American Airlines Brings Back Its Free 24-hour Hold Option When Booking

Customers can hold a reservation for up to 24 hours free of charge if they are booking at least a week in advance.

An American Airlines airplane in flight through clouds

Courtesy of American Airlines

American Airlines has brought back its complimentary 24-hour hold option for new reservations after temporarily pausing it.

The carrier has resumed allowing customers to hold a reservation for up to 24 hours free of charge if they are booking at least a week in advance, an American Airlines spokesperson confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Friday. Customers then have a day to figure out if they want to proceed with or cancel the reservation.

The option, however, was temporarily paused during a limited randomized test that was being conducted to evaluate how the 24-hour hold policy was utilized.

“We continue to evaluate our product offerings to customers on and understand customers may need flexibility when booking travel plans,” the spokesperson told T+L.

When travelers do place a ticket on hold, which can be done on the “Review and Pay” page, they often then need to call reservations to complete that booking if they are using a flight credit or trip credit. Customers who cancel within the 24 hour grace period can do so online without having to call. 

While other airlines in the United States don’t necessarily offer a 24-hour hold option, they do allow customers to cancel a ticket within 24 hours of booking and paying for it. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to either “hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty (the “24-hour reservation requirement”).”

Several airlines in the U.S. have also eliminated change fees on most tickets, including United Airlines, which first did so on domestic flights in 2021, followed shortly after by Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. However, most of these policies do not apply to basic economy tickets, including for American.

In April, United started allowing customers who book a basic economy ticket to either upgrade to a standard economy ticket or cancel it for a fee.

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