Extending AA Award Holds – Very Limited Usability

This is so niche, but it’s interesting to know. It’s also my first award travel post, so here’s hoping to more and better info.

I recently learned when AA has an issue with finalizing an award ticket, they will issue a hold on the reservation. For example, I was booking a series of one way flights and already had my entire itinerary on hold. I actually didn’t have enough miles for all the flights because both Citi and Barclay were taking forever to post, but I had enough for some of the flights.

After booking most of the flights, I noticed AA didn’t immediately debit the miles from my account balance. I knew from my calculations that I didn’t have enough miles for the entire trip, but my hold was about to expire in a few hours, so I decided to test my luck and book the rest. Unsurprisingly, I received an email saying there was a problem booking my last few flights and that I needed to call in. Surprisingly, though, AA gave me a new expiration date for my hold that was five days in the future. This was on top of the five days that I already had through a regular hold.

I was eventually able to book the flights after my additional miles posted and before the new hold expired.

This gives a very niche opportunity. If you have an itinerary in mind and have enough miles to book some but not all flights, this provides a way to extend a hold by an additional five days. The flights that you book first will be properly booked, but the flights you book later will have a problem, and you’ll receive an email asking you to call in.

Another note is that the record locator will no longer be usable online if you do this. Phone agents will be able to access it fine, so you’ll need to explain the situation to get them to waive the phone booking fee.

I know how specific these circumstances are, but it might be useful if you’re near a mileage posting date and just need a little more time or if you’re considering buying miles. The other idea is to try to get AA’s system to experience some other error when booking an award ticket, but I don’t know enough about their system to say anything with certainty.

As always, hopefully this is of some use to people.

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