American introduces extended reservations. Hold a fare for up to seven days.

Screenshot from AA.com
“Screenshot of the next extended hold feature at AA.com” Photo credit: aadvantageGeek on Flickr

If you haven’t made a reservation in the last few days, you may not have noticed a new feature that American Airlines is testing at AA.com: You can now hold a reservation for up to 7 days and lock in your fare for only $5.

One of my favorite features at AA.com is that for as long as I can remember, American has been the only carrier that allows you to place a 24 hour hold on a reservation. Over the years I’ve often had to travel with a colleague, a family member or a friend, and have frequently ended up being responsible for organizing the trip and making air travel arrangements. Being able to make a reservation, hold a fare for 24 hours and then confirm final travel plans has been an invaluable feature.

Every now and then I’ve come across a really great fare that’s too good to resist, but because I usually like to travel with someone else, I’ve wished that I could hold a ticket a few days longer in order to talk someone (usually my brother) into going with me. Sometimes, I’ll just put a ticket on hold because I see a great fare and then check to see if I can find a good hotel rate.

I read a rumor about this new feature last week in a forum that I follow. The forum member that posted it is almost always accurate, but I didn’t post anything then because it wasn’t official.  According to the his post this is just a trial and not all reservations will trigger the extended hold offer:

Extended Hold Trial (trial period March 25 – May 05, 2011)

Today, customers can hold reservations for 24 hours or until midnight the next day without payment before the reservations are cancelled.

After the implementation, for a trial period from March 25 to May 05, 2011, customers will have the option to hold a non-refundable reservation for up to 7 days (or 3 days depending on the offer period) for a charge. The duration of the extended hold offer and associated charge will vary throughout the trial. After an itinerary is booked on AA.com with the conventional 24 hour hold, customers will see the extended hold offer under the following conditions:

• Fare is non-refundable
• Flights are marketed and operated by American Airlines, American Eagle, and/or American Connection
• Domestic itinerary within the 48 contiguous U.S. (excludes Alaska and Hawaii, Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands)
• Current date is greater than 30 days prior to scheduled departure date

You can still hold a reservation for 24 hours for free, let’s hope that never goes away, but this new feature is a nice improvement.   Frankly, I’d pay $5 dollars just for the added convenience and flexibility that the extended hold offers.

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