American AAdvantage 5-Day Award Holds: An Awesome Policy

American AAdvantage 5-Day Award Holds: An Awesome Policy

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In this post I wanted to write about the most generous award ticket hold policy in the airline industry…

AAdvantage allows award holds for five days

American AAdvantage is one of the few frequent flyer programs that lets you place award tickets on hold prior to ticketing. How long you can hold a ticket depends on how far in advance you’re booking:

  • If you’re holding a ticket 14 or more days before departure, you can hold an award for up to five days
  • If you’re holding a ticket within 14 days of departure, you can hold an award for up to one day

In reality, the hold times aren’t exactly 24 or 120 hours. Instead awards are held through the end of the day in the timezone where the ticket is originating. That means you could potentially have a hold of just under six days.

This is quite literally the most generous policy in the industry. Award holds are possible directly on aa.com. When you get to the booking page for an award, you should see the “AAdvantage Hold” option listed in the section with payment options. This is also available by phone, regardless of whether you’re flying with American or a partner airline.

The American AAdvantage award hold option

Not only does AAdvantage allow award holds, but you can change and cancel awards with AAdvantage at no cost, so there’s a much lower risk to speculatively ticketing awards than in the past.

I really can’t overstate how nice this policy is, as no other major US frequent flyer program lets you place award tickets on hold at all, let alone for five days.

AAdvantage lets you hold awards for up to five days

There’s no change to AAdvantage’s award hold policy

View from the Wing had reported that AAdvantage reduced award holds from five days to three days. However, American has confirmed that this was a glitch, and award holds continue to be possible for five days. That’s a positive development, and it seems that this has already been fixed.

This is an area where American really is generous, and it’s something that makes redeeming miles through AAdvantage more attractive than booking through Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus. Here’s to hoping that this policy sticks around for a long time to come.

I imagine that if American were to ever reduce the length of award holds or eliminate them, it would be because too many people were speculatively holding awards, to the point that it displaced some revenue passengers and caused the airline to lose money.

For example, say that a New York to Athens flight has one seat left for sale in business class, and someone holds it 14 days before departure for a period of five days. That person might not ticket the reservation, and then American might have a harder time maximizing revenue selling that seat.

American’s award hold policy is a real competitive advantage

Bottom line

American AAdvantage allows you to hold award tickets for up to five days, as long as you’re reserving at least 14 days in advance. This is a great policy, and you won’t find another airline that allows holds for so long when booking online.

While there was a scare about this policy changing, it appears that nothing has changed after all, which is great.

Does anyone else love American’s award hold policy as much as I do?

Conversations (15)
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  1. Ana Guest

    Is Aadvantage Hold also available for air partners Flight?

  2. Kyle Guest

    Just a heads up on something I encountered today that the AA phone agent said was a "known issue"

    At least for web specials, if you hold an award and try to pay for it later, the website will show the current price in miles for a new booking on the checkout screen, rather than the price you held it for. This could mean you don't have enough miles to proceed. But if you call they can ticket it no problem for the correct number of miles!

  3. Fiona Baldwin Guest

    I held multiple “evacuation “flights due to an upcoming hurricane and cancelled as the path came clearer with no money down in the end just keeping one!

  4. iamhere Guest

    It's only good if you are the one holding the seat. For everyone else it probably is not good. If you are holding the seat they probably would not show it as an available seat since they only have a certain number of award seats available and as you said about maximizing the seat later if you don't purchase it. I would not be surprised if they change this rule soon.

  5. Points Adventure Guest

    This was great when we didn't have free award cancellation. Now that we do, I find it fairly disposable.

  6. Ann M. Guest

    I am still in shock American Airlines DOES NOT FLY DIRECT FROM CHICAGO TO WARSAW POLAND.. The only choice we have direct flight is Lot Airlines.. ok service.. Chicago is 2nd. Huge Polish population. 1st. Is Poland.. and the only choice we have is LOT airlines.. extreme SHAME.. and American will fly to Asia like all the time!! Japan and etc..

  7. Phillip J Guest

    Not sure how American compares with other carriers but I do agree with the statement "This is an area where American really is generous". I have always appreciated and enjoyed this aspect of the AAdvantage program. My 16-year Exec Plat Status relationship with this company has been heavily influenced by their avoidance of nickel-and-dime type practices (for elites). I avoid certain airlines (e.g. British Airways) because they are so nit-picky.

  8. Optimist Guest

    You can’t “understate” it or you can’t “overstate” it?

  9. Jody Wallace Guest

    With JetBlue, I can book with points and cancel anytime... Not just 5 or 6 days.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jody Wallace -- American allows that as well (and unlike with JetBlue, you're refunded taxes, rather than having them go into your TravelBank). This is about holding an award without actually booking it.

  10. Kurt Guest

    The 5-day award holds and 1-day cash fare holds are among the few wonderful sweet spots left in AAdvantage. Those help keep me flying OW and earning AA miles rather than switching teams to UA. It's kind of a hold-over from another era but it makes a big difference to me. An actual customer-friendly policy!

  11. Jason Guest

    I have seen endless mileage brokers abusing this policy. Would be good for AA to scrap it.
    Also, AA auto-holds unfinished booking but that does not really show up if the passenger is not the member themselves. This may wasted a lot of hooded spaces. Hope AA can take care of that

  12. tom Guest

    Doh!
    Spectacular timing, clearly not reading Gary

    1. tom Guest

      clearly not reading the full post, Doh on me

    2. 305 Guest

      Maybe “The Thot Leader in Travel” should stick to click-bait stories about half naked women and urinating passengers

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

305 Guest

Maybe “The Thot Leader in Travel” should stick to click-bait stories about half naked women and urinating passengers

1
Kurt Guest

The 5-day award holds and 1-day cash fare holds are among the few wonderful sweet spots left in AAdvantage. Those help keep me flying OW and earning AA miles rather than switching teams to UA. It's kind of a hold-over from another era but it makes a big difference to me. An actual customer-friendly policy!

1
tom Guest

clearly not reading the full post, Doh on me

1
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