Airline 24 Hour Cancellation and Hold Policies

Which airlines allow 24 hour cancellation without penalty? I'm regularly emailed about American Airlines, for example, charging for a cancellation within 24 hours of booking, but that's because it offers a 24 hour hold instead.

Department of Transportation (DOT) rules require that (bolding mine):

“…passengers will be able to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty, for 24 hours after the reservation is made, if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight's departure date.”

Most U.S. airlines offer 24 hour cancellation, although as American Airlines illustrates, it can vary depending on whether the reservation is over 1 week prior or not.

Here are current airline 24 hour cancellation policies. Note that these policies are for tickets bought in the U.S. (hence regulated by DOT) and that the clock starts ticking from time of purchase, not from time of ticketing.

American Airlines

Paid Tickets:

  • 24 hour hold for tickets booked more than 7 days prior to travel (no free 24 hour cancellation)
  • No hold, but free 24 hour cancellation for tickets booked less than 7 days prior to travel

Award Tickets:

  • 5 day hold (no free 24 hour cancellation)


British Airways

Paid and Award Tickets: Free 24 hour cancellation, but note that there is no refund if you cancel within 24 hours of your flight departure



Paid and Award Tickets:

  • Free 24 hour cancellation
  • Note that award tickets cancelled within 72 hours of departure are non-refundable


Paid and Award Tickets: Free 24 hour cancellation

KLM / Air France

Paid and Award Tickets: Free 24 hour cancellation


United Airlines

Paid and Award Tickets: Free 24 hour cancellation

US Airways

Paid Tickets: Free 24 hour cancellation

Award Tickets: 3 day hold (no free 24 hour cancellation)


Have you taken advantage of airlines' free 24 hour cancellation policies?

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