Ticket Validity (AA)
Non-refundable tickets on AA are generally valid for one year from date of issue (not always the date of purchase, since ticketing is a manual process in Sabre and can be slow at times).
If the associated reservation is cancelled, a nonrefundable e-ticket remains in AA's system bearing its full face value. At the time of rebooking, the change fee is deducted and the remaining value is applied to the new itinerary as payment.
- The new ticket for which the ticket is exchanged must be for the same traveler as the original ticket.
- Travel on the new itinerary must begin by the date one year after the original date of issue.
- Generally, nonrefundable tickets can only be exchanged toward other nonrefundable fares.
If the ticket has been exchanged for a ticket of lesser value, the difference is issued as a voucher.
The voucher rules are much more flexible:
- Vouchers, although also technically non-transferable, can be used to buy tickets for other travelers, if presented by the person named on the voucher.
- Vouchers are generally good for one year from date of issue. In the example above, the difference voucher would be good for one year from its issue (the date of rebooking), whereas the ticket itself is still only valid for one year from the original booking.
- If a voucher is only partially used, a residual voucher is issued for the difference (with a new date of issue, and thus the expiration has been extended).
The key to understanding this difference is that as far as AA's system is concerned, the first use of the value from the cancelled ticket constitutes a rebooking of that cancelled trip - even if for an entirely different origin, destination, and dates - and is thus subject to the same nontransferability and expiration date. Any value not used at that time is "freed" to become a voucher, which is an entirely new document.
Vouchers generated by rebookings in the above described manner can also be entered as "credits" on other reservations, even before they are actually mailed out, though this probably takes an experienced agent.
Here's an example of how the difference between ticket validity/usage rules and voucher validity/usage rules can be meaningful: A nonrefundable ticket worth $1100, issued 8/1/05, is cancelled on 1/1/06.
After the applicable change fee (we'll use $100 for this example), our hypothetical traveler has $1000 of value, but this value must be used for that same person to travel (not anyone else), and the new travel must commence by 8/1/06.
On 4/1/06, our hypothetical traveler books two new trips - one for self that costs only $200 and departs 6/1/06, and one for a friend that costs $300 and departs 10/1/06.
By rebooking the trip for the original traveler within the original year of validity, the original ticket conditions have been satisfied and an $800 voucher is issued in AA's system for the remaining value. Some of the value of that voucher can then be applied as a "credit" to the next trip, preferably on the same call (note that since the voucher's date of issue is "fresh," the second trip is not subject to the original ticket's expiration, nor its requirements about who travels). Finally, after all the ticketing is complete, an actual paper voucher for the now-remaining $500, bearing date of issue 4/1/06, should arrive in the mail. All of this takes some legwork by the agent, in the form of careful cross-referencing and annotation of the PNRs, but it's possible.
Note that if these two reservations were not ticketed at once, the immediate re-application would be nearly impossible to do, since the traveler would have to wait for the difference voucher to arrive in the mail from TDS, which might not happen in time for it to be used in ticketing the next trip.