Family Vacation Tips

How Courtesy Holds Can Help You Find An Affordable Family Vacation

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 30, 2013 2:10:00 PM / by Sally Black

Sally Black

affordable family vacation What's a courtesy hold?

A courtesy hold allows you to put airline seats, cruise cabins and hotel space on hold for a limited amount of time, generally up to 24 hours.

So what?...why is this important?

Airline prices change by the second. There are millions of folks out there all trying to book their travel plans simultanteously.  Airline seats and hotel space are constantly being pulled in and out of inventory through the many online reservation systems. It's like trying to play the the stock market.  Just because you found a great airline ticket price yesterday, it doesn't mean it's there waiting for you today.


How can I do one of these courtesy holds?

When folks book their own airline tickets online they are usually required to buy their tickets immediately. You must commit and put in your credit card information right away to confirm your reservations.

In most cases, a travel agent can hold airline seats and hotel rooms for up to 24 hours. You  are under NO obligation to buy travel the moment you find it. A courtesy hold lets you have a little extra time and not be disappointed.

How can a courtesy hold help me and save money?

Lots of ways actually...

  •  It gives you time to confirm work, school and play schedules with everyone in the family without fear of losing the great deal you found. If you booked immediately and suddently realized your travel dates conflicted with your son's SAT test or daughter's softball competition, chances are you'd find yourself dealing with customer service hassles and paying change fee penatlies.
  •  Remember we said flights and hotel rooms are constantly moving in and out of inventory. Someone else out there may have an even better deal on hold. After 24 hours, they decide not to travel. You can swoop in and get an even better deal. If you already booked your trip, you'd be out of luck.
  •  A courtesy hold gives you a bit time to continue to shop. If you find even better pricing on the EXACT same trip at one of the online travel websites, there is a very good chance that your travel agent will be able to match or beat it.  If the deal is too good to be true, then your travel agent can explain why and help you to avoid costly problems down the road.
  •  Every airline, hotel and tour company has different payment rules. Some will allow a minimal deposit to confirm your trip with the balance due 45-60 days prior to departure. Others require payment in full at the time of booking. Courtesty holds allow travel agents to see all of this information so they can better inform you.

What happens if we put a trip on hold and then find something better the next day?

Nothing. You are not obliged to pay anything for the trip you have on hold. If you decide that you don't want it then your travel agent can cancel it for you and put a hold on your new vacation.

What does my travel agent need to do in order to put our vacation on a courtesy hold?

To put a airline seats or a hotel room on hold for your family, your travel agent will need to know the gender, first, middle and last names of all passengers going on this trip along with their dates of birth (month/day/year). 

If your family is traveling domestically within the U.S., then all of this information must match your photo driver's license or ID exactly.

If your family is traveling to the Caribbean, Mexico or any where else internationally, then all this same information must match your passport EXACTLY.

This seems like a lot of personal information to part with?

Sorry... We travel agents would rather not have to type all this information into our reservation system every time we put space on hold either. It's not us. This information is required by the government. The TSA has very strict rules to help keep everyone safe while traveling that we travel agents must follow.

So the smart thing to do would be to put every great deal I see on hold...right?

Nope, sounds logical but not! Tour companies and airlines have strict rules about coutesy holds. They will only allow 1 courtesy hold per family.  If multiple holds are detected from the same person, ALL of your holds will cancel and you will be left with nothing.  This is one of those situations where the "one per customer" rule applies. Your travel agent will need to cancel one hold before you hold or confirm any other trip.

What if 24 hours isn't enough? What if I need more time to decide?

Sometimes, we travel agents can extend a courtesy hold. Hotels and cruise cabins are often flexible...the airlines - not so much.  

If you're courtesy hold expires, your travel agent can always try to go back and re-hold space for another 24 hours. Just know once your hold expires, it's up for grabs. Your travel agent can certainly try but there is no way to guarantee they will be able to get your space back for another 24 hours.

Can a travel agent always put space on a courtesy hold for me?

Not always...courtesy holds are not allowed for last minute departures.  Airlines and hotels don't want to get stuck with any unused inventory. If there is any possibility that someone else might come along and buy it at the very last minute, they won't allow us to hold it. They don't want to take the risk geting stuck holding empty seats or rooms so that they could have sold otherwise.

What if we book now and the airline or cruise company has a last minute sale?

This has nothing to do with a courtesy hold. Still we understand that it is important for folks to get the best deal out there.  Many travel companies now offer best price guarantees. If their prices drop before you depart on your vacation, you are guaranteed to pay the lowest price.  If your travel company doesn't offer this feature there are travel insurance policies available that will insure that you pay the lowest price.

Bottom line, your travel agent can help you with courtesy holds, the best deposit and payment options as well as insuring that you pay the best price for your vacation. The services of our Vacationkids travel agents are free and we're here to help you save money and get the best deals possible.

Topics: Affordable Family Vacations

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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