PSA: You Cannot Use AA Gift Certificates for American Airlines Basic Economy Tickets [Partially True]

Updated 3:30pm PT on 2/8: I just received an update from Brant, here is what he said:

After another lengthy phone call to AA, turns out that the agent I originally talked to yesterday was only half correct. You CAN use GC’s to buy a basic economy fare, which I was told you could not. However, you cannot use residual funds from a canceled ticket purchased with a GC to book another flight in a lower category. The original tickets were in economy and I was trying to use the funds for basic economy. The original agent assumed that this restriction applied to using GC’s to make a basic economy ticket from the start. In other words, bad information.

Sorry for the misinformation everyone  it looks like you can use AA gift cards to buy American Airlines basic economy tickets, but only if the AA funds do not come from a regular American Airlines economy ticket  I hope that makes sense.

Good morning everyone, I just received a Facebook message from my friend, Brant, that I wanted to share with everyone (he said it would be helpful for others to know).  Here is what Brant said:

So, I just got off the phone with American Airlines and after a 30 minute ordeal I discovered something interesting that you might want to write on your blog for those who have been collecting AA gift certificates. I have around $2,700 worth of certificates that I bought using airline credit on AMEX Plat, Chase Sapphire Reserve, etc. Anyway, you cannot purchase a “basic economy” tickets using gift certificates. No way, no how, period even if you have status with AA. Just an interesting but aggravating fact you might want to mention.

I don’t fly American Airlines very often and don’t have any AA gift certificates, so I can’t verify this information.  It does seem very strange that American Airlines does not allow AA gift certificates to be used for basic economy tickets, but I am sure they have a good reason for not doing so.  Has anyone tried to book an American Airlines basic economy ticket using AA gift certificates?  Were you able to do so or were you unsuccessful?

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

16 thoughts on “PSA: You Cannot Use AA Gift Certificates for American Airlines Basic Economy Tickets [Partially True]

  1. dave

    You also can’t use them for flights originating outside the USA. Tried to use them to get home from Cancun. AA reps had no idea why it wasn’t working I eventually figured it out for them. Good news is I got upgraded on both legs due to my Platinum Pro trial offer :-)

    1. Grant Post author

      Strange that it doesn’t work on flights originating outside the US. Was it a codeshare flight? Glad you got upgraded with your status :)

      1. daVE

        AA metal. It’s in the T&C. Also wouldn’t work yesterday with United gift registry but that may have been because it was on partner and not originating or arriving in USA.

    1. Grant Post author

      I think that is true of other airlines too. I tried to use a United Airlines travel voucher to cover the cash portion of an award ticket and it didn’t work.

  2. BJ McKay

    Any idea when this policy started? I tried using some online… checked balance on AA GC balance-check landing page. Cards had a balance, booked ticket, went through. No call, just an email 2-3 days later stating my ticket was not successfully booked. Odd how landing page for balance check noted $__ was still unused, and secondly, when paying for ticket allowed me to ise GC’s. Something weird going on here.

    What exactly does AA suggest we use GC’s for? FC and J passengers likely dont stockpile GCs? (Im sure there are exceptions. This GC thing completely screwed up a reservation Id thought Id successfully made -winding up costing me $400-$500 more as I was w/in 14 days by the time I read their email. (again, no phone call). Thought Id share my good news w/ AA GCs. Good luck y’all.

    1. Grant Post author

      You can use the American Airlines gift cards for any economy ticket, as long as it’s not basically economy. Sorry you got screwed by AA’s strange GC policy and no notice cancelation.

  3. Alex2

    I find this very strange. I just booked 2 Basic Economy tickets with GC yesterday and I got confirmation emails. Only things I can think of that would be unique would be I booked one way tickets, these were on regional planes and not mainline , and I used online GC. I also put a few dollars of the total ticket cost on a credit card for travel delay insurance.

  4. Daniel

    I am unaware of any such restriction, I have however noticed that you cannot use a gift card on if you have made a seat selection as their system doesn’t allow it. The gift card itself can only be used for fare and taxes, the seat assignment or other ancillaries would be excluded. Unfortunately, due to the system restriction, you must book a flight, without a seat, then go back into your reservation and add the seat after the fact, paying for it with a credit card.

    Bottom line, I don’t believe there is a restriction in the T&C related to basic economy, the agent you spoke to on the phone was either misinformed or lying, hang up and call again.

  5. dan

    I don’t even know where on the website to use the GC. on the payment screen there is no option. Do you have to call to use?


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