American Starting to Limit 24 Hour Holds When Purchasing Tickets Online

As an official policy, American switched to offer 24 hour refunds when purchasing travel a week or more in advance and eliminated 24 hour holds — but continued offering holds as an option on the website, indicating this would go away at some point but didn’t specify when.

American is less generous than Delta or United who allow 24 hour refunds even for purchases made within a week in travel, however this is not required by the Department of Transportation.

American has started to remove the 24 hour hold option from its website and will no longer show it to all customers on all itineraries. Presumably they’re split-testing to understand the role that holds have on purchase decisions.

ThreeJulietTango shared,

Effective November 3, free holds on will only be offered randomly for reservations which are made at least 7 days before departure and do not contain other airline space.

Availability of the free hold will be independent of elite status or fare inventory, and if a free hold is not offered, starting over and over again will not cause one to eventually be offered.

This change does not affect the availability of the Extended Hold product, and all tickets purchased at least 7 days before departure may be refunded if cancelled within 24 hours of purchase.

I asked American about this and they confirmed that “some customers will still see the hold option, and some may not.. Final decisions have not been made on when it will be fully transitioned out.”

In other words “as of today, fewer customers may see the hold vs the number who would have seen it previously.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Dear American Airlines, I LOVE the AA 24 HOLD feature. It makes all the difference. Please don’t take it away!! 🙂

  2. @alisonb – We here at AA aim high in our efforts to disappoint and discourage. We’re working hard to eliminate any perks that might provide you, our valued customer, any benefit. In our recent past we’ve coupled our traditionally outdated and worn airplanes with disgruntled employees. We continue to strive to devalue our ground-breaking AAdvantage frequent flyer program so that when you’re actually able to book an award trip it’ll really mean something to you. We look forward to seeing you again soon!

  3. @ Gary — Very timely post. I put two tickets on hold about an hour ago, and each time I got an error (crash) message on the last step. However, the reservations still went on hold, so AA must still have some IT bugs to work out!

  4. Goes well with AAdvantage Fraud. “Oh – you want to USE your miles? Only if you want to fly on Christmas day at dinner time – and in the cargo hold.”

  5. I used it several times just this past week to hold Thanksgiving tickets – and did finally purchase (AA) after comparing schedules, seating, and fares repeatedly with Delta. And I would absolutely have taken the Delta at one point if both (neither) had had the “hold” capacity.

    Really shooting themselves in the foot on this. What else is new?

  6. Well, I know people love to hate AA but they treat me good as a 100,000+ mile/year flyer. Many times my 24 hour holds last for longer than 48 hours when I wasn’t quite sure if I was ready to purchase. They have been more than generous to me over the years as US Airways. I really can’t remember the last time they let me fly domestically in coach even though all I ever pay for is coach class tickets. I have no reason to jump ship. I could care less about the revenue based miles. First class upgrades and free drinks and free food are worth it to me. I rarely use miles to fly anyways. I just use my miles bank to give friends that aren’t as savvy at making money as me free travel experiences. I’m actually looking forward to next year when there’s less other ex plats standing in my way of the entrance to my flights. I dress down and have a long hair hippy style look so all these people in suits cut in front of me at the gates thinking that I’m not gonna board as quick as them when they don’t even have first class tickets. Someone cut in front of me the other day and I overheard him saying that too many people clog the entrance for him and his girlfriend/wife or whatever waiting to board. I’m not afraid of pussies like him who think they have privilege over me and told him it works both ways and looked him right in the eyes and said often times people judge me because of how I look and cut right in front of me because I don’t look rich and showed him my first class ticket. He was all apologetic and whatnot but it happens all the time that people in suits judge me. But it don’t matter, I’m quite sure they wish they were as smart as me in 98 and knowingly jumped in on plenty of Apple stock as soon as Jobs came back to their company to keep me afloat for a long longtime. I often feel bad for business travelers. They’re traveling for work and I’m just going to try the different lavors of herb around the planet! I look at people wearing nooses(ties) around their necks and laugh. I grew up in a ghetto and have more freedom than all of them.

  7. I’m CK and needed to cancel a flight due to my wife needing emergency dental surgery. I went to cancel within 24 hours of making the reservation. I booked five days in advance outbound/eight return. I was surprised they chose to enforce the not cancellable without regard to reason because it wasn’t a seven day advance. It is clearly within their rights to do so, just as it’s my right to fly someone else since they don’t give me any more systemwide upgrades for additional flying (I have over 300k miles this year)

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