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Every airline and frequent flyer program has their own rules and policies – some items may overlap between airlines and policies may be similar, but ultimately each and every program works differently. Not only that, but some agents love to make up their own rules – which can either work in your favor or lead to frustration if you’re trying to accomplish something allowed by the rules and the agent is refusing. When it comes to booking an award ticket, you always want to do your research before you attempt to book – especially if you are trying to redeem through a different, unfamiliar program.

Placing an Award Ticket on Hold

When it comes to award tickets, many frequent flyer programs require you to book and issue the ticket right away – which could be a problem if it takes a few days to transfer in points to a program.

Thankfully, there are a few airlines that allow you to hold an award ticket – obviously award space must be available and the agent needs to create a new booking record for you. Sometimes you may be able to place an award ticket on hold directly online with select airlines, but in most cases you will need to call the frequent flyer program.

Why Should You Hold an Award Ticket?

There are a few reasons why you may wish to put an award ticket on hold:

  • you are waiting for points to transfer into the airline program from a flexible bank points program
  • you aren’t sure about your travel plans yet
  • the airline doesn’t have a free 24-hour cancel policy
  • you think better award space might open up within the next 72 hours
  • you want to actually confirm if the award space you found is real and not phantom

Those are generally the main reasons why most people would like to place an award on hold – waiting for a points transfer is usually the top reason. However, the other important reason why you’d want to try to place a ticket on hold is to verify if the award space you found is real and not ghost/phantom space. The last thing you want to do is transfer in points only to find out what you found isn’t really available.

How to Hold an Award Ticket

There are a few airlines and frequent flyer programs that allow you to hold an award – in most cases you will have to call:

  • find the award space online
  • call the frequent flyer program and inquire about the same award space you already found
  • ask for the agent to give you a price in miles/points and taxes
  • ask if you can put the award on hold while you transfer in points from a bank program

Some frequent flyer programs don’t have official hold rules published, so it could be up to the agent to honor your hold request. If the agent is refusing, either hang up and call again or ask to speak to a manager.

If you are successful in holding a ticket, the agent will let you know how long it is on hold – the usual timeframe is between 24 – 72 hours, some airlines may allow longer holds. If your hold is for partner award space, note that it will likely be cancelled after 48 hours if not ticketed.

Frequent Flyer Programs That Allow Award Holds

The following airlines/frequent flyer programs allow you to hold an award ticket (either officially or unofficially):

  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
    • you can hold an award directly online, for up to 5 days
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Lufthansa Group Miles & More
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The only program where you can officially hold an award ticket online is with American Airlines AAdvantage – other programs sometimes “hold” the booking temporarily for you as you go through the booking process and if your payment fails, the booking could still potentially be held for you for a few hours. For all other programs above, you will have to call. In most cases, there is no cost to hold an award ticket.

Again, some of these airlines do not have official, published hold policies so the agent you talk to ultimately has the final say – but it doesn’t hurt to try again if you aren’t successful.

All in All

Holding an award ticket is a great practice when redeeming miles – whether it is because you are waiting for a points transfer or you want to confirm if the space isn’t phantom, holding an award can be a great solution. As with every airline, policies are different so be sure to do more research online before you attempt any action – and as always, double check the award space you found before transferring in any points as all transfers are final and you don’t want to be stuck with a huge amount of miles in a program you might not use again soon.

Travel Miles 101 has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Miles 101 and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.