American Airlines Files for Bankruptcy: What it Means for You

by  Elissa Garay | Nov 29, 2011
American Airlines plane
American Airlines plane / Santiago Rodriguez Fonto/iStock

Swirling rumors of American Airlines pending bankruptcy proved true this morning, when the parent of the carrier, the AMR Corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection. The airline – the last major legacy airline in the country to file for Chapter 11 – has pledged that the filing will allow it to emerge as a stronger company, by affording it the opportunity to reduce labor costs and emerge from debt. Speculations are being made that this latest bankruptcy filing might give birth to another round of airline consolidation, considering that the bankruptcy declarations by Delta led to their teaming up with Northwest, while United's led to a merger with Continental. So what does this all mean for you, the traveler? Well, by all accounts, not too much – it’s really the airline’s employees and stockholders that will bear the brunt of the envisioned restructuring. Read on for some Q & A on what to expect if you already have tickets or are still interested in booking a flight with AA:

Is the airline still operating normally through the bankruptcy process?
Yes, the company has stated it will maintain normal operations throughout its bankruptcy filing (which previous airlines have proved possible). All tickets and reservations will be honored, and the normal refund and exchange process will be in place.

Will there be changes to American’s flight schedule?
No, American does not have plans to restructure the flight schedule at this time, though most experts agree that flight operations will be cut back in the near future to less lucrative destinations.

Will there be changes to the frequent flyer program?
No, American says its frequent flyer program, AAdvantage, will not be affected.

Will there be a change in ticket prices?

American has no plans to change its rates at this time and has vowed to continue to offer competitive pricing.

Will American still remain part of the oneworld alliance, and continue on with its codeshare partnerships?
Yes, on both fronts. American Airlines is a founding member of the oneworld alliance, which includes partner airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, and Iberia.

What if the airline ceases operations?
On the rare and unlikely occurrence that the airline folds completely, most travelers will have refund protection if their tickets were purchased with a credit card.

Find out more about American Airlines' Chapter 11 reorganization at

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