Travel plans change all the time, so it goes without saying that consumers need to be able to change flights or cancel them altogether. By law, all airline companies need to offer consumers one of two options: either they can allow travelers to cancel their flight within 24 hours and dispense a refund or they can put the flight on hold so that the consumer locks in the current price, allowing them to shop around for a better deal.
The vast majority of airlines have adopted the former rule, where they would allow consumers to cancel their flight and receive a refund. However, up until now, American Airlines was one of the few companies that offered the hold option. This left many consumers confused when they tried to cancel their flights in the past, but now that will no longer be an issue. The Washington Post reports that the company has said that it will be switching to the cancellation policy as of today.
Hold policy still active for now
The policy change will alleviate a lot of customer confusion over why they couldn’t cancel their American flight, especially when the option is so common with other carriers. “Up until now, we’ve done it a little differently than other airlines. . . Reasonably enough, people assumed the policies were the same,” said American Airlines spokesman Josh Freed.
While the new cancellation policy may be more attractive to some consumers, the hold policy does have its merits. The system allowed consumers to put a 24-hour hold on any flight reservation that was more than a week away.
This provided something of a safety net; if the price on the flight went up, then consumers could still get the flight on the old price. If the price went down, then travelers could re-book the flight at a lower cost. The holds could also be canceled and placed on other flights, which would then give consumers another 24-hour window to keep searching for cheaper rates.
Luckily, consumers who like the hold option don’t need to say goodbye to it quite yet. While the change goes into effect as of today, consumers who want to use the hold option will still have the ability to do so for some time. Freed says that travelers will still be able to place holds on 24-hour flights booked with reward miles, and those who choose to use the American Airlines website will still be able to use it too until the company phases it out at a later date.