Resource: Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies – Which Airlines Allow What?

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Resource: Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies - Which Airlines Allow What?

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.

AirlinePolicyNotes
Aer Lingusno award holds
Air Canada / Aeroplanno award holds
Air France / KLM Flying Blue24-72 hoursVaries by how far in advance, partners, etc.
Alaska Airlinesno award holds
Alitalia14 day holdno partner holds
American Airlines5 day hold if more than 15 days in advance, less time if closer to bookingCathay Pacific only 24hr hold, GOL only 3 day hold
ANAno award holds
Asia Miles / Cathay Pacificno award holds
Asianano award holdsSome phone agents will do it, but rare
Avianca / LifeMilesfor a fee, no partner holds
British Airwaysno award holds
Delta Air Linestechnically no24hr hold over the phone/via chat but not all agents will do it
Emiratesno award holds
Etihad24 hours, maybe morethey will hold (some agents don't know it's possible) but it's a 'request hold' with partners, seat may still disappear
EVA Airno award holds
Finnairno award holds
Frontierno award holds
Hawaiianno award holds
Iberia72hr hold, there is a fee but it's subtracted if you complete the bookingPolicy is here: https://bit.ly/3fNlZZu
JALno award holds
JetBlueno award holds
Korean Airtechnically noUsed to offer "pay later" online, now you can call & ask but no guarantee
LATAMno award holds
Lufthansa5-day holdLufthansa group + Croatian & Ethiopian only
Qantasno award holds
Qatarno award holds
Royal Air Marocno award holds
Royal Jordanianno award holds
Singapore Airlineslength varies by agent, via phone onlyno partner holds
Southwestno award holds
TAP Portugalno award holds
Thai Airwaysno award holds
Turkish Airlinestechnically noseemingly possible but hard to accomplish, many agents say no
United AirlinesFareLock for 3/7/14 days, pay a feePolicy is here: https://bit.ly/31QK75h
Virgin Atlantic24hr hold
Virgin Australiano award holds

Key Takeaways

There are some key takeaways that are worth highlighting.

  1. The majority of airlines do not offer a hold period.
  2. For those that offer a hold period, there are typically restrictions, fees, or both.
  3. 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.

Resource: Airline Award Ticket Hold Policies - Which Airlines Allow What?

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.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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2 COMMENTS

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2 COMMENTS

  1. According to Frequent Miler Turkish allows 48 hour holds if booking over the phone. I haven’t tried yet, but I’m thinking about it for a booking next year. I’ll let you know if I get a data point to share.

    • I can mark them as ‘technically no’. I’ve seen the rare unicorns of someone saying they got a hold time when researching for this, but those seem like rarities for sure. Seems like a lot of HUCA in your future.

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