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Update 3/6/14: This post is outdated.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

You can get a free hold of up to three days on United Airlines awards. There is one technique for a hold if you have the miles in your account to ticket the award, there is another technique if you don’t have the miles, and there’s a way to extend those 24 hour holds to three days.

Holding Without Sufficient Miles

Bill gave away the best way to hold an award two months ago in The Trick to Hold United Awards.

The gist is that if you:

  • don’t have enough miles in your united.com account to ticket an award
  • that contains at least one partner segment
  • you can reserve the award for free for 24 hours.

If you have an account with 13,500,000 United miles, you can still hold an award in a dummy account with zero miles then later book the award by phone from your account with all the miles simply by stating the confirmation number. Held awards aren’t really tied to the account that held them.

If you want an award that doesn’t really contain a partner segment–i.e. it’s completely flown on United flights–you just add a dummy segment to the award operated by US Airways or any other partner to activate the free hold.

The award says it is held until the next day at midnight, but I find the award sometimes expires before I think it will–possibly because of confusion over when midnight on a certain day is. (Does midnight June 1 mean the minute after 11:59 PM May 31 or the minute before 12:01 AM June 2 to United?) For this reason, I just think of the hold as 24 hours.

Holding With Sufficient Miles

If you do have enough miles in your account to book the award now, you can still hold the award for the same 24 hours by

  • going all the way to the purchase screen
  • clicking the pay with PayPal icon
  • clicking return to United when you get to PayPal.com
  • going to Change/View Existing Reservations.

The award you were working on will show up there as a held award with a confirmation number. For screen shots, see Airline Hotel Credit Cards.

Extending the Hold

United agents can extend the hold on awards. The line I have used with 100% success is that I have transferred in some points from Starwood, and I was hoping to extend the hold by 48 hours.

The extended hold can be granted and will show up on your reservation on united.com.

This request makes a lot more sense if you use Bill’s hold trick instead of the PayPal hold trick, so you may want to always use Bill’s hold trick.

Ticketing Held Awards

If you use either trick to hold your award and make no edits to the held award, you can ticket it online by finding it under Change/View Existing Reservations and clicking Complete Purchase Now.

If you have made edits to the held award, you cannot ticket online. Call United at 800-UNITED-1 to ticket the award. The agent will try to charge you $25 per ticket to ticket the award by phone as a matter of habit. Politely explain that you started the award online, ran into an error message, and had to call up to ticket the award. Ask for the fee to be waived, and it will be.

The Gold Standard

Now why can’t United just ape American’s hold policy? A free five day hold–no questions asked or shenanigans required–whether you make the hold online or by phone.

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