Booking award tickets isn’t the easiest thing in the world. For true peace of mind, you would have to book far in advance–ideally 330 days out to guarantee availability. With nearly a year before travel though, things can happen that could impact your trip, so its important to know what the airlines policy is on award ticket changes and the types of fees they’ll incur.
Even when you book close to your travel date, sometimes you need to adjust your plans. Below is a roundup of the award change policies and fees for the major airlines. You can make your bookings in advance or last minute with confidence when you know the consequences of changing flights.
Alaska Airlines is pretty generous with its change/cancellation policy on award tickets. They can be changed or cancelled free of charge within 24 hours of booking. Beyond that, a $125 fee will be tacked on when the change or cancellation is made within 60 days prior to departure. Paying the $125 cancellation fee will ensure the miles are redeposited into your account, ready for future use.
For simple date changes, American Airlines imposes a $75 fee if the new travel date is within 21 days of the original booking date. The fee is waived for AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, and Executive Platinum members. If you’re looking to change the origin or destination of an award, the fee doubles to $150. Top-tier AAdvantage Executive Platinum members are exempt from paying this fee.
Passengers looking to change the award type (e.g. changing an AAnytime award to an AAdvantage award), the award will need to be cancelled, miles redeposited, and the ticket rebooked. The charge for this is $150, though additional awards redeposited into the account will incur a fee of just $125. Once again, Executive Platinum members get the fee waived entirely.
Delta allows award changes and cancellations up to 72 hours before departure. The same $150 fee applies to both award changes and redepositing miles from a cancelled ticket. The fee is waived for Delta Diamond and Platinum members.
United charges $75 for award changes (excluding origin or destination changes) made 21 days prior to departure. The fee is waived for all elite members and those who are registered with Global Services. Passengers wishing to make changes to origin or destination will need to pay $100. For awards booked less than 21 days before departure, a $100 fee applies. The fee is reduced to $50 for Premier Silver members, $25 for Gold members, and waived for Global Services, Premier Platinum, and Premier 1K members.
If you decide to throw in the towel and cancel a trip, you can request to have the miles redeposited for a $200 fee. This request can be made up to one year from the original date of issue. United Premier Silver members get to pay a reduced fee of $125, Gold members pay $100, and all other top-tier elites and Global Services members get it waived completely.
It’s worth noting that the cut-off for changes to awards on Star Alliance partners is 24 hours before departure. For flights to Japan on All Nippon Airways, all changes must be made at least four days before departure to receive a credit.
A $150 fee applies to all award changes. Canceling a ticket is also an option as long as the trip has not begun. A $150 fee is imposed if passengers want their miles redeposited after a cancelled trip. Unused award tickets can be redeposited into your Dividend Miles account within one year of the date of issue.
Being well-versed in airline policies can reduce a great deal of stress when it comes time to cancel an award. These policies may even influence the reward currencies you choose to invest in or utilize for trips.