American Express: No Fee Changes/Cancels American Airlines Flights
Last week, I posted American Express Platinum Card Benefits: Ultimate Guide Including Details of Each Perk and How to Maximize. So basically, I thought I knew everything there was to know.) Well, I recently called Amex Travel to find out about Platinum’s International Airline Program benefit and to see if it could save me some money. I got to chatting with the rep about the benefits of booking through Amex Travel in general and he told me something amazing. Something, I had never heard before. Are you ready for this? American Express has access to American Airlines private fares that have no change or cancellation fees. That’s right, if you book a private AA fare through Amex Travel, you can change the flight for no fee.
Save money and earn a ton of AA miles? Sign me up! Of course, you may have to pay the price difference in fares if your new flight is more expensive. If your plans change and you need to reschedule your flight, you simply call Amex Travel and they will do it for you. Even better? You don’t have to call anymore! There’s a new chat function that allows you to speak with a live agent right in the chat box, details in this post: My New Favorite Travel and Airfare Perk From Amex Membership Rewards! Book Through Chat. If you need to cancel, you will receive a credit in Amex Travel that is good for up to one year from the original ticket date and can be used for any American Airlines flight.
How Widespread Are these Amex American Private Fares
This got me to wondering if these “private fares” were unicorns or if they had decent availability. I asked the rep to do a search for a specific itinerary only on AA for these types of fares. The good news is that she was able to find a bunch of fare options for the dates and times I requested and the savings was pretty significant. A flight that cost $615 regularly was priced at $524, the bad news is that there is a $39 booking fee per ticket. So the effective cash price is $563. If you book these flights with your business platinum account, you can use the 35% Pay with Points rebate which would net you at about $380 for the ticket including the fee. Guide: American Express Business Platinum 35% Point Rebate Airline Bonus
You’ll also earn 5x Membership Rewards on this booking with your Platinum card. Right now is a great time to apply for Platinum Cards as there are 100k Offers available on the personal version. Click here for instructions and how to see if you’re eligible for the 100k Membership Rewards Offer.
Key Details of Private Fares
- “Private Fare” tickets are nonrefundable and nontransferable
- There is no change fee from the airline, but if there is any difference in fare that would be charged.
- Changes and cancellations must be made before flight time or the ticket could have a $0 value.
- If you have to cancel, you would have a credit to use with the airline, and must be used and new dates traveled by a year from the issued date. (1 year from the date you are ticketed)
- Credit value must be used within 1 year
What is Upfare?
Almost every First, Business or Premium Economy Class ticket is an “up” fare. An “up” fare is a discounted First, Business, or Premium Economy ticket where, in the case of a last minute equipment/plane change, the airline could downgrade you to a lower cabin without compensation, normally you would be given the option to stay in the fare class but move to a different flight. Basically, you should look at it as an economy ticket with an instant upgrade.
If you’re familiar with booking through the Amex Travel Portal, you may have asked yourself, why would I need to call and pay $39 when I can book “insider fares online.” Insider fares do not say anything about change fees, so presumably, the regular rules still apply. Also, if you book an insider fare you must pay the complete amount with points in order to be eligible for the discounted rate, whereas when Amex books it for you payment with points can be made partially. Last, you will receive full EQMs and EQD’s which is very important to you if you are trying to qualify for elite status. Based on the few data points I’ve come across, it seems the insider fares booked through the site are treated as special fares and earn less.
Generally, flight times and price are the two biggest factors in choosing flights, this trick addresses both of these issues. Booking American Airlines through American Express travel can save you hundreds of dollars and take a lot of the stress out of booking travel. After the news that Alaska Airlines will change their generous policies, this should be welcome news for everyone. Additionally, American Express offers some of the best returns on airfare, so there really is no downside.