideal (e.g., those with an inconvenient departure time or connection) and then switch to a better flight if space is available. Now, however, options are significantly more limited. Flyers can no longer route through a different hub — a strategy that can be particularly helpful when there’s a chance of bad weather along your current itinerary (but no travel advisory has been issued), or at smaller airports when there might only be a few daily flights to each American hub.

American's same-day change page doesn't list these new restrictions. You'll need to click through to the terms and conditions to see them.
American’s same-day change page doesn’t list these new restrictions. You’ll need to click through to the terms and conditions to see them.

Delta and United both allow routing changes in their same-day change product, but implement other restrictions. Delta requires availability in the same fare class, which is almost impossible to find along busier routes for cheap fares booked in advance. United also requires availability in the same fare class, but offers an option to buy up to a more expensive fare class if necessary. For now, American isn’t implementing any such fare class restrictions for economy tickets, but does require special E-class inventory to process a same-day change. The cost remains the same at $75, and is waived only for top-tier Executive Platinum elites.

You can check for E inventory on ExpertFlyer, which continues to be a powerful tool for American passengers. If inventory isn’t available, flyers can continue to try for a same-day standby. However, there have been reports that Executive Platinum customer service representatives can process exceptions and open up E inventory even on flights that don’t have any. Hopefully phone representatives will be more lenient with these new routing restrictions — but don’t expect to see any of those options offered online.

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