American Airlines offers a generous 5 day ‘hold’ for award itineraries. You don’t have to put down a credit card or spend your miles to lock in an award option.
However back in April I identified that awards for travel on Cathay Pacific placed on hold were being cancelled out. So American started only allowing 24 hour holds on Cathay Pacific awards, to avoid itineraries being cancelled prior to ticketing, since American wasn’t able to restore cancelled itineraries where award space was no longer available.
Fortunately American has fixed the issue with Cathay Pacific where Cathay was cancelling out held itineraries. Cathay Pacific awards can again be put on hold for 15 days prior to ticketing.
Incidentally, the technology has been worked out to properly handle 5 day award holds on Brazilian partner Gol as well.
When American eliminated award redeposit fees last fall I worried that this would mean the end of putting awards on hold, something U.S. competitors no longer offer. Gone are the days when 30, then 14, then 3 day award holds were common. Hopefully American keeps its hold policy, which makes AAdvantage easier to use than competitor programs, and it’s great they’ve resolved the glitch of Cathay Pacific cancelling held itineraries.