How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket on Hold?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Gary commented:

How many times can you put a 5 day hold on an award ticket with American Airlines? When the hold expires do the seats become immediately available? Could I just rebook and get another 5 day hold?

How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket On Hold

Gary Can Put a 5 Day Hold on an American Airlines Award Ticket to Rome If Award Seats Are Available

Gary wants to know how many times he can put an American Airlines award ticket on a 5 day hold.  He also wants to know how quickly the award seats become available after a hold expires, and if he can get another 5 day hold extension on an award ticket.

Gary can put a 5 day hold on an American Airlines award ticket indefinitely as long as award seats are available AND he’s booking travel more than 2 weeks in advance.

However, there’s always the possibility that the award seats do NOT become available for rebooking.  This could happen if they have a good chance of being able to sell the seats for cash!

American Airlines Award Ticket Hold Policy

In general, Gary can hold an American Airlines award ticket for 5 days IF:

  • His travel dates are 330 and 15 days prior to departure
  • Award seats are available

So Gary can put a 5 day hold on his New York to Rome flight on November 21, 2014, because it’s at least 15 days away.

How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket On Hold

Gary Can Hold an American Airlines Award Ticket for 5 Days

When Doesn’t the 5 Day Hold Apply?

Usually Gary can hold an award ticket for 5 days, but he can NOT hold an American Airlines award ticket for 5 days when:

  • He books 14 days or less prior to departure
  • He books a special award ticket

He can hold an award ticket for 1 day when his travel plans are within 14 days.  And if Gary is traveling within 24 hours, he can hold an award ticket for 2 hours prior to departure.

How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket On Hold

If Gary Wants to Fly to Miami in 2 Days, He Can Only Hold the Award Ticket for 1 Day

Special award tickets (such as award seats on other airlines) may have different ticketing dates and require ticketing in 1 day.  So Gary might not get a 5 day hold in those cases.

How to Put an American Airlines Award Ticket on Hold

Gary can hold an American Airlines award ticket on the American Airlines website or by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

Using the American Airlines website, he can hold award tickets on:

Gary has to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880 to hold award tickets on other oneworld partner airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Etihad.

How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket On Hold

Gary Can Call American Airlines to Hold an Award Ticket to the Maldives on Etihad

American Airlines Award Ticket Fees

Gary can call American Airlines to hold an award ticket.  But he will pay a fee if he does NOT have American Airlines elite status.

Gary will pay the following fees to book an American Airlines award ticket:

  • $25 for domestic award tickets (waived for American Airlines Executive Platinum elite members)
  • $35 for international award tickets (waived for American Airlines Executive Platinum elite members)
  • $75 for ticketing less than 21 days prior to departure (waived for American Airlines elite members)

When he calls to place an award ticket on hold, the fee will be added to his reservation.  When Gary books the ticket, he will be charged the fee.

Note:  If Gary lets his hold expire and doesn’t book the award ticket, he will NOT be charged the fee, even if he doesn’t have American Airlines elite status.

Why Gary Should Book His Award Ticket Now

Although Gary can hold an award ticket for 5 days if he’s booking travel 15 days or more in advance, he should book his ticket now instead of waiting because:

  • Award seats are limited
  • Award pricing could go up

Gary should book as soon as he confirms his travel dates.  Otherwise, Gary takes the chance that his 5 day hold could expire and he could lose the award seats.  And if Gary is traveling during the holidays or the high season or needs multiple award tickets, there’s a higher chance the award seats won’t be available later.

But if he does let his 5 day hold expire, Gary can rebook on the American Airlines website IF award seats are still available.  However, there’s no guarantee that award seats will be available for the same dates and at the same award level.

How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket On Hold

There Might Not Be Award Seats Available If Gary Waits

Bottom Line

Gary can extend the 5 day hold on an American Airlines award ticket for travel between 330 and 15 days in advance IF award seats are available.

If he lets his 5 day hold expire, he can re-hold them for another 5 days IF: the award seats are available, he’s traveling more than 2 weeks in advance, and it’s not a special award.

Special award tickets may require that Gary book sooner than 5 days in advance.

Gary can hold American Airlines award tickets on the American Airlines website or by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

If he doesn’t have American Airlines elite status, Gary will pay a fee to book his award ticket.  He’ll be charged the fee when he books his ticket.  But he won’t pay a fee if he doesn’t book the ticket.

Gary should book his award tickets immediately because award seats are limited and he might have to pay a higher award redemption if his hold expires.

How many times have you extended a hold on American Airlines award tickets?

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16 responses to “How Many Times Can You Put An American Airlines Award Ticket on Hold?

  1. Do you need to have enough miles in the account for the ticket to be able to hold? I’m trying to find tickets then move the miles over from Chase or American Express which takes a day or two.

  2. AA’s hold option is outstanding for those times when you see a seat and want to make sure it can be yours before you have a chance to make other arrangements that impact whether you can make the trip or not – for example, vacation time, other people’s schedules, availability of suitable lodging, etc. It isn’t for trying to hold a seat long term. As noted, that seat may not go back into the award inventory. Of course, before the hold time is up, you can check to see whether another seat for the same or acceptably similar itinerary is available, in which case you can cancel your held seat, and make a new reservation. This works well for seats available online. For those you need to call for, I don’t know.

    You probably wouldn’t want indefinite holds to be possible. Too many people would just hold seats speculatively all the time, drying up the availability for everyone else.

    I tried not long ago to hold two separate itineraries I was considering over the same dates while checking other arrangements. AA wouldn’t let me do that. I had to decide to cancel one hold first before I could establish the other.

  3. Um, there is no fee for award tickets booked via the website, 21+ days out. The $25 fee applies only to tickets booked on the phone or at the airport.

    (US Airways charges this fee, so it may be coming once the programs merge, but not yet).

  4. Dave S, I was asking if you need the mileage in your account before you can hold for 5 days. I have a AAdvantage number but do not have any miles in the account. I don’t want to move any rewards points over until I know there is a flight that fits my needs.

  5. Avoid flying through London to save over $300 in taxes and fees with this routing. The best way to select non-London flights is to uncheck British Airways as a potential carriers on the screen where flights are selected. Sometimes you have to then go back a day and return to the desired day to get non-BA flights to appear. Air Berlin through Dusseldorf reduces the taxes and fees from $345 to $19!

  6. @Bjf – you can put a hold without the miles. I have done it many times and waited for the miles to be in my account to book. Also, you can put a hold on the tickets via the website and incur no fees to do so.

  7. @Steve, you mentioned flying “through” London, my impression is that flying IN does not incur big taxes and fees, but flying OUT does. Correct?

  8. How do you put the award on hold via the website? Thanks

  9. Through vs. into London is a good question. I believe you’re right as I frequently hear about departure taxes, but don’t know for certain. When you click the Purchase button on aa.com, you’ll see a breakdown of taxes and fees before you actually buy the ticket.

  10. You don’t need all the points to put tickets on hold and you do it by searching initially by award seats, enter in passenger info just like you are ready to confirm and there will be a step where it will ask if you want to hold, to buy more points. I had almost enough so don’t know if you can with no or little points in your account. What I really needed to know was how many seats were available. I found the same flights show up on BA with a reward search and BA will tell how many seats are available at each award level, you do have to sign up for an account first.
    I did 2 holds on AA for different dates and let one go. The seats did not come back in inventory for about 2 weeks. I did book the other hold right at the last minute. I had to be careful of time zones.
    Also the 5 days are more like 7 if it includes the weekend I seem to remember.. AA will tell you exactly when if you look.

  11. By the way I did not book on BA metal……the fees!!!!! I found that USair goes to London quite abit out of CLT and for less than $10. Book through AA.

  12. Wondering-I will be booking when the schedule comes available on Delta for Oct 2015. I have looked at earlier date say 300 days out and can not fine and lower milerage tickes from USA to Europe. I wonder if they even offer one ticket at reduced milerage?

    • @best_daddy – There are higher taxes for flying out of London (as opposed to flying into London).

      @sharona – They give you an option to do that online.

      @Gary – ExpertFlyer will tell you how many AA award seats are available.

  13. i just read on AA’s website that they don’t charge the fee if you cancel the hold within 24 hours. You will get charged the fee if held longer.

  14. Sorry. I meant to say you won’t pay the fee if you hold the reservation and then book the award in less than 24 hours after the hold was placed.
    http://www.aa.com/i18n/utility/hold_mktpg.jsp?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=hold