American Airlines Flexible vs Fully Flexible: Which One to Choose?

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If you love traveling like me, then you know that flexibility has become essential when traveling, and that is why you should know which is better between American Airlines flexible vs fully flexible. Both of these options are convenient and available according to your needs.

But which is better? What are the costs associated with the two options? What are their features and perks? I shall answer all these questions in this article. Before getting there, let us look at the difference between the main cabin’s flexible fare and fully flexible fare options.

Flexible vs Fully Flexible

American Airlines Flexible vs Fully Flexible Fares: What Is the Difference?

American Airlines’ main cabin flexible fare and fully flexible fares allow passengers to change their flight schedule. However, they have some differences, such as:


American Airlines Flexible

Fully Flexible

Changes to your flight:

Changes should be made 24 hours before your flight

You can make changes even on your flight date

Fare difference:

Main cabin flexible fares are cheaper

Fair is more expensive


In the main cabin flexible fares, you get to enjoy priority boarding and one checked bag

Two checked bags, Main Cabin Extra/Preferred Seats, PriorityAAccess

But there is still more to know about the main cabin flexible fares and fully flexible fares. Stay with me as I explain the Features and Limitations of the flexible fares.

American Airlines Flexible vs Fully Flexible Fares: What Is the Difference?

Getting to Know Flexible Fares: Characteristics and Cons

American Airlines offers flexible main cabin tickets, which provide passengers greater flexibility to change their travel schedules than their more restrictive “Main Cabin” or “Basic Economy” rates. When traveling, you should opt for the main cabin flexible fares as they have several perks.

If you choose a “Flexible” rate, you have more leeway to alter your flight itinerary, which may involve changing your departure or arrival dates. This fare class does, however, still have some characteristics and restrictions.

Characteristics of Main Cabin Flexible Fare and Reasons to Choose

The reasons you should opt for the main Flexible option:

Characteristics of Main Cabin Flexible Fare and Reasons to Choose
  • Save money when route change: You won’t have to pay the hefty costs typically associated with itinerary alterations. This is a huge boon for travelers whose schedules could change between when they make their reservation and when they are supposed to take off.
  • Additional amenities: Another reason to choose this option is that they are more beneficial because of seating selections and extra frequent flyer points.
  • Luggage area: With cabin flexible, you get a place to put your carry-on luggage easily since you are given priority while boarding compared to the basic economy tickets option.

Let me now highlight the cons that come with flexible fares.

Challenges of Flexible Fares

Flexible fares contain some restrictions even if they provide more leeway than lower-tier tickets. Here are the challenges.

Challenges of Flexible Fares
  • Pay more: Yes, there is no change fee, but you would be responsible for paying the difference in fare between the original and new flights. This can result in significant additional expenses, particularly if the new departure date is scheduled during high travel demand or if the alteration is made abruptly.
  • Not that accommodating: Although flexible fares provide more freedom than lower fare categories, certain constraints may apply to flexible tickets, such as ban days that prohibit modifications or no modification after a maximum number of hours before departure.
  • Expensive: Flexible flights are usually more costly than basic economy or main cabin fares. Thus, when booking a trip, travelers must balance the advantages of the extra flexibility against the higher price.

There you have it! Those are why you should consider purchasing a flexible ticket and what you should also keep in mind.

Fully Flexible Fares / Main Cabin Fully Flexible Fares

I must admit that I usually prefer fully flexible fares when traveling. Why is this? Because they provide the most freedom for air travelers and are typically the highest rung in American Airlines’ ticket lineup.

These rates provide many benefits and are perfect for people who want complete flexibility with their travel dates. However, there are some important restrictions that you should be aware of. Let me start with the advantages.

Reasons for Choosing Fully Flexible Fares

I prefer Fully flexible American Airlines’ main cabin fares for the following reasons.

American Airlines Flexible vs Fully Flexible. Reasons for Choosing Fully Flexible Fares
  • No extra fees: Making as many changes to your itinerary as you like without paying change fees is one of the main advantages why I prefer this option. A fully Flexible main cabin ticket allows you to change your travel plans without incurring any fees, whether you need to change your travel dates or location or terminate your entire trip.
  • Fully refundable: The refundability feature is another noteworthy benefit. American Airlines’ main cabin fares, unlike non-refundable tickets of lower-tier fare classes, are usually fully refundable. I remember canceling my flight and getting a complete refund using my original payment method. This is a significant advantage for erratic travel schedules.
  • Extra benefits: These airline tickets typically include additional benefits, such as priority screening, additional luggage allowance, and a faster rate of mile accrual for frequent flyer programs. By doing this, you can get more for your money and have a better trip overall.

Now you see why I prefer using fully flexible fares. However, it has a few disadvantages. Come, let us take a look.

Downsides of Fully Flexible Fares

Although these fares offer great flexibility, there are several limitations and guidelines to be aware of. Here are the downsides you are likely to experience.

Downsides of Fully Flexible Fares
  • Payment of fare differences: Even though there are no change fees, you still have to pay the difference in fare if the subsequent trip costs more than the original one. The good news is the difference is typically reimbursed if the other flight is less expensive.
  • Expensive: The price of these fares is higher than that of other fare classes. These fares are the most expensive because of their flexibility and extra benefits. Is the extra cost worth it? If the extra benefits and flexibility are worth paying the additional cost, go ahead and purchase it.
  • Possibility of no-show declaration: It is usually necessary to make modifications or cancellations before the scheduled departure time to utilize the flexibility advantages. If modifications are made after the scheduled departure time, the ticket may be deemed a “no-show,” subject to fines or forfeiture of the purchase price.

Those are the pros and drawbacks of the main cabin flexible and fully refundable tickets. I have mentioned cost, so let me go into deeper details and tell you how the cost differs.

Cost Differences Between Flexible and Full Refund Fares

A cost-benefit analysis is typically required when deciding between American Airlines’ main cabin Flexible and Fully Flexible options. Both fare categories provide more flexibility than regular ticket classes, although their prices differ. In this segment, I will examine these two options regarding price. But before that, check out this summary:


Main Cabin Flexible

Fully Flexible

From California to Chicago:



From Dallas to Los Angeles:



American Airlines Main Cabin Flexible Cost

Prices for main cabin Flexible fares are often lower. Let us consider the example in the table above, where it will cost you $438 if you take the main cabin flexible whereas another person going to the same destination but opting for the fully flexible fares will have to pay $789.

American Airlines Main Cabin Flexible Cost

Nevertheless, these tickets are more expensive in comparison to the most fundamental fare categories, such as:

  • Main Cabin;
  • Basic Economy.

The option to make changes to your travel plans without paying a change fee is effectively at a premium cost, which is why it’s pricey.

Despite not having to pay the change costs, you’ll still have to pay the difference in fare if your alterations cause it. Thus, modifications can still incur additional expenses in the main cabin flexible option, especially if your revised flight fare is more than the first one.

Main Cabin Fully Flexible Ticket Cost

However, the most costly fare class that American Airlines offers is Fully refundable tickets, which have a higher price. Let us take the example in the table above. From California to Chicago, you will pay $729, which is $261 more than what you could have paid in the main cabin flexible.

Main Cabin Fully Flexible Ticket Cost

This substantial price increase above Flexible flights represents the entire range of advantages you receive, such as:

  • Full refund;
  • Unrestricted modifications without penalty;
  • Other bonuses like priority boarding or more baggage allowance.

Do you want to have peace of mind as well as additional flexibility? This main cabin fare option is the best for you. The additional expense can be worthwhile if your plans are subject to change or if you much appreciate the flexibility to adjust your travel schedule according to your preferences.

Best Time to Choose the Two Ticket Options

I have highlighted the benefits and downsides of the two options; thus, it is now very easy to know which option is the best and the most suitable time to choose it. Consider the following table first.


Basic Economy

Fully Flexible

 Charge fee:



Earn miles:



Same Day flight change:



Do not worry if it is still not clear. Let me highlight it for you.

Situations Best for Flexible Fares

When should you opt for this alternative? Here are the circumstances.

Situations Best for Flexible Fares
  • Non-peak seasons: Consider this option if you love traveling during non-peak seasons. This is because the flight costs rarely change. Thus, you won’t be subjected to paying a hefty amount when you change flights.
  • When you do not want to spend too much: This option is much cheaper than the full refund option. You are also guaranteed to get value for your money here.
  • Possibility of plan change: As its name suggests, this option is Flexible. If something comes up when your flight is supposed to take off, you can easily and flexibly change flights.

Situations Best for Fully Refundable Fares

Just as in the case of the main cabin flexible option, there are situations where this ticketing method is the most suitable.

Situations Best for Fully Refundable Fares
  • If you are looking for a higher level of flexibility: this option is known for the many additional advantages thus, you are guaranteed to get value for your money.
  • When your plans change: If your plans are likely to change during your traveling period, you should opt for this option. Do not opt for the non-refundable tickets, as there are refundable tickets, and you will not pay any amount.

How Can I Find Out if My American Airlines Ticket Is Eligible for a Refund or Not?

When I purchased my American Airlines ticket, I used the following three ways to confirm if my American Airlines tickets were refundable or non-refundable airline tickets.

  • Looking at the small print on the initial confirmation email for your booking.
  • Get in touch with American Airlines at 800-433-7300 for reservations.
  • Viewing the specifics of my reservation by signing into my American Airlines account.

Feedback From Travelers Who Have Used American Airlines’ Flexible and Fully Flexible Fare

Below are feedback samples from travelers who have used American Airlines’ main cabin flexible services.

I needed a 100% refundable ticket on AS last month. I clicked the box that said “Refundable.” Lo and behold, when it came time to refund it, I refunded it and received a 100% refund. It was amazing. BlooJoo
At a high level “Flexible” typically means changes or cancellations are allowed (but there may be a fee), while “Fully Flexible” typically means changes or cancellations are allowed with no fee.

But you need to read the detailed fare rules of any fare you’re looking at booking in order to see exactly how flexible any given ticket is and what fees may be involved. Do not rely on the often poorly worded description on JJeffrey

Like most major US carriers, America has jutted its frequent flyer program. You can still get an upgrade and an occasional reward ticket but not anything like in the past. Internationally they are at least on par with other carriers. The Premium Economy is worth a little more per ticket but usually starts out way too expensive. You can keep checking and sometimes you will find a reasonable Premium Economy international fare.


Is American Airlines Business Flexible Refundable?

Yes, American Airlines business flexible is refundable. There is a 0% charge for all international and domestic flights.

What Is the Meaning of Fare Class Flexible?

Fare class flexible means that you can make changes to your flight ticket. After booking your flight, the main cabin flexible ticket can be changed for free.

What Is a Fully Flexible Flight?

A fully flexible flight has flexible tickets. This means that you can make cancellations or changes without incurring additional costs.


That’s all the crucial details about the main cabin flexible tickets. Which one to choose will depend on your personal preference.

For a relatively affordable ticket with flexibility options and more benefits like refundable fare, two checked bags, and Main Cabin Extra/Preferred Seats, then a main cabin flexible is a fantastic option. However, remember that this ticket is more expensive than the regular main cabin ticket and basic economy ticket.

If you want to take flexibility to a higher notch where you will get ticket value and other advantages such as a full refund, unrestricted modifications without penalty, and priority boarding or more baggage allowance, then cabin fully flexible is the best option.

Which option will you opt for when you travel next? Please share this article with family and friends so they can get an insight into the main cabin flexible options.

Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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