American Airlines: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Updates – Cancellation Policies, Status Changes, Routes, and More

American Airlines Admirals Club Lounge LAX
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Domestic and international service on American Airlines has been seriously impacted by COVID-19. If you have a trip booked with American Airlines in the foreseeable future, you might have some questions.

What do you do if you want to cancel an upcoming trip due to the uncertainty of the situation, or for medical reasons? Will you still be able to maintain your AAdvantage elite status? If you have to fly, are there any lounges open? What precautions is American Airlines taking to keep you safe during your flight? Do you need to provide a negative COVID-19 test to fly?

This article will answer all of your COVID-19 questions related to American Airlines.

Cancellation Policies

American Airlines has offered a more flexible change policy and waived cancellation fees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies apply to both paid and award tickets — including non-refundable tickets.

We’ve broken down American Airlines’ change and cancellation policies due to COVID-19 in great detail. Click the link for full details, along with the other airlines’ policies.

Loyalty Extensions/Status Upgrades

American Airlines is offering some concessions for its customers. For example, award tickets can be canceled without any redeposit fees, elite status has been extended through 2022, and elite status requirements have been lowered for 2021.

Explore our specific elite status extension details for American Airlines, along with what other airlines are granting for their elite status travelers.

American Airlines Vacation Credit

On July 1, 2020, AAdvantage elite members received a special 1-time credit to use toward an American Airlines Vacations package. The amount received depended on your elite status as of June 30, 2020.

AAdvantage Program Changes

As of October 1, 2020, American now allows systemwide upgrades from Basic Economy tickets and AAdvantage members will receive their full benefits when flying on a Basic Economy ticket.

Unfortunately, as of January 1, 2021, elites no longer earn elite-qualifying miles, segments, or dollars on Basic Economy tickets.

American Airlines is offering a few unique ways to retain your AAdvantage Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, or Executive Platinum status through January 31, 2023:

  • Spend at least $15,000 on eligible purchases with an eligible AAdvantage credit card between July 15, 2021, and November 15, 2021, or
  • Earn at least $2,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on eligible airline tickets flown between September 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021

Also in 2021, Platinum Pro members can expect to earn systemwide upgrades, and these members, as well as Executive Platinum members, can expect even more rewards to chose from like Admirals Club day passes, bonus miles, and merchandise.

Flight Reductions and Cancellations

American Airlines specifically notes that significant schedule changes were made “due to significantly decreased customer demand as well as government travel restrictions — both related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.”

Domestic

On a recent earnings report, American notes that it “plans to operate more than 150 new routes this summer, including several new destinations and greater connectivity in Miami, Austin, Texas, and Orlando, Florida. During the summer season, American expects to fly more than 90% of its domestic seat capacity…compared to 2019.”

This is in line with American’s plan to fly to more outdoor-specific destinations, such as Colorado, Utah, and Florida, so it appears to be planning on sustained/increased demand for these locations during 2021 and beyond.

International

On the same Q2 earnings report noted above, American also stated that it expects to fly more than 80% of its international seat capacity as compared to 2019.

There are various health testing and safety procedures in place that vary depending on which country you’ll be visiting, so be sure you know the requirements in place before you book your ticket.

Important American Airlines News

American Airlines received governmental aid as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the terms of this $50 billion aid, all airlines — including American Airlines — were barred from cutting jobs through September 30, 2020.

Of the $50 billion, American Airlines received $5.8 billion in the form of a direct grant of $4.1 billion and a low-interest rate loan of $1.7 billion. American also noted that it would “separately apply for a loan from the U.S. Treasury of approximately $4.75 billion.”

In December 2020, the second round of assistance was passed for $15 billion.

On March 10, 2021, the American Rescue Plan was passed which included $15 billion for commercial airlines. This required that airlines not layoff, furlough, or reduce salaries for employees through September 30, 2021. Layoffs and furloughs for American Airlines were canceled based on this news.

Admiral Club and Flagship Lounge Closures

On the Q2 earnings release, American Airlines noted that “all Admirals Club lounges will reopen by the end of August and American’s Flagship Lounge locations will start reopening this fall.”

For now, the following Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge locations are open:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – North Terminal, Concourse T
  • Austin (AUS) – Gate 22
  • Boston (BOS) – Terminal B
  • Charlotte (CLT) — Concourse B & C
  • Chicago (ORD) — Concourse G, H/K, and L
  • Dallas (DFW) — Terminals A, B, C, and D
  • Denver (DEN) – Concourse A
  • Houston (IAH) – Terminal A
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Terminals 4 and 5 and Eagle Regional Terminal
  • Mexico City (MEX)
  • Miami (MIA) – Gate D15 and D30
  • Nashville (BNA) – Concourse C
  • New York (JFK) – Terminal 8 (in the Flagship Lounge)
  • New York (LGA) – Concourse D
  • Newark (EWR) – Terminal A
  • Orange County (SNA) – Gate 8
  • Orlando (MCO) – Gate 55
  • Philadelphia (PHL) – Terminals B/C and F
  • Pittsburgh (PIT) – Main Lobby
  • Phoenix (PHX) – Gate A7 and B5
  • Raleigh (RDU) – Terminal 2
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Terminal 1
  • São Paulo (GRU)
  • Tampa (TPA) – Gate 85
  • Washington, D.C. (DCA) – Terminal B and C

These open lounges will have a modified food and drink service:

  • Complimentary food and beverage is available
  • Service may vary based on local guidelines
  • Touchless menus with signage and QR codes; physical menus will be available upon request.
  • Full-service bar

Safety Changes

Additional safety precautions have been made in the cabin as a result of the pandemic.

Touchless Check-In

When you check-in online for your trip, you can now check in your bags without interacting with an American Airlines employee. Simply select Checked Bags and get your mobile or printed boarding pass. At the airport, you’ll scan your boarding pass at a kiosk to automatically print your bag tag, then attach it for drop-off at bag drop.

Note that this is only available for customers who:

  • Are the only person on the reservation
  • Flying within the U.S.
  • Booked in Main Cabin

For more information, check out the AA site.

Food and Beverage Service

Food and beverage service has been altered based on the duration of your flight and your cabin:

CabinFlights Under 250 Miles

Flights Over 250 Miles

Main Cabin

Main Cabin Extra

Non-alcoholic beverage service upon request
  • Complimentary non-alcoholic beverages including water, canned drinks, juice, tea, and coffee during the flight
  • Complimentary Biscoff cookie in the morning
  • Choice of complimentary snack during the day
  • No snacks or food for purchase
  • No alcohol or meals except on long-haul international flights

 

In addition, beer and wine are available in the Main Cabin on long-haul international flights to Europe, Asia, and Australia.

CabinFlights Under 500 Miles

Flights Between 500 and 899 Miles

Flights Between 900 and 2,199 Miles/Up to 4.5 HoursFlights Over 2,200 Miles/Over 4.5 Hours
First Class

Business Class

  • Complimentary fig bar in the morning
  • Complimentary savory snack mix during the day and night
  • Full beverage service, including alcohol
  • Complimentary AM or PM Snack Basket
  • Complimentary savory snack mix at night
  • Full beverage service, including alcohol
  • Complimentary fresh snacks during the day
  • Complimentary savory snack mix at night
  • Full beverage service, including alcohol
  • Complimentary Fresh Bites like fresh fruit and yogurt in the morning and sandwiches and salads for lunch and dinner
  • Complimentary PM Snack Basket at night
  • Full beverage service, including alcohol

Additionally, the airline has confirmed that hot food will be returning to first class in the fall.

American Airlines also states that “you’re welcome to bring snacks and soft drinks on board to enjoy during your flight.”

Seating Arrangements

As of July 1, 2020, American Airlines no longer caps capacity on its flights and will sell to capacity, so be aware that you might be sitting next to other passengers.

Disinfection Changes

American Airlines Electrostatic Spraying
AA planes regularly undergo deep cleaning. Image Credit: American Airlines

American Airlines notes that its cleaning practices “have always met or exceeded all CDC guidelines” and are cleaned daily with an EPA-approved disinfectant. All planes also undergo a deep cleaning procedure “on a regularly scheduled basis.”

It also states that “most of our planes have High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that provide a complete air change approximately 15-30 times per hour.”

In response to COVID-19 specifically, it has begun “enhancing cleaning procedures on international flights and planes that stay overnight at an airport” and providing hand sanitizer and wipes to crews on international flights.

Starting in May 2020, American expanded the cleaning procedure to include thorough cleaning in customer areas, tray tables, seatbelt buckles, armrests, window shades, and seatback screens; it also includes wiping door and overhead bin handles. The procedure also calls for enhanced cleaning in team member areas, jumpseats, crew rest seats, cockpit surfaces, and the galley.

In December 2020, American Airlines achieved the GBAC STAR Accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for all of its aircraft and lounges — the first of any major airline to have this.

Face Masks

American Airlines masked flight attendant and passengers
Flight attendants and passengers are required to wear face masks. Image Credit: American Airlines

Flight Attendants

As of May 1, 2020, American Airlines requires masks for all flight attendants during every mainline and regional flight. A drawer has been added in galleys on every flight containing personal protective equipment, including masks for flight attendants and pilots and other sanitizing items. Furthermore, American will also distribute face masks and either sanitizing wipes or gels to passengers who need them.

Passengers

As of June 16, 2020, stricter requirements regarding face masks went into effect. To start, you must wear a mask or be denied boarding — even if you have a valid medical condition that precludes you from wearing one. Masks are required for everyone above the age of 2. See the updated mask policy here.

American released a statement that it “may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering. American made this change after working in conjunction with Airlines for America on an industrywide response.”

Boarding Process Changes

The standard boarding policy stated that you needed to be at the gate 15 minutes before departure for domestic flights and 30 minutes for international ones. As of April 27, 2020, American has added an additional 15 minutes to those requirements, moving to 30- to 50-minute boarding windows. Furthermore, boarding used to end 10 minutes before departure; now, that’ll be 15.

For more information on boarding order, see AA’s website.

Health Assessment

As of June 30, 2020, there is a health assessment added during the check-in process to certify that individuals have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 10 days. This checklist, developed with assistance by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, must be completed for each customer using self-service machines in airports or during online check-in at home.

VeriFLY App

The digital health passport app VeriFLY is in place to assist with rapidly changing environments. When traveling internationally, the app will checks whether the information and documents provided by the passengers are correct and in compliance with local authorities’ regulations.

If you travel internationally on American Airlines, be sure to download the VeriFLY app (iOS or Android). Within the app, you are able to select a destination and upload/show evidence of negative test results at the airport — all within 1 streamlined process. This will make it faster than showing paper results at the airport check-in counter.

Fleet Changes

In 2020, American Airlines retired 5 aircraft types (Embraer 190, Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Airbus A330, and Bombardier CRJ200), along with a number of older regional aircraft. The company also placed some Boeing 737-800 aircraft into storage.

Combined, these changes removed more than 150 aircraft from the fleet.

American Airlines also reached an agreement with Boeing to defer deliveries of 18 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Currently, 5 of the 18 737 MAX deferral rights have been exercised.

Final Thoughts

While this situation is constantly changing, it’s nice to see that American Airlines is trying to take care of its frequent flyers by allowing additional ways to maintain elite status and providing free changes.

If you must travel, there are increased measures to keep you safe at the airport and on your flight. Lounges have slowly been reopening with additional safety measures in place. On board, additional steps to disinfect surfaces have been put in place. From reduced food and beverage services to masks on passengers, your next flight might look a bit different.


Frequently asked questions

Is American Airlines offering refunds for coronavirus?

You are currently able to change your flight free of charge. If your flight is canceled by American Airlines or rescheduled by more than 4 hours, you are entitled to a full refund. If you voluntarily canceled the flight, you will receive a voucher (except for Basic Economy tickets).

Is American Airlines extending elite status?

Yes, American Airlines is extending elite status for AAdvantage members until January 31, 2022. In addition, qualifying minimums have been reduced to achieve elite status for 2021 and additional opportunities to maintain elite status through 2023 have been announced.

Do I need to take a COVID-19 test before flying on American Airlines?

American Airlines itself is not requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test to fly. However, if you are flying to a location that is requiring a negative COVID-19 test, it will ask for proof prior to boarding.

Currently, you must show evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to travel back to the U.S. from international destinations. Check the American Airlines COVID-19 site for more details.

Do I need to wear a mask on American Airlines?

Yes. Federal law requires every passenger (over the age of 2) to wear a mask at all times in the airport and throughout the flight. Refusing to wear a mask can result in denial of boarding, removal from the aircraft, and/or penalties under federal law.

Please click here to see American Airlines’ mask policy.

Christy Rodriguez

About Christy Rodriguez

Christy was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but lived in Texas the majority of her life. Now, work has her living in the Bay Area with her husband and yellow lab. Her first international travel experience was for a summer study abroad program in Italy. After that, she knew that she was destined to travel as much as possible. Luckily, her husband worked at Southwest Airlines, so they were introduced to the exciting world of “non-rev” travel.

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2 comments

  1. Stanley J Beauchemin April 28, 2021

    I am scheduled to fly from The Netherlands to Las Vegas, Nv. via Dallas Ft. Worth. I will have received both of my vaccine shots prior to my flight. With my proof of receiving both shots, is this good enough to board my point of departure?

    Reply

    • Hi Stanley,

      All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 viral test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

      Reply

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