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You Should Probably Just Cancel Your Avios Booking Instead of Paying a Change Fee

Here’s a quirky thing I somehow just learned about Avios bookings:

I made a booking for a friend using Avios miles and I wanted to change one of the flights. Changing the flight would cost $40. If I canceled the itinerary and just booked it again, they would only charge $5 for the cancellation fee. Both flights still had availability, I cancelled and re-booked, which saved me $35. I have no idea why they do that, but I just thought I’d pass along.

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  1. I assume this was a domestic AA Avios ticket.

    I read somewhere that if you cancel an Avios ticket, they will only take the change fee out of the taxes you paid: which for a USA roundtrip would tend to be $5. Hence, you didn’t owe more.

    I also recall reading that this isn’t an “official” program policy — it’s just the way their system works. With this in mind, the advice I’ve seen is to always book Avios reservations one way. If you had done this, the fee would only have been $2.50, I believe.

    I myself would be interested in learning more about this — especially since US Airways bookings should go “live” next week on Avios when they join oneworld. Obviously, for only a $2.50 risk, it would often pay to book award travel even if your plans aren’t 100% certain, or if you wanted to “hold out” for a better flight. A $40 change fee obviously makes one think about one’s plans more carefully.

    • When I was 1K with United I made award bookings any time a trip crossed my mind, and I’d cancel with impunity. I wish I knew about this Avios deal earlier.

      • The Southwest frequent flyer program works that way for everyone.

        With domestic airfares heading sky-high, I recommend that folks who play the credit card sign-up game get the 2 50K Southwest credit cards, and then spend 10K total. You then get 110K Rapid Rewards to play around with, with your companion going free (even on award tickets). And there’s never a penalty to cancel award tickets. I actually think this program works well in conjunction with using Avios on AA/US. Not as glamorous as those blogs which talk about all their int’l biz class tickets (who has time for THAT?), but very practical.

  2. Avios are the currency everyone is willing to spend on their friends. A real friend would have use AA miles and booked a 5th freedom on Cathy from NY to Vancouver then onto their final destination.

    • A real friend would tell their friend to get their own damn credit cards :)

      • Agreed, but I book Avios flights for friends and family all the time. I think the “change fee” is only $2.50 if you have a non-stop, one way flight.

  3. One time a rep told me (read: it may or may not be true) that you don’t get the taxes&fees back when you cancel, only when you change. On tickets with higher taxes, like shorthauls between the US and Canada, she said you’re better off changing than cancelling.