About 10 days ago I posted about the rumored changes coming to American’s ticket hold policy. Rumor had it that as of April 1, 2016, American would begin allowing ticket refunds within 24 hours of booking. This contrasts to their currency policy, where they let you hold a ticket for up to a day (in practice up until midnight the following night), but they don’t give you a grace once the ticket is issued.
Either policy satisfies the Department of Transportation’s requirement that airlines offer consumers 24 hours to change their mind on tickets.
Personally I loved American’s hold policy, since I could lock in tickets speculatively, and then if I didn’t ticket them they’d automatically cancel. Meanwhile many airlines with a 24 hour refund policy make you jump through hoops to cancel (like having to call).
Back when I first posted about this rumored change, an American spokesperson confirmed that they were considering changing the hold policy, but hadn’t reached a decision yet.
Well, it’s now official, and a decision has been made. Starting tomorrow, American will replace their current 24 hour hold policy with a 24 hour refund policy. Here’s what American had to say:
I wanted to let you know that we’re switching to a 24-hour refund instead of 24-hour hold. It goes into effecttomorrow, Friday April 1 (no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke). Customers will still see the 24-hour hold option on aa.com for the time being, although that is temporary. Our policy to meet the DOT rule, which applies to reservations made via a call center or aa.com (or any other American Airlines channel) is the 24-hour refund.
There’s no change for booking AAdvantage award tickets – the hold option remains for those.
We’re making the switch to minimize the customer confusion that arose sometimes because our policy was different from those of other airlines.
I figured it’s worth specifically calling out that American’s policy isn’t changing for award tickets, where five day holds will still be possible.
It’s now official that American is eliminating free holds on revenue tickets, and instead replacing them with 24 hour refunds. I’m sad to see this change as a consumer (since I loved the ease of holding a ticket), but I also can’t blame American for making this change. If I were running an airline I’d probably do the same.