Really, American Airlines? You Still Use This Ancient Award Ticketing Rule?

by joeheg

When it comes to booking award tickets on American Airlines, I’ll admit I’m not an expert. While we fly on American’s planes at least one or more times a year, I’ll book flights with Avios just as often as AAdvantage miles if there’s saver space available. That’s why I hadn’t run into this roadblock regarding booking award flights on the AA website until now.

I decided to splurge and pay 45K AAdvantage miles each for two first-class seats on our positioning flight from Orlando to Los Angeles. As I mentioned, we have enough miles to splurge because of our canceled trips to Japan.

Since Sharon had more miles than I did, I booked the reservation with her account. I went through the process and came to the payment screen where I entered the information from my Sapphire Reserve card (to get the best travel coverage available.)

That’s when I received this pop-up box.

a close-up of a white background

The first name and last name on the credit card must be an exact match to what is on the Advantage account. Please correct the name and continue.

American Airlines requires the name on the credit card for an award booking to be the same as the name on the account. I had never heard of this before but I’ve had previous problems dealing with AA’s website when using a travel voucher.

As a reminder, this charge was for $11.20, the price of the taxes for the two domestic award tickets.

I didn’t want to have to call American Airlines to have them book the ticket so I used Sharon’s Sapphire Preferred card instead.

However, I couldn’t believe American has this rule in place, as there are instances where a person with an AAdvantage account might not be the one paying the award fees:

  • A spouse or partner paying with their card
  • Elderly passengers without credit cards
  • Minors who do not have credit cards
  • Parents booking tickets for grown children who want to pay the fees with a credit card in their name

The last one could be important when traveling internationally because airlines can ask to see the card you used to book the ticket when checking in. If you don’t have the card, like if someone books an award flight for you and are required to use their card by the website, the airline can deny boarding or cause a delay so you miss your flight.

I searched but couldn’t find this requirement in writing anywhere on American Airlines’ website. However, this isn’t a new policy as I’ve found threads on Flyer Talk going back to 2006 where people had the same problems.

Most of the instances involved one of the situations I mentioned above. In the cases where people called American, they were told several ways to fix the problem (I’m not saying to do any of these things or do I have any knowledge that they work):

  • Put the reservation on hold and call to complete payment on the phone
  • Drive to the airport and pay the fees in cash at the counter
  • Use the credit card you want with your billing information but enter the name as the AAdvantage account holder

From what people wrote, the last one works because AA doesn’t verify the name with the banks; only the account number, zip code and CVV have to match for the payment to go through.

Other suggestions included adding the person you were booking a ticket for as an authorized user on your account.

If it was me and I didn’t have a credit card in Sharon’s name to use for the payment, I’d probably try the trick of using my CC number and just putting Sharon’s name. Since I’ll be traveling with her, I’ll have my credit card if they ask.

However, if I wanted to try and avoid any hassles, calling and having an agent complete the payment on the phone seems to be the safest bet.

I’m sure American Airlines has this rule in place to prevent fraud and/or to keep people from “selling” award tickets. However, this block has been in place for almost 2 decades. Couldn’t they have found a better way to prevent fraud by now, instead of having a system where all you need to do is type in the account holder’s name in the credit card payment because the system doesn’t check that anyway?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Gene October 25, 2022 - 2:19 pm

I’ve boked tickets for my sister multiple times, and I’ve never had a problem. Likewise, my spouse has booked tickets for family members (some with different last names) and never had a problem. This sounds NEW to me.

joeheg October 25, 2022 - 3:08 pm

You’re allowed to book tickets for anyone, that hasn’t changed. It’s when you go to pay for the award ticket, you have to use a credit card with the same name as the AAdvantage account you’re taking the miles from.

Gene October 25, 2022 - 4:17 pm



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