Clarification on American’s new hold/refund policy

Two months ago American Airlines altered their policy for free holds and refunds on tickets purchased. At the time two different versions of the new policy were published (TPG, OMAAT) and let’s just say I may have had a small incident related to the new policy recently (and the conflicting advice from the above two sources) so I spent a bit of time trying to figure out what the actual policy is.

As required by the DoT rules AA still allows for a free 24-hour hold on all tickets for travel more than 7 days from the date of booking. This has not changed from prior policy. Inside of 7 days the policy is different. For those tickets AA no longer allows a free hold but does allow free refunds within 24 hours of the purchase. This is above and beyond what the DoT requires but it is also different from what things were like previously. I do find it slightly annoying that AA is approaching this policy differently from the other major airlines as I often forget their rules are different but Ill hopefully not pay too dearly for that forgetfulness over time.

And, should there be any further confusion as to how I drew the above conclusions, here’s the exact conversation I had with @AmericanAir to get the full details.

AA hold 24 1

AA hold 24 2

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Thanks Seth, this really helped clear things up. Probably the best post on BA this week!

  2. So… if >7 days, then free 24-hour hold, but no 24-hour refund, while if <7 days, then no 24-hour hold, but free 24-hour refund.

    Did I get that right?

    Does that differ from their policies on award tickets?

  3. Still confused.

    So if flight is more than 7 days out, you are allowed 24-hour hold *and* 24-hour refund after booking, or just the courtesy hold?

    1. More than 7 days out you ONLY get the hold. Less than 7 days out you ONLY get the refund. At no point in the process do you get both.

  4. As a refund is still available (which is no worse than I’d have to deal with for any UA ticket), I can deal with this change.

    I’m not sure how it makes loads “more accurate” other than by increasing friction of creating a booking.

  5. What about tickets purchased on that include US segments, for which no 24 hour hold is offered? Can these be cancelled without penalty within 24 hours?

    1. I really don’t know. My expectation is that AA would comply with the DoT rules and grant the 24 hour refund when you call in, and that the DoT would not think positively of them should a complaint be filed indicating that they are not offering such. But I am not going to risk my money to find out.

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