American Airlines’ Stealthy Partner Award Devaluation or Untrained AA Agents?

American Airlines Partner Award Devaluation


Many American Airlines agents aren't allowing adding or modifying AA flight segments on partner awards, a major devaluation of the AAdvantage frequent flyer program for members who don't reside at hub cities. Flyertalker ultrasoul reports:

“[AA agents] confirm the May 4 [2023] internal memo stating that AA segments on international partner awards cannot have voluntary changes after ticketing. Only partner segments are allowed to be changed after ticketing. If AA segments need to be changed, the entire ticket has to be canceled or the AA segments have to be dropped and booked as a separate ticket.”

It's supposed to be possible to add or modify an American Airlines award flight segment on an international partner award without cancelling and rebooking. This is especially useful when booking international awards where partner award availability opens in advance of AA's own award space, or where optimal AA metal award segments aren't available at the time of the original partner award booking.

Many AAdvantage agents are advising that members must cancel and rebook the partner award in order to add the AA segment, which often isn't practical (in our Award Booking service for our best clients, we never recommend taking this risk, as redepositing a coveted international partner award flight can easily mean not getting it back since it may be snapped up by someone else, or it may not go back into award booking inventory at all). Alternatively, one can not include the AA segment in the award and book it separately, but frankly we don't recommend this either, as you then have separate tickets which may or may not sync up with schedule changes, delays, etc., not to mention you're not protected if your AA flight doesn't arrive in time for you to catch the partner award flight.

On the other hand, Flyertalker amejr999 reports successfully using AA's in-app chat to change an AA segment on a partner award ticket, which indicates that if it is still be possible to make these changes, many American Airlines agents are misinformed, probably confused by the fact that American no longer permits changes to awards that are entirely on AA metal. Even if partner award booking rules haven't changed, the fact that so many are being denied these AA segment change requests on partner awards is a kind of devaluation, since it forces one to spend more time calling again, asking to speak to a supervisor, etc. in order to get the desired change made.

On the other hand, if there's a schedule change you should be able to make a change without so much resistance. For award travel there can be some flexibility to make changes with schedule changes of 61 minutes or more (this is different from non-refundable paid tickets, which require a schedule change of 241 minutes or more; see Best and Worst U.S. Airline Refund Policies for Schedule Changes).

Will this AA partner award devaluation impact your decision to accrue and use AAdvantage miles?

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