**Update: 06/12/20 @ 22:10 UTC – An American Airlines spokesperson shared further information on the current policy; details below**
American Airlines has made a change to its refund policy when it comes to seat reservations. The Dallas-Fort Worth-based carrier will allow passengers to request a voucher for the value of a non-refundable seat if they cancel their trip during the COVID-19 travel period. These rules apply to flights booked by June 30, 2020, for travel through September 30.
A useful feature
The Points Guy highlights that previously, customers could only get a refund if they either canceled their flight within 24 hours of booking or if they paid to upgrade to a premium seat. Additionally, the operator would usually offer a refund if it rebooked a passenger for a reason that is not in their control or could not get a suitable alternative seat.
Now, with the revised policy, travelers are eligible for vouchers if they consult AA’s flexible booking policy and voluntarily amend or cancel their trip. There are plenty of concerns surrounding travel during the current global health crisis. Therefore, this is a progressive move for the company.
Several passengers may be reluctant to fly during this sensitive climate. Additionally, with the situation continually changing, there could be many people making last-minute changes to their plans. Therefore, this move gives customers peace of mind when booking.
Handling the situation
This process not only helps passengers, but it could also help American. Ultimately, there could be several more bookings made because passengers know that they are covered if they need to change their itinerary.
Moreover, since vouchers are on offer, AA is not losing out on any much-needed funds due to the amendments or cancellation. So, there is a balance on both sides.
It should be noted that apart from trips canceled within the 24-hour fee-free refund period, refunds and vouchers may not be given automatically. Therefore, customers need to submit separate requests for their flights, seats, and other purchases. Applications can be made by calling American or visiting its website.
A balanced approach
Simple Flying reached out to American Airlines for comment. A spokesperson for the firm clarified what changes are being made:
“During the COVID pandemic, for customers who were eligible for a refund, we were refunding their seat purchase to the original form of payment if they asked for one through reservations. We are now replacing that with a voucher and automated online process,” the spokesperson said.
“Typically, seats are non-refundable if a customer voluntarily cancels their travel plans. However, due to COVID, we are now allowing customers to request a voucher for the value of their unused seat. Customers receive an email that includes details on how to request that voucher.”
Altogether, the ideal solution for passengers would be a full refund. However, there needs to be a balance in place as airlines are already facing strains on their finances. So, a travel voucher in situations where the customer chooses not to travel seems to be a fair deal.
What are your thoughts on this move by American? Is this a good move for the airline? Let us know what you think in the comment section.