American Airlines Snuck in Negative Changes to their Fee Waivers

Unless you were living under a rock for the past 36 hours, you’ve by now noticed that the three legacy carriers in the United States, American, Delta, and United, all eliminated the fee waivers for domestic flights for 2021 and beyond. While this was heralded as a huge win for customers, not all was perfect. 

Delta and United still will charge you for International changes to Canada and Mexico, and American Airlines slipped in some fine print at the VERY end of their press announcement, assuming that most people would miss it.

American Airlines’ Change Fee Announcement

While the elimination of the change fee was the star of the show, American rolled out a few other announcemtns as well.

Fly standby for free

Starting October 1, 2020, you’ll be able to stand by for flights on the same day as your original departure to the same destination at no charge. This includes domestic and international travel, regardless of the ticket you bought.

Overall, a win, but I don’t see the international portion being too useful, as they typically don’t have seven flights to Dusseldorf. A nice gesture nonetheless.

More to Basic Economy

We’re enhancing Basic Economy fares, keeping the same competitive low price, but also allowing you to buy extras for your travel experience on tickets bought October 1, 2020, and beyond:

  • Upgrades
  • Priority boarding
  • Preferred / Main Cabin Extra seats
  • Same-day confirmed flight change

Sure, this is fantastic, but if you wanted all of those things you would have probably purchased a main cabin fare anyway, right? After you add in all of the a la carte options, chances are you’re paying more than a main cabin ticket.

The Gut Punch – Elimination of EQM, EQS and EQD.

Slipped in to literally the last line of the press release was that starting on January 1st, because of all the overpowering generosity of American Airlines and their wonderful change fee, if you are an AAdvantage flier on a ticket, you will no longer be earning any elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying status anymore as of January 1st. 

While it wasn’t spectacular before, it was something. Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) and Elite Qualifying Segments (EQSs) earn at a reduced rate of 0.5 per mile/flight segment flown on flights marketed by American.

Instead of giving you status and miles, you’ll instead get all the benefits you should have been getting in the first place:

  • Priority access / Preferred boarding
  • Upgrade privileges
  • Elite seat privileges, including access to Main Cabin Preferred and Main Cabin Extra seats
  • Same-day confirmed flight change

The Honest Truth

If we’re being honest, if you truly cared about upgrades, priority boarding, changes, and the like, and you wanted to earn Executive Platinum status, you were probably not booking these tickets before in the first place. Airlines (including my beloved Alaska Airlines) have trained us not to expect any upgrades on these tickets, but we at least would earn something for our status in the future.

Now, American Airlines is saying that if you fly on the cheapest ticket, we can move you to First Class, but you’re gonna have to take another flight some other time with us as well, because we won’t give you any miles towards status.

To me, that’s customer disloyalty, and goes against what the airline should be doing by trying to win over customers.

American Elite Flyers, what do you think about this? Does this change your perception of Basic Economy tickets?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Oh please, the kinds of people booking basic economy don’t show loyalty lol. they just book the cheapest flights for any trip they take. Do people who fly basic economy even care about elite status? lol

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    • On Alaska Airlines I sure do. They still credit full 100%

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      • As an Alaska Airlines flyer who might on occasion fly on AA, I sure do, as well.

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    • Tony that is not true. I was Executive Platinum 3 years in a row from the cheapest seats on AA.

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  2. I think you are in the small minority upset with the changes to BE travel benefits, which were hardly “snuck in”.

    Most elites will appreciate the benefits on (as you point out) the rare occasions they purchase BE. This makes BE for family trips where there is only one elite in the PNR, as well as short hops and situations where the price differential is simply too high to consider main cabin much more palatable.

    Post a Reply
  3. “ if you are an AAdvantage flier on a ticket, you will no longer be earning any elite qualifying miles or elite qualifying status anymore as of January 1st.”

    What does that mean? An AAdvantage flier on a ticket? Did you mean on a BE ticket?

    Post a Reply
    • Yup. I did.

      Post a Reply
  4. Ummm, “snuck” is not the past tense of “sneak”.

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