I’ve been on the prowl to switch our award tickets on AA.com because AirBerlin had updated our itinerary to leave Milan, Italy a night early. Not only did they cut out trip short by 1 night, they also had us sleeping in the airport overnight! Definitely not my ideal way to end a 2 week trip in Italy.
I was fortunate enough to stumble across a better itinerary on our way to Italy, so that’s what prompted me to start looking for a different return flight home. You can change your AAdvantage award ticket to a different flight and you won’t have to pay a fee as long as your departure/arrival airport remain the same.
Fees for changing award ticket
This post shows a table of what fees you could incur if you change your departure or arrival airport. However, if a better award seat ticket becomes available, then you can switch your ticket for no additional cost. I’ve done this numerous times without a hitch and the only fee you might have to pay is if there’s an increase in taxes. You could also receive a refund if there’s a drop in taxes when you re-book your award ticket.
When I changed our departure flight from AirBerlin to US Airways, I actually received a refund for $45 because the taxes were cheaper. However, on our return flight I had to pay $180 in taxes, because 1 of our segments is going through London.
When does AA post new award itinerary to their website?
When I was on the phone with the AAdvantage customer service representative to switch our departure flight, I decided to go ahead and pay the higher taxes to switch our return flight home as well. By the time we got to changing our return flight, the tickets had vanished from American Airline’s inventory! I refreshed the website and all the tickets did in fact disappear. They were either booked or there was a glitch in the AA system.
The customer service rep was kind enough to let me know when AA’s inventory updates on the website. AA.com award availability is updated twice a day. Shortly after 12:00am Central Time and then again sometime in the early afternoon. If there’s no new award availability by mid-afternoon, then you can try your luck again after midnight.
I woke up yesterday around 1:15pm and I performed my routine of checking my phone for award availability departing Milan, Italy on Saturday, April 25th. FINALLY, something became available and it was on US Airways! I was quite excited, because I’ve been wanting to try US Airways Envoy seats.
We do have to catch a British Airways flight from Milan to London. That’s where the additional $180 in fees came from. British Airways charges high fuel surcharge fees and they should be avoided at all costs! However, since this is the short leg of the flight, I was okay with paying $90 per person. We’ll avoid having to sleep in the airport overnight and we won’t have a 7 hour layover in Miami.
Don’t sit around waiting to book!
I immediately got up and went to my computer to call AAdvantage customer service and complete the award seat change request. At 1:15pm there were at least 3 or 4 different options available. Looking just a few hours later shows that there’s NO award availability left on April 25, 2015.
You might be thinking, why doesn’t Richard just use a service such as Expert Flyer to notify him when award seats become available? I can’t justify paying the fee since I don’t book award seats that much. Plus, Delta was removed from Expert Flyer last year and I am a frequent Delta flyer since I live in the Twin Cities area.
I won’t go into depth of what Expert Flyer is, but you can basically have their system notify you when flights become available. They have 2 plans outlined here on their website.
If you are going to go the manual route and look for award seats like me, then you need to consistently look every single day. If you search late in the afternoon, you might already be too late!
1 last thing you shouldn’t forget is that you can put an award ticket on hold for up to 5 days with American Airlines at NO COST! I love this option because if you don’t have enough miles in your AAdvantage account, but you’re expecting miles to be posted in the next few days, then you don’t have to worry about someone else book your ticket! Once the miles are posted to your AAdvantage account, you can login to AA.com and complete your award booking.