One of the challenging aspects of booking award travel is that award space is often incredibly fluid.
Piecing together an award ticket can be complicated, so my preferred approach is to put the long haul flight on hold whenever possible, then add the shorter segments as I go. This takes more phone calls, but I’d rather that than have award space disappear on a product I’m excited about.
However, not every airline allows holds on award tickets, while other mileage programs do allow award ticket holds under varying circumstances.
Some will allow award ticket holds for a day, some for a few days, and some only if you already have enough miles for the ticket in your account.
American AAdvantage allows award holds of up to five days
This is particularly helpful if you need to transfer points from a flexible points currency like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
Given that, I thought it might be helpful to consolidate the award ticket hold policies of the various airlines into one place. This isn’t comprehensive, but these are the airlines I’m asked about most frequently.
Mileage Program Hold Policy Air Canada Aeroplan Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Air France/KLM Flying Blue Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Alitalia Millemiglia • Alitalia-only awards can be held for up to 14 days
• Partner award holds are very dependent on the agent
American Airlines AAdvantage • Between 330 and 15 days prior to departure - 5 day hold
• 14 days or fewer prior to departure - 1 day hold
• Within 24 hours of departure - up until 2 hours prior to departure
ANA Mileage Club
Doesn't allow holds on award tickets British Airways Executive Club Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Delta SkyMiles
Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Iberia Plus Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Korean Air SkyPass • Partner awards - 5 days
• Korean awards - up to 2 days prior to departure
Lufthansa Miles & More Up to 5-day holds for Lufthansa Group Airlines and select partners
[Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia Airlines, Asiana, Ethipian, Jet Airways]
Qantas Frequent Flyer Doesn't allow holds on award tickets Singapore Kris Flyer Doesn't allow holds on award tickets United Mileage Plus Doesn't allow holds on award tickets US Airways Dividend Miles • Between 335 and 4 days prior to departure - 72 hour hold
• Between 96 and 24 hours prior to departure - 24 hour hold
• Within 24 hours prior to departure - 3 hour hold
Virgin Atlantic • 24 hour holds
Understanding airline hold policies can be incredibly valuable, given how fluid award space is. Being able to hold an award ticket before ticketing certainly makes my life easier, so I do what I can to stick to those programs as much as possible.