How to Rebook and Save When American Airlines Prices Drop

American Airlines now lets you change flights without fees. Act quickly to rebook and save when prices drop.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Updated

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In the not-too-distant past, travelers were practically stuck with a flight once they booked it, as airlines would charge hundreds of dollars to change a flight. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the airline industry. To get travelers to start booking flights again, many airlines — including American Airlines — did the previously unimaginable:They eliminated change fees.

Now, travelers can change most flights with no fee — whether that's changing to a different flight on the same day or rebooking themselves on an entirely different route.

This change opens a golden opportunity for those seeking the cheapest flight possible. If you find a cheaper flight, you can change to that cheaper flight and capture the price difference as a travel credit.

Let's dig into how American Airlines' change fee policy works and show you how to rebook and save on American Airlines when the price drops.

What you need to know

Does American Airlines charge to change flights?

In late 2020, American Airlines removed change fees for most airline tickets. Now, you can cancel or change most American Airlines tickets without paying hundreds of dollars in change fees. You'll only have to pay the difference in price if the new flight is more expensive than what you paid for your original flight.

However, not all American Airlines tickets offer free changes and cancellations. American’s basic economy fares are nonchangeable and nonrefundable. Also, American Airlines only eliminated change fees for flights originating in North or South America. Change fees of up to $750 still apply to flights starting outside North or South America.

Does American Airlines refund flights?

The only potential ways to get an actual refund (not a travel credit) when canceling an American Airlines flight are by booking a refundable fare, canceling within 24 hours of booking the flight — or by purchasing travel insurance.

Otherwise, American Airlines will provide a refund for a nonrefundable ticket only if one of these situations is true:

  • American changed your flight schedule by more than four hours, and you opt to cancel.

  • American changes your flight schedule by 90 minutes or more within 72 hours of your originally scheduled departure time, and you opt to cancel.

  • You receive military orders or change in duty.

  • The death of the passenger or a traveling companion.

Booking a refundable fare

If you're concerned about whether or not you'll need to cancel your flight (and don't want to get stuck with a flight credit), American Airlines generally offers the option to pay a bit more during the booking process to make your flight fully refundable.

However, now that American Airlines allows free changes on most flights, it will likely make more sense to book a nonrefundable fare and cancel for a travel credit if your plans change.

Changes within 24 hours of booking

If you find a cheaper American Airlines flight and are still within 24 hours of booking your flight, simply cancel the original booking and rebook a new ticket at a lower price.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you change your flight within 24 hours of booking, American Airlines will only give you a trip credit for the price difference. But, by canceling the original booking, you'll get a full refund back on your card. Then, you can simply rebook at the cheaper price.

Airlines are required by law to allow full refunds on flight cancellations made within 24 hours of booking — as long as you booked the flight at least seven days before departure. American Airlines' policy is actually even more customer-friendly than the law requires, allowing refunds on flights booked at least two days prior to departure, assuming you cancel within 24 hours.

Travel insurance for canceled flights

If you purchased travel insurance your ticket may be reimbursable, but only if you cancel for one of the covered reasons — or if you've purchased a Cancel For Any Reason policy.

Last-minute flight change eligibility

You can change your American Airlines flight anytime before the scheduled departure time of your first flight. Unlike other airlines, American Airlines doesn't require that you change or cancel your flights at a set time before departure.

If you arrive at the airport late for your flight, head to the check-in counter. American Airlines' unpublished policy lets you rebook on the next available flight as long as you arrive at the airport check-in counter no later than 15 minutes after the scheduled departure time.

That's great news for travelers who just missed their flight. However, if you're looking to change your flight to another date — or another destination entirely — you'll need to make those changes before the scheduled departure time.

Which American Airlines flights can be changed online

American Airlines has a restrictive policy on which flights can be changed online. For the best chance of changing a flight online, use American Airlines' website to book a flight entirely operated by American Airlines and pay using a credit card — instead of a travel credit.

You won't be able to change your American Airlines flight online in certain cases, such as:

  • You booked a basic economy fare.

  • You used a gift card, trip credit or voucher to pay for all or part of the flight.

  • You're trying to rebook the same cabin on the same flight at a lower price.

  • The flight was booked through AAVacations or another online travel agency.

  • The itinerary includes a flight operated by a partner airline — even if it's a codeshare with an American Airlines flight number.

If your flight isn't eligible to be changed online, you'll need to call American Airlines’ reservations number to change your flights.

How to rebook your American Airlines flight for a cheaper fare

Found a cheaper American flight? Here's how to rebook this cheaper fare. You can start your flight change in one of two ways.

1. Visit American's homepage or log into your account

The first option is to open aa.com and click "Manage trips/check-in." Enter your last name and flight confirmation code. Then, click "Find your trip."

The other way to retrieve your flight is to log into your AAdvantage account, click the AAdvantage tab in the top menu bar and navigate to "Your trips” to browse your upcoming trips. Then, click "Select" next to the trip you want to change.

2. Start the flight change

Once you’re on the trip page, you should see a big blue button on the left-hand side of the page that says "Change trip." Click this button to start your flight change.

On the next page, click the checkbox next to "Yes, I want to change this flight" to open the flight search options.

Make any changes you want to the route, date, time of day, class of service and fare type. Then, click "Continue."

3. Review and select new flights

On the next page, you'll see all of your new flight options and the credit or cost for each one. You can sort these results by price, number of stops, departure time, arrival time or travel time.

Note that American Airlines no longer gives you the option to rebook your same flight at a lower price. If you want to capture a price drop, you'll need to select a different flight — at least at first. You can always change back to your original flight after confirming the first change.

Depending on your fare type, you may be given the option to upgrade to Main Plus or to pay more to make the booking refundable.

Once you've selected your new flight and fare options, you'll need to confirm your choice. If you're happy with the flight, click the "continue" button at the bottom.

Then, select your seats on the next page.

4. Confirm your flight change

Next, American Airlines will confirm the details of the new flight along with either the credit amount or the amount you need to pay — if any.

At the bottom of this page, enter your email address for the receipt and check the box to agree to the terms and conditions. Finally, click "submit change" to submit your change request.

Finally, American Airlines will confirm that your trip was changed and provide a new record locator and ticket number for your new flight.

5. Find your flight credit

After you change your flight, American Airlines will send you an email with the trip credit number. Or, if you're an AAdvantage member, you can check your AAdvantage Wallet to see your travel credits.

How to find cheap American Airlines flights

The best way to shop for cheaper American Airlines flights is to set a "track prices" alert on Google Flights. To do this, perform a Google Flights search for the route and date that you booked. To limit to American Airlines, click the "airline" filter and select American Airlines.

If you want to be alerted to a price drop on any flight scheduled that day, toggle the button to "Track prices" at the top left of the search results page.

If you only want to track prices for a specific flight, select that flight from the results, then toggle the "Track prices" button on the next page, as shown below.

Google Flights will start tracking flights and email you when the price changes. If the price drops, hurry over to American Airlines' website to rebook the flight at the lower fare.

Getting cheap AA flights when rebooking recapped

Now that American Airlines has eliminated change fees, travelers can save when flight prices drop. When you see a price drop, log into your reservation and click on the blue "change flight" button to start a flight change. You can change to a cheaper flight in just a few steps and no fees.

If you want to keep your current flight, American Airlines has added a bit more complexity. You'll first need to confirm the change to a different flight before changing back to your original flight. At the end of the process, you'll score a travel credit for the price difference.

The trickiest part is finding out when prices drop, but you can use a flight price tracking service like Google Flights to automate this.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Cards for American Airlines from our Partners
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
4.6
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x

Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

Miles

Intro offer

70,000

Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

75,000

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Points
See more cards
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