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Update 3/6/14: This post is outdated. See Master Thread: Holds on United Awards

In What You Need to Know about United Award Holds, I ran through the two ways to hold a United award online:

  1. Any award that contains a partner segment can be held for free if your account does not have sufficient miles to ticket the award immediately. Bill wrote about this trick at length with screen shots.
  2. Any award can be held through the PayPal trick as long as you do have sufficient miles in the account.

The first trick is dead!

How can you now hold a United award?

My friend Naveen alerted me last night that the Reserve button was gone from when you select an itinerary with one or more partner segments and your account has insufficient miles to ticket the award.

For instance, my United account has 6,500 miles in it. I selected a one way award from Tokyo to Los Angeles on ANA that costs 35,000 miles.

Until yesterday, right above the gray Back button, in the screen shot below, there would have been a blue Reserve button.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 5.51.29 PM

Luckily the PayPal trick lives.

The only award I have enough miles to ticket is a one way interisland award within Hawaii, which costs 6k miles.

I selected such a flight and went through the steps of the PayPal trick.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 5.53.04 PM

The trick worked and the award is on hold in my United account for the next few days.

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 5.55.03 PM

The ability to hold United awards when you didn’t have enough miles to ticket right away was crucial to how I booked United awards. It looks like we’ve lost that ability.

I take solace that we can still use the PayPal trick to hold awards, but the general trend toward removing the ability to hold awards by US airlines is bad news.

The gold standard remains American Airlines, which allows courtesy five-day holds on all awards online or by phone.

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