American Airlines Adjusts Their Same Day Change Policy

As an American Airlines Executive Platinum for the last 7 or 8 years, the same day change policy they’ve employed has served me well.  I’ve been in the minority of frequent travelers who actually liked the $75 same day change fee as it was a fence for those not willing to pay the fee.  I’m willing to pay it to keep my business travel on schedule and American does a great job of holding back some first class seats on domestic flights such that I frequently ended up in a confirmed first class seat when making a change (something that never happens to me on United when every elite gets unlimited free domestic upgrades with a liberal free change policy for some).

I wasn’t thrilled when American announced the same day change fee was going away for Executive Platinum members, but there were so many positives to outweigh that slightly negative change that I rolled with it.

Now, they’ve gone a lot further.  As reported by View From The Wing yesterday, American is making significant alterations to their same day change (SDC) policy.  It’s just a few words, but here’s the meat of the change:

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.

3 things that make Same Day Change much more difficult:

  1. You need to have the same routing.
  2. You need to have the same number of connections.
  3. You can no longer use a co-terminal.

For those unclear on what a co-terminal is, that’s me having the flexibility to switch between Reagan and Dulles when I’m trying to get home early from a trip.  And, this doesn’t affect the standby policy unless you have absolutely no status with American.

This change primarily affects business travelers, as we’re the most likely to change our schedules.  And, as Gary surmises, the changes are likely because American thinks they can get business travelers to buy more expensive tickets.

The devil isn’t in the details with this change.  It’s in the implementation.  There was a time on American where certain fares didn’t qualify for co-terminal changes.  I haven’t seen one in a while and I’m thankful.  I can recall a few times getting stuck somewhere because I didn’t have the option to change between DCA and IAD.  But, I also recall a decent number of times when an Executive Platinum agent or friendly airport employee was able to make those changes.

I don’t use Same Day Change a ton and when I do, I normally keep my routing the same.  However, when irregular operations happen, like a weather disruption (or a sick child at home for me), I generally have to use some pretty funky routings to get where I need to go.

I suspect that there will be leeway for Executive Platinum members during IRROPS on the new Same Day Change policy.  I think there may even be a little leeway at the airport or EXP agent level here, as long as you’re not abusing it (or your helix rating is high enough).

For everyone else (and potentially EXP), this medicine won’t taste good.

 

5 Comments

  1. *YAWN* Nothing new. Even as an EXP, the AC agent refused to voluntarily change my one-connection to a non-stop, so this is just a clarification of existing policies.

    IRROP, on the other hand, is another ballgame.

    1. AA has an unpublished ranking for each elite passenger that ranks you 1 to 5 eagles. The higher the ranking the more likely you are to get someone to make an exception for you, etc. I don’t know how the rankings work but we can make educated guesses on revenue, number of times you complain, etc.

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