Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies Resource – Which Airlines Allow What?
This resource is a look at the various airline award ticket hold policies. Which airlines (specifically, their loyalty programs) allow you to put an award ticket on hold? Can you wait and have time to think about it? Is there a fee for this waiting period? Many airlines do not allow you to hold a ticket while thinking about it or even just while waiting for your miles to transfer into your account. Here’s a look at each airline’s policy and any special notes to consider for that airline.
Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies
We define a “hold” as an airline allowing you to claim a seat via award booking with miles/points without having to pay & confirm right now. You get time to think about it and confirm the reservation later. Meanwhile, that seat is protected and won’t be sold/given away to someone else. It’s yours until the hold time expires.
In alphabetical order, here are the award ticket hold policies for the various loyalty programs.
|Aer Lingus||no award holds|
|Air Canada / Aeroplan||no award holds|
|Air France / KLM Flying Blue||24-72 hours||Varies by how far in advance, partners, etc.|
|Alaska Airlines||no award holds|
|Alitalia||14 day hold||no partner holds|
|American Airlines||5 day hold if more than 15 days in advance, less time if closer to booking||Cathay Pacific only 24hr hold, GOL only 3 day hold|
|ANA||no award holds|
|Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific||no award holds|
|Asiana||no award holds||Some phone agents will do it, but rare|
|Avianca / LifeMiles||for a fee, no partner holds|
|British Airways||no award holds|
|Delta Air Lines||technically no||24hr hold over the phone/via chat but not all agents will do it|
|Emirates||no award holds|
|Etihad||24 hours, maybe more||they will hold (some agents don't know it's possible) but it's a 'request hold' with partners, seat may still disappear|
|EVA Air||no award holds|
|Finnair||no award holds|
|Frontier||no award holds|
|Hawaiian||no award holds|
|Iberia||72hr hold, there is a fee but it's subtracted if you complete the booking||Policy is here: https://bit.ly/3fNlZZu|
|JAL||no award holds|
|JetBlue||no award holds|
|Korean Air||technically no||Used to offer "pay later" online, now you can call & ask but no guarantee|
|LATAM||no award holds|
|Lufthansa||5-day hold||Lufthansa group + Croatian & Ethiopian only|
|Qantas||no award holds|
|Qatar||no award holds|
|Royal Air Maroc||no award holds|
|Royal Jordanian||no award holds|
|Singapore Airlines||length varies by agent, via phone only||no partner holds|
|Southwest||no award holds|
|TAP Portugal||no award holds|
|Thai Airways||no award holds|
|Turkish Airlines||technically no||seemingly possible but hard to accomplish, many agents say no|
|United Airlines||FareLock for 3/7/14 days, pay a fee||Policy is here: https://bit.ly/31QK75h|
|Virgin Atlantic||24hr hold|
|Virgin Australia||no award holds|
There are some key takeaways that are worth highlighting.
- The majority of airlines do not offer a hold period.
- For those that offer a hold period, there are typically restrictions, fees, or both.
- It’s super rare for an airline to offer a free hold period.
Another important consideration is whether you can accomplish the same thing in a different way. For example, Southwest Airlines does not offer award ticket holding times. However, you can change your booking to another flight with no penalty. This means you can book without fear of paying to cancel, paying a change fee, losing some miles along the way, etc. Essentially, you can “hold” the seat, but you’ll have to make a complete booking to do it. If you change your mind, cancel it and get your miles/fees refunded.
At present, many airlines are waiving fees for changes/cancellations. You can view the new policies here and also our resource on change/cancellation fees here. Remember that you may pay a cost difference if changing to another flight, but this is a way to accomplish a “hold” while you think about it, yet the seat won’t go away during your thinking time.
Additionally, we should highlight 3 programs that offer holds for a fee. Iberia (policy here) allows you to put an award on hold and credits this fee to your booking if you complete the reservation. Air France tells me it’s possible for 24-72 hours and that the fee “varies” depending on many factors, but that’s all the info they would provide. United charges you, and the fee isn’t refundable / given as a credit toward the booking.
Hang Up, Call Again
There are some airlines where the hold policy is “technically no.” This means that there is no official policy allowing for holds, but some customer service representatives from the airline may allow you to put an award ticket on hold. With these airlines, there are data points showing this is possible. You can accomplish this by chatting or calling the airline after finding the flights you want. Tell them the itinerary you are interested in, then confirm the seats are available. Let them know you want to book but need to transfer points / miles into your account. Ask them to hold the itinerary for you until the miles show up, so the seats won’t disappear.
Some employees may do this for you, and others might tell you it’s not possible. If that happens, “hang up, call again.” See if the next phone rep will do it for you. If they won’t do it, remember that there’s no policy saying you can do this, so don’t get mad at them.
Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies – Final Thoughts
It’s great when airline loyalty programs have customer-friendly policies. Allowing you to put a booking on hold is very customer friendly. It gives you the confidence that the seat(s) you want won’t go away while you think about it, talk to your family, transfer in miles, etc. There’s nothing worse than finding a seat you want, transferring the miles, and then the seat is gone by the time the miles show up to complete the booking. With this resource, now you know what the various airline award ticket hold policies are. It should make your booking process smoother.