American Airlines Eliminates Change Fees + Changes To Basic Economy (No Longer Elite Qualifying Effective January 1, 2021)

American Airlines is today rolling out its change fee waiver with a twist (you can get a voucher for residual value unlike with Delta and United) and some “enhancements” both negative and positive to Basic Economy-fares.

Elite members will get their benefits such as upgrades and preferred seating, even when on Basic Economy. This fare class becomes ineligible for elite qualifying dollars, miles, and segments effective January 1, 2021.

You can access the American’s page for this announcement here.

No fee applies to:

  • Any of the 50 U.S. States
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Caribbean
  • Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

in all other fare classes except Basic Economy.

American Airlines will allow free same-day standby to the same destination (doesn’t say that it should be the same routing) effective October 1, 2020, including international.

Here’s the announcement from American:

Download (PDF, 52KB)

Conclusion

It didn’t take long for American and Delta to match what United announced yesterday. American not only include the 50 U.S. States on its waiver but Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean too.

Nobody knows how long it will take for us to get through this Covid-19 pandemic (hopefully gone by the end of the second half of 2021), and these positive changes merely mean that airlines no longer need to extend their waivers every month or so.

I’m not too fond of the fact that now with American Airlines, you end up paying for your elite status in the form of having to book non-Basic Economy-fares.

Also, these fees will likely creep back when the economy gets going, and airlines are again in search of ancillary and fee revenue.

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