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It feels strange to write it, but many US-based airlines are making customer-friendly changes during the coronavirus crisis. British Airways and other European airlines? Not so much…
The latest positive change comes from American Airlines AAdvantage. I’m not referring to the extension of elite status for a year – BA, where are you? – but the changes to award cancellation fees.
For all AAdvantage members, you can make changes or cancellations for award tickets FOR FREE, as long as you do it more than 60 days in advance.
Why This Benefit is so Valuable?
For those of you who collect and redeem Avios, you might be in the habit of booking your long haul flights nearly a year in advance. Something comes up or your merely change your mind and want to cancel? An irresistible fare sale comes along? That will be £35 per person per booking to cancel your award ticket(s) and get your Avios back…
From personal experience, I can guarantee you that each individual £35 fee doesn’t necessarily feel excessive at the time, but over a lifetime of award travel you can easily spend thousands in cancellation fees.
With AA miles, that problem no longer exists. Fancy using miles to book a Christmas getaway? Not a problem. Just book it… You have until late October to change or cancel with no penalty. Want to fly in First Class but only Business Class is available? Book what you can and upgrade for free if your preferred cabin becomes available outside of that 60-day window.
Is This Important Enough to Switch to AAdvantage?
Although AAdvantage miles are harder to earn in the UK – now that the co-branded MBNA credit card is no more – regular readers will know that we regularly promote the award opportunities offered by AA’s partnership with Etihad. 62,500 miles for a one-way reward flight in First Class to the Maldives via Abu Dhabi? Or 40,000 miles for a one-way in Business Class, perhaps on Qatar Airways instead?
It will also be interesting to see whether the collapse in travel demand will result in improved award space on American Airlines. As many of you know, British Airways charge ridiculous levels of “carrier-imposed surcharges” when using your Avios on any transatlantic flight. When you spend AA miles on AA flights, these surcharges simply don’t exist. If you are a regular traveller to North America, therefore, you might be more inclined to switch your allegiance to AAdvantage.
What I Really Hope For…
Until June 2018, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offered a similar award cancellation policy. Because no other US-based airline offered such a generous policy, they decided to remove it. Click here for details.
AA bringing in a policy change that could save me hundreds… it already makes me think about leaving British Airways Executive Club behind for good. But if Alaska Mileage Plan does the same thing? Adios Avios…