Which Airlines Allow Award Ticket Holds?

Which Airlines Allow Award Ticket Holds?

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Planning travel can be complicated, especially if you’re trying to redeem miles & points. Award availability is often limited, and there are lots of moving parts. In that sense, being able to hold an award reservation for free before ticketing can be extremely valuable. In this post I wanted to recap the frequent flyer programs that still let you hold award tickets, as it’s an opportunity that has become increasingly rare.

What is an airline award ticket hold, and why does it matter?

Airline award space can disappear quickly, especially first & business class award seats over peak periods. There’s huge value sometimes in just being able to place an award ticket on hold for some amount of time prior to ticketing.

There are several reasons this could come in handy:

  • It could be that you want to make sure you can lock in award space or get time off work before ticketing an airline award reservation
  • It could be that you have transferable points (like points with Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, etc.), and getting them into an airline frequent flyer program isn’t an instant process (though many points convert instantly nowadays)
  • It could be that you’re trying to piece together a larger award itinerary, but need some time to work on that, but don’t want the most important flight to be snatched up by someone else in the meantime

Back in the day a vast majority of frequent flyer programs allowed award tickets to be placed on hold for some amount of time before ticketing. Unfortunately nowadays it’s rather rare.

Not many airlines allow award ticket holds anymore

Which frequent flyer programs allow award ticket holds?

Which airline frequent flyer programs allow award ticket holds nowadays? Below I’ll recap the programs that allow holds, for how long award seats can be placed on hold, and how you can request a hold.

Let me note that the policy is generally based on the program you’re ticketing through, rather than the airline you’re actually traveling with, in situations where you’re booking partner award travel.

With that in mind, the following airline frequent flyer programs allow award ticket holds:

  • Air France-KLM Flying Club — hold award tickets for up to three days, but only by phone
  • American AAdvantage — hold award tickets for up to five days, directly on aa.com
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles — hold awards for up to three days, but only by phone
  • Emirates Skywards — hold award tickets for up to one day, but only by phone
  • Lufthansa Miles & More — hold award tickets for up to five days, but only by phone
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer — awards can potentially be held, but only by phone
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles — hold award tickets for up to two days, but only by phone
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club — hold awards for up to one day, but only by phone

As you can see, American AAdvantage wins by a long shot here, for allowing award holds of up to five days directly online. All other major airline programs only allow award holds by phone, so this is a significant advantage, in my opinion.

Let me also note that for the airlines that only allow award ticket holds by phone, it’s very much a case of “your mileage may vary.” That’s to say that some phone agents will allow holds without issue, while others say it’s not possible. Even when they do allow them, it still seems to come down to the agent as to how long holds are allowed. So never count on those holds being possible 100% of the time.

If I missed any airline frequent flyer programs that allow award holds, please let me know in the comments section.

American AAdvantage is the best when it comes to award holds

Are award ticket holds as important as in the past?

Back in the day I valued programs that allowed award ticket holds immensely. While I still think it’s valuable, a couple of things have changed that make this a bit less important than in the past, in my opinion:

  • Airlines generally have policies allowing you to refund your ticket within 24 hours of booking, with certain exclusions; while this technically only applies to travel to & from the United States, many major frequent flyer programs have adopted this rule across the board (make sure you always double check the rules before relying on this, though)
  • Following the pandemic, we’ve seen some frequent flyer programs eliminate change & redeposit fees on awards, which is a game changer for locking in award travel; for example, Alaska Mileage Plan and American AAdvantage no longer have award ticket change or redeposit fees

This certainly doesn’t cover all situations, but for many of the best programs, locking in important award segments is less costly than it was in the past.

Alaska Mileage Plan no longer has award redeposit fees

Bottom line

Understanding airline hold policies can be incredibly valuable, given how fluid award space is. Unfortunately so few programs allow this nowadays, and American AAdvantage is really the star, as the program allows five day holds directly online.

With some airlines having eliminated change and award redeposit fees, combined with a 24 hour refund policy, this isn’t quite as important as in the past. But still, there sure is value in this, especially if you’re transferring points from a partner.

What has your experience been with airline award ticket holds? Any programs I missed?

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  1. Art_Czar Member

    I've had phone agents hold award reservations on Korean, while awaiting Chase transfers (back in the day).

  2. AA70 Gold

    Singapore has held an award when I needed to transfer points before. I asked for 24 hours on the phone not wanting to push them, and the agent offered me 72 which was generous. YMMV

  3. justlanded Guest

    Recently used 5 day holds on AA.com for a 2023 trip to Europe that had lots of moving parts, dates, cities. The website hold feature was invaluable as I made several tweaks along the way before finally getting the best combination of dates/flights. Would have been exhausting doing it all by phone.

    AA gets picked on often, but the on-line hold functionality makes their program more valuable (at least to me.)

  4. Views From Guest

    I’ve called in and asked KLM to hold inventory in the past and the answer was they need to be in account prior to booking

  5. Palty Guest

    Couple of months ago emirates held 2 award tickets for me and my partner

    1. Skdxb Member

      I have never had this good luck with EK

  6. Lieflat19 Member

    Is there a way to be notified of replies or comments to a specific post? i dont see this feature anymore. please help

  7. Willmo99 Guest

    Finnair allows Platinum members to hold awards for up to 24 hours

  8. Kent Guest

    In other news, Akash (Akasa) Airlines joins the growing list of domestic Indian carriers.

  9. Tim Guest

    Last month Qantas Premium VIP team flying domestically held my award flights for 5 pax for 3 weeks awaiting for my Qantas Amex points to roll into my account . I wasn’t aware they or I could do that

  10. WILLIAM Guest

    Award reservations by EVA Air's Infinity MileageLands allow holds as well, whether directly booked via their website or by phone. The ticketing period is set by the operating airline of the itinerary.

  11. D3kingg Guest

    I like the new video ads on the website. Very cool.

  12. NM Guest

    I've heard that ANA may also hold award bookings for a few days.

  13. TranceXplant Member

    As stated in the article, this is one area where AA is actually quite good. I don't need to place an award on hold, because I can cancel bookings online for free.

    1. glenn t Diamond

      The benefit of having a ticket on hold (AA at least) is that you do not pay fees 'n taxes until you decide to go ahead.
      Getting those refunded for a cancelled ticket can be difficult and time-consuming (Alaska MP being a notable exception.)

  14. DLPTATL Guest

    Tangentially related is Delta's deal with AmEx where you can "borrow" miles for an award redemption and then "earn" them by spending later in the year. To the extend that you haven't "earned" them back after the six-month period, then you will be charged 2.5 cents per remaining mile. I've never tried this, so I'm not sure how easy or useful it is in practice.

  15. Gil Guest

    Aeromexico Clubpremier does not technically allow holds, but if there is standard award availability, their travel shops in Mexico can create a reservation and ticket it within 15 days. Although most transfers from partners are instant, there are certain times it becomes useful.

  16. abert Guest

    Emirates typically gives you 72 hours

    1. Edgar Guest

      You must be very lucky. They never hold it even for an hour

  17. Henrique Guest

    AA is very generous in this aspect and I've never noticed they were alone in this customer friendly policy. Let's hope it stays that way.

    Here in Brazil we have an interesting scheme with both Azul and GOL airlines. With slight differences, both allow you to reserve an award flight with a small fee (~25 USD per reservation irrespective of passenger count) and pay for it 60 days before departure. If you don't pay it,...

    AA is very generous in this aspect and I've never noticed they were alone in this customer friendly policy. Let's hope it stays that way.

    Here in Brazil we have an interesting scheme with both Azul and GOL airlines. With slight differences, both allow you to reserve an award flight with a small fee (~25 USD per reservation irrespective of passenger count) and pay for it 60 days before departure. If you don't pay it, reservation is cancelled without penalties.

    Nice to secure a seat in high demand routes and rack up miles throughout the year.

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glenn t Diamond

The benefit of having a ticket on hold (AA at least) is that you do not pay fees 'n taxes until you decide to go ahead. Getting those refunded for a cancelled ticket can be difficult and time-consuming (Alaska MP being a notable exception.)

2
Lieflat19 Member

Is there a way to be notified of replies or comments to a specific post? i dont see this feature anymore. please help

1
WILLIAM Guest

Award reservations by EVA Air's Infinity MileageLands allow holds as well, whether directly booked via their website or by phone. The ticketing period is set by the operating airline of the itinerary.

1
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