After having “non-rev” privileges with Southwest Airlines, Christy dove into the world of points and miles so she could continue traveling for free. Her other passion is personal finance, and is a cer...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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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.
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 for all tickets (except Basic Economy fares) — 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 major airlines’ policies.
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 March 31, 2022, and elite status requirements were lowered for 2021 (available to earn through February 28, 2022).
Explore our specific elite status extension details for American Airlines, along with what other major airlines are granting for their elite status travelers.
While AAdvantage elite members received a special one-time credit to use toward an American Airlines Vacations package, this needed to be used as of December 20, 2021.
The AAdvantage program has ditched its current set of elite-status requirements (consisting of Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs), Elite Qualifying Segments (EQS), and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs)) and introduced Loyalty Points, starting March 1, 2022.
Here’s a look at how many Loyalty Points you’ll need to earn to reach or retain each level of AAdvantage elite status in 2023:
American is also giving another 6-month extension to all systemwide upgrade certificates that have an expiration date of July 31, 2022.
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.”
On the recent Q3 2021 earnings report, American notes that it “continues to expect robust demand during peak travel periods in the fourth quarter, with more than 6,000 peak-day departures.”
It has also been starting and resuming more services to more outdoor-specific destinations, such as Colorado, Utah, and Florida into 2022.
During Q3, American announced new codeshare partners with IndiGo, India’s leading airline. In Q4, a codeshare agreement was reached with AerLingus, based in Ireland. These will expand American Airlines’ international footprint.
On their Q2 2021 earnings report, American also stated that it expects to fly more than 80% of its international seat capacity as compared to 2019.
American Airlines received governmental aid and loans as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the terms of this $65+ billion aid, all airlines — including American Airlines — were barred from cutting jobs through September 30, 2020. These protections have since expired.
These open lounges will have a modified food and drink service:
Additional safety precautions have been made in the cabin as a result of the pandemic.
When you check-in online for your trip, you can now check 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:
For more information, check out the AA site.
Food and beverage service has been altered based on the duration of your flight and your cabin:
|Cabin||Flights Under 250 Miles||
Flights Over 250 Miles
Main Cabin Extra
|Non-alcoholic beverage service upon request||
In addition, beer and wine are available in the Main Cabin on long-haul international flights to Europe, Asia, and Australia.
|Cabin||Flights Under 500 Miles||
Flights Between 500 and 899 Miles
|Flights Between 900 and 2,199 Miles/Up to 4.5 Hours||Flights Over 2,200 Miles/Over 4.5 Hours|
American Airlines also states that “you’re welcome to bring snacks and soft drinks on board to enjoy during your flight.”
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.
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 every 2-4 minutes.”
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.
Hot Tip: On April 18, 2022 a federal judge struck down the federal mask mandate and therefore American Airlines is no longer requiring masks on planes.
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.
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.”
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.
The digital health passport app VeriFLY is in place to assist with rapidly changing environments. When traveling internationally, the app will check 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.
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.
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. Onboard, 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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