American’s award chart prices increased quite a bit last March. Prices went up astronomically for international first class awards to many destinations.
As a result, many people booked award trips in first class far off into the future, figuring that they could change the dates later. The idea was to lock in the price by issuing tickets prior to March 22 of last year, and then change the award as-needed.
American made its change rules clear but over the past year members have tilted at windmills trying to get those rules honored for anymore more than just a simple date change.
For instance, American has a “drop a segment rule.” You can drop a segment as long as your origin/destination remain in the same region.
- If you were flying Washington DC – New York JFK – Hong Kong you could drop the Washington DC – New York JFK segment.
- This combines with a rule that you can change your routing as long as the origin and destination (and award type) remain the same. It’s possible to change Washington DC – Chicago – Hong Kong to Washington DC – Los Angeles – Hong Kong.
- Taking the two together, you could change Washington DC – Chicago – Hong Kong to Washington DC – Los Angeles – Hong Kong and then drop the Washington DC – Los Angeles segment — in effect changing your city of origin from DC to Los Angeles. All kosher under American’s rules, which they happily confirmed.
Yet plenty of members have had problems getting these rules honored.
Here’s the Drop a Segment Rule from JonNYC at TravelingBetter:
NOTE – This Dropping OWFA Segments also applies to awards that expired 22MAR16.
Unfortunately there is some confusion because another document he unearthed claims that any change to origin or destination requires a change of award and miles.
If the Origin, Destination or booking inventory changes, (awards issued with voluntary downgrades are only exception to booking inventory) the only option is Reinstate/Claim.
This statement that the only exception being voluntary downgrades (e.g. a flight segment on a business class award was booked in coach, and business opens up later) is not true because it fails to account for the ‘drop a segment’ rule. But it appears definitive. And agents who are familiar with or find this document in their research deny members the ability to drop a segment as promised.
Pre-devaluation awards won’t be an issue much longer, anything issued in mid-March 2016 will require travel by mid-March 2017. However there are plenty of people with awards outstanding looking to make changes based on the policies in place (and shared by American) at the time they booked their tickets, and they’re having to hang up, call back many times to have those rules honored.