When traveling, it’s wise to be prepared for plans to change. The chance that a flight could be severely delayed due to weather — or an unprecedented pandemic — might have you thinking twice about your trip confidence. Rather than scrap your dreams and avoid travel altogether, opt for having a backup plan.
Sometimes, that other plan might ultimately lead to requesting a refund from your carrier. If you booked a flight on American Airlines and want the cost of your ticket refunded, here’s how to get the process started.
The American Airlines refund policy
It can be difficult to navigate American Airlines’ refund policy, but here are the key parts to understand before booking:
If you cancel within 24 hours of booking and at least two days before departure, you don’t need to take additional steps to get a refund.
Basic economy tickets aren’t eligible for refunds unless they are canceled within 24 hours of booking.
A nonrefundable American Airlines fare isn’t eligible for a refund unless it is canceled within the 24-hour booking window, there has been a flight schedule change of more than four hours, the passenger or their traveling companion has died, or military orders affect the passenger’s ability to travel.
The refund process requires that you cancel the reservation for the applicable passengers first. Refund requests must be submitted individually for each ticket in a record locator.
Steps to getting a refund from American Airlines
The refund process depends on when you booked your American Airlines trip, and when the flight was canceled.
Automatic refunds are given if you cancel the booking within 24 hours of purchasing a ticket and if that purchase happened 48 hours before the flight’s departure. The carrier will refund the value of your ticket, minus service charges and sales tax.
Beyond this 24-hour window, you’ll need to be mindful of a few steps to get a refund from the airline. You can call American Airlines Reservations; however, to avoid high call volumes, you can also submit a refund request online.
1. Wait until your trip is canceled
American Airlines typically doesn’t offer refunds on nonrefundable tickets when you’ve voluntarily canceled your trip. This includes choosing to cancel your trip because you’re no longer comfortable traveling.
Nerd tip: If an involuntary cancellation or significant change or delay is made by American Airlines, you can choose to request a refund. However, sometimes you won’t know of a flight cancellation until within 24 hours of your departure time, so stay on top of your flight’s status.
An example of what the carrier considers a significant involuntary change or delay, based on its Conditions of Carriage terms, is if your departure time is delayed for more than four hours. If your flight is officially canceled and eligible for a refund, you can start the process for a refund.
2. Initiate a refund request
To get a refund for a canceled American Airlines flight, visit prefunds.aa.com. When you arrive on the page, you’ll see a pop-up box that says your ticket value is safe when you’re ready to rebook.
To continue with a refund request, click on the blue “Refunds” button.
3. Pull up your canceled booking
After clicking on the “Refunds” button, the pop-up box will close and you’ll see the information that’s in gray behind it. You’ll need the last name of the passenger associated with the canceled ticket and the ticket number.
In the “Request a Refund” section, enter your ticket number and the passenger’s last name into the respective fields. Then, click “Submit.”
The carrier will pull up the canceled reservation, and you can go through the steps to see whether the booking is eligible for a refund along with your options.
4. Verify the information of the canceled booking
Read the reservation information carefully to ensure that the correct booking was pulled for the refund request. If everything looks correct, click on the blue “Continue” button.
5. Review your refund eligibility
The next step shows you whether your booking is eligible for a refund. You can also view your other options by clicking on the blue “Options” link.
If you’re eligible for a refund, click on the blue “Continue” link to submit a formal refund request to American Airlines.
6. Enter your contact information
You’ll be asked to fill in your basic contact information. This includes your full name, address, email address (which you’ll need to enter twice) and phone number.
After completing each field, click on the blue “Continue” button.
7. Verify and review the refund request
The next step asks you to review all of the details for the refund request, including the booking information and your contact information. It will also prompt you to select a “Reason for Refund” from a drop-down menu.
Choose the option that best describes your reason for requesting a refund. There’s also a comment box to the right of the dropdown if you need to include further clarification.
When you’re ready, click on the blue “Submit” button.
If your reason for a refund requires additional documentation (such as for a medical condition), you’ll be asked to upload supporting documentation.
8. Keep your refund request confirmation number
After completing the final review and uploading any necessary supporting documents, you’ll receive a confirmation number. Keep this handy, in case you need to follow-up on a refund request or contact American Airlines about it.
You can expect a refund within seven business days if the booking was purchased using a credit card. If you haven’t received a refund and would like to check on the status of your request, you can look it up here.
How to know if your American Airlines ticket is nonrefundable
If you booked the flight on the American Airlines website, you were given the option of booking a refundable ticket. Refundable ticket perks are generally offered as an add-on during booking, resulting in a higher price compared with nonrefundable tickets.
You can also confirm the type of ticket you purchased by:
Viewing fine print on your original booking confirmation email.
Calling American Airlines reservations.
Logging into your American Airlines account to see your booking details.
The bottom line
With the right planning and foresight, submitting an American Airlines refund request doesn’t have to be a headache. As travel plans and restrictions continue to change day-by-day, having the flexibility to get a refund on your next flight can help put you at ease.
Consider booking nonrefundable American Airlines flights only if you’re fully confident that you won’t have to cancel or require a cash refund. If possible, purchase flights that are eligible for a refund in the first place so you can get your money back ASAP if the trip falls through.
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