Airlines Normally Don't Permit Any Name Changes After a Ticket is Booked, with the exception of very minor spelling corrections or a name change due to marriage (see How to Change a Name on an Airline Ticket Due to Marriage). The reason for this isn't logistical but rather economic: airlines don't want speculators buying up tickets ahead of time and selling them at a profit close to the time of travel. By strictly enforcing a no name change policy, airlines ensure that they, rather than speculators, capture the value of higher priced tickets sold closer to the date of travel.
With the pandemic, it's been possible with many U.S. airlines to use airlines' travel vouchers obtained from cancelled tickets to book a new ticket for a different person. But it still hasn't been possible to change the passenger name for an existing, uncanceled ticket.
With current travel voucher policies, it has been possible to cancel tickets from airlines like Alaska, American, JetBlue, and United and then use those funds for someone else. But you still haven’t been able to give an existing ticket to someone else without paying the difference in fare.
However American is in the process of switching over from flight credits, which could only be used for the originally ticketed passenger, to trip credits, which can be used by anyone. With this switch to trip credits, a passenger can combine credits from multiple cancelled flights and use the credits for anyone s/he chooses.
In conjunction with this change, American Airlines is permitting AAdvantage members to make a free name change on each changeable paid or award ticket, if the recipient is also an AAdvantage member. Only one name change is allowed, and the name change must be made by January 31, 2022.
Note that no name change is permitted on Basic Economy tickets, unless it's a Basic Economy ticket booked before April 1, 2021 (which is when Basic Economy tickets became non-refundable and non-changeable).
Will this one name change exception for AA tickets help you or someone you know?
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