AAdvantage Award Not Ticketing? It’s Not Just You.

Filed Under: American, Awards

This is more of a PSA than an informational blog post, but we’ve received tons of emails and comments this week asking about American awards that are stuck in the ticketing queue, so I thought it might be helpful to share a bit of info here.

For those of you unfamiliar with booking tickets through American, there are several different “phases” a record can go through:

  • On Hold
  • On Request
  • Pending
  • Purchased
  • Ticketed

American doesn’t have an instant ticketing system, so every ticket, whether paid for with miles or money, goes into a ticketing queue.

On Request

Once you’ve asked American to issue your ticket, the status should change to “On Request,” which basically means American has called dibs on the inventory for you.


When your ticket is “On Request” it hasn’t technically been finalized yet. This can be frustrating, as the operating carrier has confirmed the space is available, and you’ve provided your payment information, so it seems like you should have a ticket.

But until your reservation actually moves to the “Ticketed” phase, you don’t actually have a valid ticket. You can’t fly. You can’t even check-in.

Generally this isn’t a huge issue, although as someone who makes frequent last-minute changes to tickets I’ve had more than one anxious phone call with the Executive Platinum desk.

Me: Hi! I’m here, at the airport, but my ticket hasn’t been issued, and I’d really like to check-in
Agent: I see here it’s in the ticketing queue, so it’s just a matter of time
Me: And I’m generally quite patient, I promise, but the flight is in ninety minutes…
Agent: Oh! Let me see if we can expedite that for you

This seems to literally require calling someone in the ticketing department and asking nicely for the record to be reviewed. I have had agents make multiple calls until they find someone at the ticketing desk who can push the itinerary through (you know you’re playing at advanced levels when you can get the airline agents to HUCA!).

How long does it take AAdvantage awards to ticket normally?

While nothing at American tickets instantly, revenue tickets seem to process within a few hours, at most.

For awards, the vast majority of oneworld partners should move to “Ticketed” within 24 hours, though Iberia and Malaysia can take up to 72 hours. This is also, by the way, why you can’t hold awards on Iberia and Malaysia for the full five days — a five day hold combined with the time spent in the ticketing queue would exceed the ticketing deadlines imposed by both carriers.

Reservations on non-oneworld partners such as Etihad and Air Tahiti can take longer, and it’s not unusual for 48-72 hours to elapse before the record status changes to “Ticketed.”

What’s taking so long currently?

I honestly have no idea, but have been told by several agents that the ticketing department is behind. Many awards are taking three or four times as long as normal.

In particular, awards on JAL seem to be in the queue endlessly.  No joke, we have a set of awards on JAL that has been “On Request” for 13 days now. 

Are too many people trying to procure these coffee cups?

Bottom line

Typically, I would recommend people call American if their award ticket hasn’t issued within 48 hours. At present though, it seems to be slow for everyone, and calling again isn’t expediting the ticketing process significantly.

So it’s definitely not just you, and the best course of action is probably just to sit tight for a couple days. That’s a particularly difficult strategy for me to endorse, but having spent oodles of time on the phone with AA this week I think it’s the best option.

Of course, if your travel is imminent, then you should call (kindly!) until you can get the reservation pushed through. Sitting at the airport waiting for your ticket to catch up with you is miserable.

Does anyone else have tickets stuck in the queue? How long have you been waiting?

  1. I’m flying HKG-LAX-JFK-DFW on CX in October and it took about 2 weeks for my AA award ticket to be issued. This was back at the beginning of May.

  2. This has been happening for the past 2 weeks. Separate award tickets were not issued automatically (with and without changes made). The queue system may have a glitch.

  3. I had an award on JAL (booked with AA miles) that ticketed two days ago after being “on request” for about 8 days. This was after it was on hold for five days. I called on the fifth day to go ahead and ticket it, and didn’t understand why it didn’t actually ticket for another eight days.

  4. even after ticketing it’s good to watch your reservations occasionally, cuz a sched change can F up your ticket big time!!!!

  5. This isn’t exactly the same issue, but I’ve been wondering like crazy about this and thought this would be a good post to put it out to the forum.

    A few weeks ago (around May 20), I put a paid ticket on hold with AA. It’s a trip a friend and I have been wanting to take. Nearing the end of the the hold period, I couldn’t reach my friend to get the green light to buy. I called AA and explained the situation and asked them to extend the hold for 24 more hours as a courtesy. The agent said sure. I looked in my AA account while still on the phone with them, and it says the award is on hold until July 8th! I asked the agent about it (which maybe was dumb), and she said she didn’t see that on her end.

    Has anyone ever heard of this happening? Did the phone rep do me a solid? A glitch in the system? The award has held properly since then, and i can only assume will hold until July 8th.

  6. Even worse is the processing of revenue tickets when you have paper vouchers. It could take a month or more, a real issue when you are choosing a flight based on SWU availability.

  7. Mine took 72+ hours for a change to be made to fly on CX award… I didn’t call or anything… it finally got ticketed on it’s own

  8. Booked an award ticket last night using AA miles for travel on JAL. I received the email confirmation that it has been ticketed within 2 to 3 hours.

    Last month I booked two separate award tickets for travel on Etihad. I received each of the email confirmation almost 24 hours exactly from the time of booking.

  9. I booked a business class award on JAL last week, took about 48 hours to change from “on request” to ticketed. I couldn’t imagine waiting 13 days. That would drive me nuts!

  10. Just finally got a CX & JAL award move to ticketed after 6 days. The flights were not till Feb so I’m guessing it wasn’t a priority for them.

  11. It is also probably good to mention that the ticketing system is not FIFO, it is based on travel date…

  12. Yes, this is happening. Had a JAl award “on request” for 2 weeks. Called a number of times and they said it was because of a schedule change….uhhh yeah right. As noted, call and complain (politely) if departure is imminent.

  13. @Nick – In my case, my travel date is not until March 2016 but was ticketed within 2 to 3 hours. Travel is on JAL.

  14. I just made a routing change to an award that included a JAL segment as well as HA and AS (didn’t change the JAL segment itself), and it took about a week to ticket my wife’s, and mine is still on request 8 days after.
    Messaged AA Twitter and they said it was the JAL ticketing holding it up – not sure if that was a canned response, though.

  15. During major irregular ops situations (generally weather at an AA hub) the ticketing queue backs up because American is prioritizing re-issues.

    The farther out travel is, the longer is can take to issue a ticket as well as it will have lower priority.

    Nonetheless, if an award ticket hasn’t issued within 48-72 hours I will usually give American a call because I want to ensure that everything was set up correctly. While I’ve been called in the past when something was done incorrectly by an AAgent (eg failing to document a voluntary downgrade segment, selling award space on an embargoed flight) I’ve also *not* been called. So it’s worth just checking to make sure everything looks right IMO.

  16. And for what it’s worth, AA tickets much more quickly than Korean awards (and more quickly than British Airways award re-issues). I miss US Airways instant ticketing…

  17. I had an award ticket “on request” for a JAL redemption. It sat in queue for nearly a week and I called several times to find out what was going on – each time saying they were backed up. Finally, I tweeted @AmericanAir and it was ticketed within a few hours.

  18. I ticketed a CX award and a seperate JL award over the past week. The CX ticket was issued in 7 days, while the JL ticket took a couple of hours

  19. I have a paid/revenue ticket I issued April 29 that still hasn’t ticketed!

    I e-mailed the Concierge Key inbox on Sunday about this reservation and here was there response:

    “Thank you for inquiring, I contacted our ticketing desk and they advised something on our side has prevented this from ticketing and it is on a queue for a specialist to review.
    I am sorry about the delay and wanted to offer better news.
    However, our staff is aware of your travel date and will work quickly to resolve.”

    5 days later the reservation is still showing “On Request”.

    Once it gets a week out and its still showing “On Request” that is when I’ll really start to push for ticketing and resolution!

  20. I was told by an AA agent that if an award ticket is still On Request a day before or on the day of your departure, a call won’t help because the ticket is still in the queue and the ticketing department would likely to ask you to patiently wait. However, if the ticket has yet to be ticketed within 6 hours till departure, the ticketing department would only then be able to manually complete the ticketing process.

    Another thing that the agent has mentioned is that their ticketing department is closed on weekends and holidays, and they don’t work all day (hours of operation are from early morning till 10PM CST). If you happen to fly on the weekend/holiday and your award ticket is yet being ticketed within 6 hours of departure, the customer representative won’t be able to ask a ticketing agent to do the ticketing. Yet, I was told that the customer rep’s supervisor has the ability to complete ticketing, so should ask for the supervisor directly.

  21. Could you please start putting at least one line calling out the fact that a post is not authored by Ben? I know it’s stated in the author line, and I don’t need the paragraph introduction that was there before, but a single line would be really helpful. It’s getting annoying reading halfway into a post and being surprised at Ben’s tone, only to realize it was Tiffany or Travis or who knows. I don’t have an issue with multiple authors, just a little more obvious call out would be appreciated.

  22. CX award on request from last Friday until yesterday. Almost 6 days, but finally ticketed last night.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the horrible weather over the last two weeks in the US (Texas and east coast) has pushed the priority of this issue way down the list.

  23. Why in the world does AA not ticket instantly what’s the whole purpose of this crazy ticketing queue

    United is about the same when it’s comes to issue a brand new ticket it’s will go in to a queue status but for reissues it’s always instant, but not by AA where brand new and reissued ticket’s are always queued this might be part of the problem that creates does long queues

  24. @Tocqueville – maybe I am missing something…but you do see that says April 29, 2016 (not 2015), right? Is that normal? From the way you wrote it, I would have expected it to say 2015.

  25. @baqa – good point I didn’t see that. Maybe that is what is holding up although I figured Concierge Key would have been able to overcome that when researching it.

  26. @Alex K: You want a line stating that this isn’t authored by Ben? Here you go.

    “JUNE 4, 2015 BY TIFFANY”

    I don’t understand what the complaint is when the exact thing you’re asking for is already there.

  27. This happended to me and it was good I found it early. Just call in and ask to ticket again and the rep confirmed the card will be billed the next day.

  28. I booked two award tickets on CX back in January. They were finally “Ticketed” at the beginning of April after nearly 3 months and several phone calls.

    Agents kept saying it was due to the merger, and that since my travel is occurring later in the year I was a low priority for the ticketing desk.

  29. @SG – As noted in my comment – “I know it’s stated in the author line”

    It’s simply a preference and that byline is easily missed, especially in my RSS reader. I’m happy that’s sufficient for you, I’d just prefer something more obvious.

  30. No instant ticketing. Paper vouchers.

    Tell me again why the merged company is adopting the AA systems?

  31. Another highly informative article, wasn’t surprised to see if was from Tiffany (once I got to the end and clocked her bio block), who seems to have a knack communicating about stuff like this.

  32. I thought AA airport check-in counters could process ticketing. I once arrived at OGG 1.5 hours before my flight with unticketed reservation, and it was ticketed right at the check-in counter. Also, with paper vouchers, I put a ticket on hold online and went to YVR check-in counter and they ticketed it for me instantly right there.

  33. @Alex K

    Not only is the author line obvious but it’s clearly the function of the byline.

  34. @Beachan Yup, I do understand the point of the byline. And again, just like SG, happy that it’s good enough for you. Just a request and preference, that’s all.

    After reading the blog for the past 7 years I don’t pay much attention to the byline since it’s been almost 100% Ben posting. Ben and the team are more than welcome to ignore the request, I’ll happily keep reading and learn to pay attention to the byline eventually.

  35. Made a change last night to an American award ticket on Etihad and British Airways. After making the change, the reservation went from “ticketed” to “on request”, but went back to “ticketed” about 18 hours later.

  36. I’m relieved to hear it’s not just me. Put a combo JAL/AA award on hold on May 17 (when I saw Lucky’s post about JAL availability) for April 2016. Had to wait for five full days for the return date to become available (was booking THAT far out, lol) so on May 22 added a return segment on JAL/AA again.

    The award wasn’t ticketed until June 2, so it was 12 full days!

    In the meantime, I did call AA twice (once to change the return routing to a more convenient one) and second time to check on the status (was told it wasn’t high on the priority list due to being so far out). Don’t know if it was just a coincidence, but it got ticketed the day after I called the last time.

    P.S. Can we also talk about atrocious wait times with AA lately? I don’t have status I have had to spend anywhere between an hour to 2.5 hours on hold. Sure, they have a callback system but I don’t trust it as last time it connected me to a wrong department after which I had to spend another hour on hold waiting for the internal transfer. Absolutely ridiculous!

  37. @ Noah S — Probably as a way to catch any mistakes. It reduces the chances of mistake fares, illegal routings, etc., when itineraries get a second set of eyes/there is a system in place (of course as we’ve seen, that doesn’t always stop mistakes from happening). 😉

  38. I think my award booking was the one referenced in this article. I’m glad to say that it just posted as “ticketed” so we’re good to go. While my flight is several months out and it doesn’t really pose an issue, I’d hate to be one of the people on a last minute award flight and have things in limbo. AA should really look into ways to expedite things. 72 hours is understandable but they are going well over that in some cases.

  39. @ Gary Leff — Agreed, of course. Hopefully as the weather improves in Dallas the queue will clear out as well!

  40. @ WChow — Absolutely, occasionally something is wrong with the ticket as Gary notes above, and a call can fix that, but the majority of the time it’s just a matter of waiting. I generally have to call a few times before I’ll find someone who will escalate it, even on the day of departure.

  41. @ echino — They can but if travel is on a partner that’s not a good strategy. I had a ticket from Cambodia that wasn’t issued in time, for example, and so of course the contract workers at the airport couldn’t modify the American ticket, they had to wait for me to push things through with AAdvantage.

  42. @ Ivan Y — The hold times are outrageous. I assume it’s at least partly due to all the weather in Texas, but agree that it’s super irritating.

  43. @ Marc — Yay!!! Sorry it’s taken so long, and hopefully it helps a little to know it wasn’t your ticket exclusively.

  44. Booked an award ticket on Etihad for 2016 and it took 7 days to ticket. I called daily starting at 48 hrs and each time they looked at it and said everything was OK with the reservation and it was in the queue. Also booked an award ticket all on AA metal which ticketed within a few hours.

  45. Just a data point — I’ve redeemed miles on Etihad several times in the past few months, and the ticket has gone from request status to ticketed within the day, typically less than eight hours.

    I guess I’ve just been getting lucky?

  46. @Alex K: Given you seem to miss the author line, is this something you want?


    JUNE 4, 2015 BY TIFFANY

    This article is by Tiffany if you missed any of the other clues. If you love Tiffany then continue reading, if you don’t then still continue reading as it’s probably a very informative article.

  47. Also, am I the only one experiencing longer wait times to reach the call center? I used to reach a human near instantly in the morning, now it’s 20 minutes minimum.

  48. @ italdesign — I’d be happy with a 20-minute wait time. Had been on hold for hours on multiple occasions (see my comment above).

  49. @ SG — Hah, thank you! I may or may not be sending that to my Dad 😉

    @ Alex K — In all seriousness, if you have suggestions as to what might make that better in practice I’d be all for it. The three of us combined only generate about 10% of what Ben does, so it makes sense that it could be jarring. The paragraphs were just getting sorta lame…

  50. @SG – Yes – that’s it! Well, almost perfect – maybe just add some exclamation marks and circles and arrows and then I’ll figure it out! Oh wait, wrong blog… I now realize I’ve become “that guy” 🙂

    @Tiffany – Thanks very much for the offer, but I’m clearly in the minority on this topic, so no need to add a line that will annoy others every post. I agree the full paragraphs were getting old, so I just need to learn to pay attention to the byline, that’s all.

    And by the way – I really do like your posts a ton and I’m all for the increased contributions. You just learn someone’s tone, phrasing, etc after awhile and it’s strange to read one of your posts thinking it was Ben initially. Thanks again.

  51. Booked award ticket but did not go through. Since I did not know that AA are so dumb, I just went ahead and booked on United instead. It was the next day 18 hours later that I finally got ticketed. I tried arguing it on the phone with them, (now I know to take screen shots) and they denied the fact that in their website it said that there were not enough miles for the ticket, I was put through to a very impolite supervisor that blaimed me for not waiting (Flight was next day). Terrible system.

  52. Gary Leff, I also had an itinerary that had an issue and nobody contacted me so it was “on request” for several days. It took nearly an hour for the second agent to fix the mistake, very frustrating, but after the fix my itinerary was ticketed within just a few hours.

  53. I’ve had a Cathay Biz/First ticket “On Request” for 6 days now. I’ve spoke with a few agents who have said that it’s still on the ticketing queue. Granted, this flight is not till January 2016, but this is quite frustrating. Glad to know it’s not just me…

  54. Is this still going on? I’m planning to change routing on my ticketed PHL to HKG flights (for 3 people) utilizing 3 first class tickets available on BOS-HKG route two days from now. Is it too risky? Could it be ticketed in time?

    Thanks! Need advice ASAP!

  55. @ Bill — You’ll be fine, they prioritize the ticketing queue based on departure date 🙂

  56. My AA award ticket on EY & CX first showed status as “ticketed” then it changed to “on request”. It’s been over 2 weeks and its still “on request” My departure is not until Jan. 12. I hope I don’t lose my seats.

  57. I have a F class SYD-LHR Etihad award travel On Request for the last 72 hours, and it has not been ticketed though it is for travel in April 2016. I called AA to reconfirm everything was fine, which it was. Like everyone is saying, just have to wait it out if your travel is not soon.

  58. Booked flights for my family of 6 to Hong Kong on CX next June, returning Beijing-hong kong-Chicago-Orlando. Booked on first available day for each. Outbound ticketed after 8 days, still waiting for inbound after 17 days of on request.

  59. Well I just booked a ticket for Cathay SFO-HKG-CAN and SIN-HKG-SFO today for June/July next year. It’s “on request” and reading from here it doesn’t sound very good. I have to book HKG-SIN oneway, and also SIN-CAN for my brother. Should I go ahead and book those one-way tickets, or should I wait until my Cathay ticket shows “ticketed”?? Is there any risk that the ticketing won’t go through? Thanks!

  60. So can someone answer this question. When will I show the miles pulled from my account or the taxes charged to my credit card? Should these occur as soon as a call AA to ticket an award on hold or some later time?

  61. I waited about 10 days for my Cathay reservation to be ticketed. During those 10 days I did called once and tweeted AA twice, they told me everything was fine. After the ticket was issued, I changed the reservation twice (upgrade to first class on the return, changing the departure date on the outbound) both times the ticket was reissued within 2 hrs or 1 day, relatively fast.

  62. I’m here to attest to the fact that Awards tickets on HOLD at American Airlines, when you go in to actually pay the tax and fees associated with them, if you happen to click through while signed in on another account (such as your spouse’s), then American will CHANGE WHOSE POINTS the ticket is associated with at the time of the payment, not according to how it was held. And in so doing, it can really screw up a split ticket reservation, where multiple points holders are trying to fly together. And here is the lovely part — when your booking turns out not to have enough points for the final leg (because the system switched account deductions without warning), you simply won’t receive an e-mail confirmation, and you’ll have no other way of knowing that American f*cked up your reservation. And — BONUS! — when you call the customer service rep, the cranky lady from Texas will not help you until she makes it damn clear that your not noticing the change in the HOLD specifications is *your* fault, not American’s fault; and that your not receiving any notification that there is a problem with your reservation is *your* responsibility, not American’s responsibility. And then when you send an online complaint about this whole situation, “Cassandra Small” will take less than 2 minutes to process your complaint, then auto-dismiss it because “We can understand your desire to have this matter taken care of. While Customer Relations is equipped to handle and work to resolve a variety of past travel issues, we are not equipped with the systems required to handle or resolve future reservations issues.”

  63. I have a ticket booked for Etihad from AUH to JFK and it is “On-Request” for 48 hours now. Getting a bit concerned as I am flying in a week. Has calling back multiple times to expedite this helped anyone ? Is there a chance that this ticket may never be confirmed or is it just a matter of waiting it out until the date of travel ?

  64. Called AA US call center to book JFK-DOH-AMM on QR, returning EY AMM-AUH-JFK. Agent booked the QR flights, and they ticketed within a couple of hours.

    Couldn’t see any availability in J or F on EY (offered QR on the return as well, but I want to try different products, A350 on the way out and A380 coming back), so I called the Australia call center and the agent had no trouble seeing availability in J.

    It’s been over 24 hours, and the EY flights are still showing as “On Request”, and miles haven’t been taken from my account. I actually found this post as I was looking on line whether it was a common issue, as I was getting concerned 🙂 Good to see it’s fairly normal (especially assuming things are very backed up with Christmas travel). Travel is not until April, but I will probably DM AA on Twitter if this is not resolved within a couple of days.

  65. I have an etihad F award ticket that says on request for 3 weeks. miles not deducted yet.
    When I go to etihad it shows status as confirmed and I even got seats assigned by calling etihad.
    Does it mean the ticket confirmed?
    This is for my kids.
    There was a separate reservation for my wife on same flights but business and it shows ticketed.
    Do I need to call or did I get free ticket 🙂

  66. @ Sam — You might want to call. You definitely didn’t get a free ticket, but it’s not unusual for it to take a long time to ticket.

  67. I booked a reward trip in January for this coming October (I like to plan ahead and wanted to book before AA devalued). It ticketed pretty quickly, and I have a ticket number via email.

    Last week, I received an email from Award Wallet that one of my flights had changed (moved 2 hours, no problem). However, I didn’t get any info from AA about the change. When I go on AA.com and try to look at it, and change seats because of course the change messed with our seat choices, the status has gone back from Ticketed to On Request. It’s been like this for at least three days now.

    Since it’s in October, and we’re only in June now, do I bother calling now? It seems very odd.

  68. I called AA last Friday to book flights (2 two-leg flights, out and return) in business class on Cathay Pacific, and the flights have been On Request for almost a week. Should I be concerned?

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