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American Airlines Ticket Hold Rule Change – No 24 Hour Hold For Flights Within 7 Days

by on March 31, 2014 · 7 comments

in American Airlines

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As it proceeds with its merger with US Airways, American Airlines has been making some policy changes lately. First it announced that it would no longer be offering bereavement fares, then the airline devalued its Choice Fares by paring down the bundled benefits and jacking up the prices on fares that include change fee waivers. Recently, the airline also did away with another flyer-friendly policy of allowing ticket holds of up to 24 hours even on flights within a 7-day window.

The Department of Transportation requires airlines “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty,” but that is only the case for departures over 7 days from the purchase date. American used to extend the courtesy by just putting the itinerary on hold for you without having to pay for it for 24 hours and then charging you if you didn’t change it, so it essentially waived the 7+ days requirement.

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But now AA’s site says: “You may place your reservation on hold for up to 24 hours if you are booking the reservation seven or more days prior to departure.” The good news is, shortly after this change American noted that you could actually purchase a ticket and still cancel it free of charge within 24 hours whether or not you were within 7 days of departure, so there is still room to play around. It’s a slightly more restrictive policy – however, it’s one that’s more in line with the other major US carriers.

As a reminder, here is a rundown of the ticketing hold, change and cancellation policies of the major US airlines as they currently are.

Alaska: Change/Cancellation Fee for changes made at least 60 days prior to ticketed flight departure is $0, and $125 for those made within 60 days of departure.

American: Though you can’t hold a ticket within 7 days of departure now, you can buy it then cancel within 24 hours risk-free if you’re 7 days or more out from departure. And remember, you can still purchase (more expensive) Choice Fares that waive change fees if you think your plans might change.

Delta: Once you’ve bought a qualifying eTicket, you have a day to cancel it for any reason and receive a full refund—including any prepaid fees and Direct Ticketing Charges—with no cancellation fee. Cancellation request must be made by midnight of the day after the eTicket is purchased or midnight of the departure date of the first flight, whichever comes first. Available only for eTickets purchased at the time of reservation through Delta ticket offices and airport ticket counters, Reservation Sales, or at delta.com.

JetBlue: Customers will have 24 hours from the time of their original booking to cancel their reservation without being charged a cancellation fee if travel was booked seven (7) days or more prior to the departure date (not applicable for Getaways reservations). Bookings that have been changed are not eligible for a credit card refund and are subject to a cancellation fee, regardless of being within 24 hours of the original booking.

Southwest: The airline lets you change or cancel a fare within the 24 hour window without penalty, but it also allows you to change or cancel a reservation anytime before flight time and get a credit for the full amount of your fare, applicable to future travel within a year of the original reservation. You will have to pay any applicable fare increase.

United: Tickets purchased through united.com or the United Customer Contact Center in the last 24 hours may qualify for waiver of change or cancellation fees under our 24-hour flexible booking policy. In all other cases, please choose your refund type below and select Continue to begin the refund request process.. You can also use United’s FareLock by paying to hold a reservation anywhere from 72 hours to 7 days.

US Airways: You’re allowed to cancel your US Airways ticket (refundable or non-refundable) for a full refund (and no change fees and/or difference in fare). To do so, you must call within 24 hours of purchase to cancel (and request a refund). This does not apply to Dividend Miles award tickets.

Virgin America: Virgin will let you hold your itinerary for 24 hours when booking through our reservations call center. Regardless of the booking method, if you purchase a ticket and need to cancel within 24 hours of the original purchase, a full refund will be provided in your original form of payment without penalty.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • John

    Another reason to not buy tickets directly from American. Orbitz lets you cancel any ticket by 11 pm EST the next day. In many cases that’s more than 24 hours to cancel!

  • stvr

    I find JetBlue to be the most annoying to deal with in this regard — within 7 days.

  • Lonetree

    Ugh. The spiral downward begins. It was nice knowing you AA.

  • Wandering Aramean

    “The good news is, shortly after this change American noted that you could actually purchase a ticket and still cancel it free of charge within 24 hours whether or not you were within 7 days of departure”

    This is not correct. You can only get a free refund within 24 hours if you are within 7 days of travel. Outside of that the only option is the free hold.

  • HarryTuttle

    The 24 hour rule is all fine and dandy if you’re using a US credit card. Non-US credit card holders can potentially wait up to 3+ months to get a refund. Even my “expedited” refund due to a website issue took a solid month.

    Also I’ve recently had an issue with a 24 hour hold where AA quietly changed my class of travel after putting it on hold and before I paid for it by sneaking in a “schedule change” notification at checkout less than 12 hours later. Naturally I looked at the itinerary schedule and didn’t spot the downgrade on one segment from J class business to G class coach. It took more than a couple of calls to get them to stick to the original held itinerary/airfare. Didn’t see anything in their policies saying they could change things on a held itinerary.

  • Kevin

    AA has actually changed their policy to be even more onerous (and borders violating the DOT rule). Now, if you paid for your flight (inadventently gave a credit card instead of holding the flight) even if it is 7 days out and you try to cancel it within 24 hours they refuse. They cite that the rule is EITHER have an option to hold OR allow for a 24 hour cancellation for advance purchase flights. They opted for the former while almost every other airline recognizes it’s important to have both.

    “to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty”

  • Jason

    Was told this in a very rude way by a supervisor named Charles Brown at the Dallas Reservations Center

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