One of the best features of American Airlines’ website is that it allows customers to hold flights for 24 hours without having to plop down a credit card. No other U.S. airlines offers this super handy function, which always made holding fares and seats on American quick and easy.

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But unfortunately, according the Gary Leff of View From The Wing: “On Tuesday American Airlines removed the option to put a flight on a 24 hour hold, rather than purchasing it right away, for many – but apparently not all – customers. Competitors haven’t had this option for years. It’s one of the things that set American Airlines apart and made them easier to buy from.”

I just tried booking a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to New York (JFK) on aa.com for a week from today, and sure enough, the hold option wasn’t there (see screenshot above).

However, when I tried booking the same flight but this time using my AAdvantage miles, the hold option was there (see screenshot above). So it appears American Airlines might have gotten rid of the hold function on cash tickets.

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It’s really a shame because it made reserving flights and seats stress-free. Now, you have to put down a credit card and remember to cancel it within 24 hours if you change your mind. With AA’s hold function, it automatically canceled any flights on hold that weren’t ticketed within the required timeframe.

Remember, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has stated that all US and foreign carriers have to allow consumers the ability “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.” See link to the DOT’s full rule (PDF). However, if you’re booking a ticket with fewer than seven days before you fly, this rule doesn’t apply.

If you do book a flight and think there’s a chance you might want to cancel it within 24 hours, then I suggest using the free email service I use to send me reminders for whenever I want. All you need to do is forward an email for whatever time you want to be reminded. For something like this, I would set the reminder for 12 hours later. Here’s more on the service and how to do it.

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21 Comments On "Say It Ain’t So! American Airlines Eliminates its Best Online Booking Feature"
  1. Ana lee highs|

    About time…. hopefully they will help with operationa many fluke the oversold flight and revenue standbys jumping from a cheap flight purchase to an expensive alot on stand by

  2. Tamara Armentrout|

    I put one on hold Tuesday and it held for 24 hours. Bought it with a CC last night ( Wednesday). Still worked for me.

  3. Roger Cohn|

    Yep. That’s true. But for A platinum customer it’s still available when logged in

  4. Martin Myers|

    Just flew with them worst airline we have every flew on. Left 40 of us waiting at gate. Rude attendant will never fly with them again. They juggle flights to fill plane. Airports are not ready for volume of passengers.

  5. Barry Henry|

    Hi , I just was able to put a flight on hold with no trouble. I did see that if I was using a Trip Credit, I couldn’t put it on hold.

  6. Tracey|

    It was something that was supposed to be phased out a long time ago once the 24 hour refund option was chosen. Believe it or not, most people wanted the refund option.

  7. Derrick|

    Yea the hold option is the only reason i would book with them. The airline is simply too big to deliver decent customer service, overworked and stale service personal are one reason i cant stand the airline. I have also experienced misplaced luggage and they have a terrible reputation of delayed flights.
    My company will only use them if no other airline flies to our business destinations. Delayed and overbooked flights are the main reason. Its like trying to work with republicans.

  8. Nancy|

    We are Platinum Pro…no chance for free HOLD on regular purchased flights. Just tried it! Interesting that others can.

  9. Fig|

    Good for them. The HOLD feature just reduces capacity options for many of us that book/ fly often with firm plans in mind, w/o changing.

    Changing your plans within 24 hrs while deal shopping mucks up the works while people mark seats, only to cancel shortly after. Stupid.
    Good move.

  10. Art|

    It’s hard to imagine that the credit card companies could convince them to leave the feature rather than having millions of needless charges/refunds transactions, which often take days to process.

  11. c. Thompson|

    the hold option is still there. departure date must be at least 8 days from booking. people using trip credits should put an itinerary on hold then call in with the record locator and the trip credit ticket numbers

  12. Ozark|

    “Like trying to work with Republicans” 😂😂😂… good one! Yeah, I just flew American because it was the only airline that flies into Columbia, MO. Hated that I had to go through DFW to get back home to Portland, OR. Flight was delayed 2 1/2 hours in DFW. They said plane that had come in had experienced mechanical problems that they had to fix!!! Yeah, right… 🤦‍♀️

  13. Me|

    As an American airline employee we were told it was broken not gone. However if it is gone I am not upset. It’s very hard getting yelled at for things I can’t control

  14. TrvlExpert|

    If the revenue fare has a 7 day advance purchase then you can’t hold it to day 6 or the fare is void.

  15. Evan Johnson|

    I have been an incredibly loyal American Airlines passenger for over 2 decades. I used to joke that my address was flight 3C on American. My Aunt, being an attendant with them for over 35 years started this loyalty, and my experiences had kept it going.

    However, my experience over the last 2 years has driven me to the point where I now will no longer fly on American. While I have an immense amount of miles with them, my family and I now not be flying American. This feature was an excellent one, and the only real thing that was keeping my loyalty. We will now be flying Delta as our selected Airlines. I just booked our next flight to Orlando on Delta.

    The sad part is that my Aunt, who has only worked for American since she graduated College, completely understands my reasoning and does not hold it against me. All of the changes, this one included, as well as lack of proper compensation for flight cancellations, are the reasons American is in the toilet, and heading down the drain if they do not improve immensely.

  16. Sharyn Ballard|

    American is the worst big airlines in my recent experiences. From wandering on their website through the constant barrage of cons to get me to spend MORE on my ticket. Such a maze of clicking and continuing, go backs, etc.
    Only fly AA out of necessity. Came through Dallas Airport recently– SNAFUS galore.

  17. Tina|

    Travel advisors have had this “hold for 24 hours” for ever… and still do, If you need that feature, contact one near you.
    All airline have sucked since covid and their bail out government money. Staff shortages they had forced retirement, (strongly suggested by management)… then covid mandates. Personally, the airlines have damaged themselves. Hope for eveyone these issues get fixed… move government aint the answer. Fyi.

  18. Doug DeNunzio|

    It is nice to know how the airlines work in general.

  19. Chells|

    People are in here complaining about AA like we have that many options 😄. “I’ll never use them again!” So, what are you using, Frontier, Spirits? Or that guy with his mom who understands his reasoning, lol, I’m changing to “Delta!” He thinks he’s “switching.” You don’t even get a sip of water on Delta. We don’t have many options, but AA have bigger planes, nicer attendants and a few perks like checking your bag for free at the gate. That’s why AA is one of the biggest airlines and thinks they can get away with overbooking and canceling flights because they know we can’t go anywhere. Unless you enjoy smaller planes, less space, hard seats, worse in-flight service, and rude customer service overall between others.
    And BTW, I rather trust an airlines that expresses concerns about mechanical issues than being mad about a 2.5-hour delay, like, whut? And don’t get me started with the political comment or joke. My family tried to “switch” and ended up crawling back to AA real quick 😆. They hated every other airlines more.

  20. Cathy Eldridge|

    Yeah. Wouldn’t want to deal with the brain dead lemmings, I mean Democeats.

  21. Kitty A lloyd|

    This article is full of incorrect information.

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