Apparently it’s common knowledge to many people, but I had no idea:
Canceling an award flight, even within 24 hours, is expensive.
I used 20k miles recently to surprise a friend with a flight to join us in Hawaii.
When we called her to tell her, she was psyched but told us she’d be moving from South Carolina to Florida before the trip would happen.
No big deal, I thought, I’ll just cancel that return flight and re-book it returning to Tampa instead.
American Airlines will refund your ticket as long as you cancel within 24 hours, right?
Well, sort of.
Pay in cash and cancel, you can get a refund within 24 hours.
Pay in miles and cancel, you don’t get your miles back unless you pay a $150 redeposit fee.
I stupidly didn’t think to check on this.
Here’s a handy chart from One Mile at a Time, which I found after my mistake:
Luckily I booked the outbound flight with Citi ThankYou points in Citi’s travel portal, which does allow you to cancel without penalty.
The blow was also softened a bit by the 10% rebate from my Barclays AA Aviator card:
I contacted AA a couple weeks ago asking for an exemption.
Am I gonna pay $150 to get my 20.25k miles back? No.
I would probably get more than $150 in value out of them, but I can neither bear to buy my own miles, nor afford it at the moment.
At least it’s not as bad as the $400 ticket I got for barely, very slowly rolling through a right turn at a red light with a camera.
Please comment if you have a travel mistake story you’d be willing to share. Please. I feel so alone. I’m alone on an island of stupidity.
*Update: Good news! American Airlines made my St. Patrick’s Day.
*Update 2: I learned that unlike American, Delta and United do allow you to cancel your award ticket within 24 hours of purchase and receive a full refund of your miles & money.