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Policy Update & Clarification: Extending Travel Credit

Employee
Employee
Blog updated April 4, 2020, at 7:40 pm CT

 

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our Customers, our operation, and our Employees, we wanted to update you on decisions regarding extending travel credit for Customers. Please keep in mind this is a rapidly changing and dynamic situation that requires constant assessment and adjustment. The good news is we are making some Customer-friendly changes.

 

With the unprecedented cancellations and airport closings happening every day, we understand travel plans are changing for many Customers. So, we are making a temporary exception to our already very flexible travel funds policy. As you may know, our current policy outlines that nonrefundable tickets not flown on the travel date, but canceled in accordance with Southwest’s No Show Policy, can be applied to future travel up to one year from the original purchase date, but must be used by the individual named on the ticket.

 

In recognition of the current travel environment, we are once again extending the expiration date of some travel funds:

 

  • Customers with travel funds that would have expired or will expire between
    March 1- June 30, 2020, will expire on June 30, 2021.

  • Any travel funds created because a Customer cancels a flight between March 1– June 30, 2020, will expire on June 30, 2021.

We hope this additional policy enhancement provides our Customers with more flexibility and options for future travel planning.

 

It will take our Technology Teams a few weeks to make these changes to the expiration date of the funds, and we appreciate your patience while our Teams work quickly to make this happen. This gives Customers an additional year to use their funds and take the same trip next year as they were planning to take this year. 

 

We hope the above information is helpful in assisting you as we navigate through this unchartered territory.

 

158 Comments
New Arrival

I purchased a trip in September 2019 for a cruise in March 2020. I paid $550 for a round trip ticket from Baltimore to San Juan, PR. After talking to my relatives, they were going to return on April 6th. My return was for April 5. I called Southwest and made the change and was given travel funds of $102.00 due to the lesser price. On February 28 I noticed a price change and called and was given a travel fund credit of $70.40 which now gave me a total of $172.40.  As the virus hit, Carnival cancelled my cruise the middle of March. I contacted Southwest and cancelled my flight. I was then given Travel funds in the amount of $383.00, which gave me a total of $550.40. When I spoke to Southwest after they extended the date to use travel funds to June 2021, I was told that the only funds carried forward were the $383. And that the other changes ($172.40) would expire on September 25, 2020. Since I am elderly and having to not travel, I will lose those funds. Southwest had use of $550.00 of my money for 6 months,  ut is only willing to extend the whole travel funds do I can use them for next year.

New Arrival

Allegient Air gave me my money back but Southwest Air will only give a voucher. Step up to the plate Southwest Air and give me my money back. The event our family was going to will not be happening next year and I do not need to fly next year. Refund the money please as a voucher is not worth anything to us. Sad to see you are taking advantage of Americans during the pandemic.

New Arrival

I have a voucher that expires April 5th if this year and tried to book a flight for September to attend a wedding and it stated i had no travel funds.  I call the customer service number and the manager Cindy stated that the voucher can be extended for a $100 which makes no sense.  It’s not my fault I couldn’t use the voucher during spring break last week due to the covid 19.  If the travel funds are being extended how and what do i need to do?

New Arrival

That is not what their Travel Fund exception policy, posted 1 week ago, states. It states that any travel funds expiring or having expired between March 1 and May 31 are extended until June 2021. Have you emailed them? Send them an email and request to be called back. 

Active Member

I have emailed , written, called and best way to get their attention is via twitter or social media

they are not being helpful and I’m out $633 for hotel booked with them that I paid in full! 

New Arrival

Update to my post from 3/19. I finally received an email back regarding my Travel Funds, for a flight cancelled on 3/12 that utilized existing travel funds from 9/29/19 to book it. It was a mostly “canned email” stating that I did not qualify for an extension and then repeating the somewhat ambiguous extension announcement. I write an immediate response and submitted it and less than 10 minutes later, Travis from customer service actually called me. It turns out I do indeed get an extension. He apologized and agreed that the wording of the extension is not clear. My account still dies not reflect a revised date, but I am resting easier knowing that I have a little over a year to use my funds. Thank you, Travis and thank you Southwest, but could you please do something to make sure the oriole responding to these calls and emails understand the amended policy. 

New Arrival

Extending travel funds for the pandemic is a good gesture but an incomplete one.  The reason cancellations are occurring is not only that an airport might be restricted but that the accommodations/plans that were to occur during the trip are also canceled.  To this end, I believe the early bird fees should also be included as a part of the cancellation, whether canceled by Southwest or the Passenger.  People who are canceling are not doing so by choice, this is an inconvenience for most. Many people are trying to do the right thing as well and adhering to the stay-at-home philosophy to stop the spread of the infection. Keeping the early bird funds seems like just another slap in the face!

New Arrival

I purchased my tickets in December of 2019 for travel the last 2 wks of March 2020. so under standard policy travel credit would expire in December 2020.  The government is recommending no travel (even domestic) to stop the spread of covid19.I had to cancel my travel plans for March and now I can't plan for March 2021 unless my expiration date gets extended, which is what I hope.  You can't expect families to vacation right now and it's completely out of our control.  Everyone affected by this should be offered the extension through June 2021.

Active Member

Just FYI, I received and email from Apple Leisure Group whom Southwest Vacations uses as a third party for booking packages with hotel. 

If you booked a package with hotel you should be getting an email to request your refund which takes 90 days dues to high volume.

Now if only Southwest Airlines would follow suit and extend the expiration dates to December 2021 as Apple Leisure Group is doing, everyone would be happy!

This is the email I received from Apple Leisure Group

Dear Valued Customer,
Your health and safety is our top priority. As such, we regret that you are not able to travel as planned due to COVID-19. We hope that things normalize soon and you can enjoy your vacation in the near future.
In fact, we want to make it easier for you to do so with our new Rebook Now. Recharge Later promotion. With this offer, you can opt to receive Future Travel Credit (less any applicable penalties or scheduled air value) PLUS an additional 25%!  Please note that, for your convenience, scheduled air rebookings must be on the same air carrier and must follow the airline’s guidelines for rebooking so that we may transfer your air credit from the original reservation. The Future Travel Credit is valid for rebooking and travel all the way through December 15, 2021, giving you plenty of time to plan for an even better trip.  You will not be able to add Travel Protection Plus to your new reservation using your Future Travel Credit.  Customers are subject to airline rebooking policies and any other supplier guidelines and penalties that may have been accepted and incurred on the original reservation.
Full refunds, less any applicable penalties and scheduled air value, are available to those customers who prefer one.  Please keep in mind that due to unprecedented circumstances, refund processing may take up to 90 days. We are actively adding resources to our accounting team in an effort to reduce this timeframe. We truly appreciate your patience.
Please let us know if you would like the Future Travel Credit + 25% or a refund by clicking one of the choices below:
Please respond by clicking either “Travel Credit 125%” or “Refund” Links.
Thank you for booking with us, and most of all, stay healthy! We look forward to sunnier days ahead.
 

New Arrival

Thanks SWA! 

 

This is exactly what I needed and another justification of why I ONLY fly SWA.

 

 

Active Member

An added note.

 

I had canceled my SW Vacations online and submitted a refund request from their website, as well as connected through social media outlets since they never responded

 

I also went to Apple Leisure Group's facebook and sent them a direct message and posted on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AppleLeisureGroup/  

Please do asap if you have not done so.

Not sure if they are just sending out emails to those who have not done it. 

 

I was being very tenacious and do not stop until you get some responses or case numbers. 

New Arrival

While it seems many appreciate this update due to the current situation, if SWA, or any airline, receives any government assistance, they should refund 100% of fares cancelled related to this pandemic even for non refundable tickets.  They are getting our taxpayer dollars if they do get assistance and are also holding our money hostage.  I understand non refundable tickets are less expensive and we get credit for a year, or more with this adjustment, but this is an exceptional situation that should certainly warrant refunds.

Active Member

I am getting a full refund on my hotel portion of $633.08 from Apple Leisure Group. If you booked a package with hotel off SW website.

 

You are correct, Southwest Airlines is only giving travel funds for flight only - which agreed,  should be fully refunded, but the hotel portion if booked through their southwest vacations website is refunded in full by Apple Leisure Group who is the third party hotel site they use (they do not tell you this when you book off southwest.com) ALG will refund you if you put that request in.

 

New Arrival

Dear SWA,

We are going through some crazy, unprecedented times. I travel quite extensively for work. I had purchased weekly trips until August 2020. Now, b/c of COVID, I have had to cancel all my March, April, and most likely May and June travel. I will have nearly $7000 in travel funds. I will not be able to use most of these travel funds by the expiration date (Jan 2020). This has caused a lot of anxiety on my end. I would like SWA to consider a blanket policy of extending travel funds expiration to March 2022, which is two years from the time that the COVID travel restrictions began. For people like me, who are loyal SWA customers and have invested nearly thousands of dollars over the years, this policy (of extending travel fund expiration to March 2022) will allow me (and others like me) to rest assured that I will be able to use my travel funds before the expiration. Furthermore, this will unburden your call center agents from receiving unnecessary calls from panicked customers like myself, and free them to take more pressing phone calls.  

 

This is a great opportunity for SWA to take the lead in demonstrating true customer service in the unprecedented times and provide an incentive for continued loyalty for their now grounded traveling customers.

 

Thank you.

New Arrival

I have travel funds expiring in June which were supposed to be used to go to Hawaii in May.  With the current covid situation this trip has been cancelled and I cannot use them before this date.  According to your new policy I will loose these funds.  Why are we supposed to do now?

New Arrival

Please advise. If I have travel funds expiring in June.  Do I have to travel by the expiration date or just use them to pay for a flight at a later date before they expire?

Active Member

Suggest to post your comments on all their  social media pages and direct message on Facebook and Instagram. We all need to 

make this public knowledge because so many of us are in same situation.  Sometimes  social media outlets 

gets their attention faster 

New Arrival

Had to cancel my flight because of COVID-19. Seeing grandparents who are 90+ years old. Now having to reschedule for trip the same time next (April 2021). Travel funds given for refund, but my early bird check in has not been refunded. I have spent hours trying to get the early bird check in fees refunded. SWA is way behind their competition on taking care of their customers in regards to what is being done due to COVID-19 and refunds. I expect to be made whole, not be out $120 in fees and hours of my time. I've been a Rapid Rewards member for 18 years, so pretty disappointed with Southwest now.

New Arrival

I see from reading other comments that I'm not alone in hoping SWA will EXTEND 'existing credit' that is expiring this summer (not just for 'new credit' since March). 

 

I did have reservations booked on SWA to use up my credit. Those flights were scheduled for April 2020 - cancelled those flights being paid for with credit due to COVID-19. 

 

Seems to me that I TRIED to use the credit up before the July 2020 expiration date, but couldn't, and probably won't get to before now-and-then. Hoping SWA will announce to us soon that they will extend for those of us in this case!

 

My daughter is leaving for her freshman year in college in August 2020 and, IF SWA were to extend expiration dates and IF there is even school in August (OMG), we could use the credit up then. So, for me, even a one month extension would help me. But, I certainly agree with others that a longer extension for those in our case seems fair under the circumstances. 

 

SWA, please consider an extension for 'existing credit' prior to March 2020 with expiration dates coming up this summer. 

 

Thanks.

 

 

New Arrival

For the working family, extending it for just one year doesn't do a lot of good. Plans need to be made well in advance, plus school commitments. Why not follow the lead of DELTA who extended the use of funds until May 2022!!!! You are supposed to be about the customer, but Delta took the customer side here. What about you?

New Arrival

How do I get my early bird payment returned?

New Arrival

When will our records reflect the travel funds extension? It would be nice to see it in writing on our accounts. Also please consider extending all funds until June 2020 at the least. Thank you SW

New Arrival

I am grateful for the extension but unfortunately My next opportunity to go on a trip (my cruse was canceled by Carnival Cruse Lines will be in Aug 2021. Is there any possibility to be able to  schedule in june 2021 or before for that trip?

Active Member

I think they need to follow  suit with Delta to extend to 2022

New Arrival

This blog topic regarding travel credits has been superseded by the news yesterday that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has ordered that all airlines must fully REFUND airfare to passengers whose flights have been canceled (or significantly modified without the passenger's consent) during the outbreak of Covid-19. Here is the text of the Bloomberg story on this topic, which was published online yesterday, Friday, April 3, 2020: 

 

Airlines must fully refund airfare to passengers whose flights have been canceled during the outbreak of Covid-19, the U.S. Transportation Department ordered on Friday. 

 

It is receiving a growing number of complaints from people who say airlines have refused to pay refunds after flights were canceled, the agency said in a press release and an enforcement notice.

 

“The obligation of airlines to provide refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for services a passenger is unable to use, does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control,” the agency said. 

 

The directive applies to domestic and foreign airlines for flights to, within, or from the U.S. People are also protected when an airline “makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier,” according to the department.

 

The European Union on Wednesday issued a similar statement, saying EU law requires reimbursements to be made within seven days.

 

“Airlines must refund canceled flight tickets,” EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said in an emailed statement. “They can of course also offer a voucher but -- and this is very important -- only if the customer agrees to accept this.”

 

The U.S. order threatens to add more financial strain to an industry that is facing severe challenges from a dramatic plunge in demand even as it prepares to start receiving $50 billion in loans and payroll assistance payments contained in a government bailout package.

 

As of Thursday, passenger traffic had fallen about 95% compared with a year ago, according to the Transportation Security Administration. Only 124,021 passed through security that day compared with 2.4 million on the equivalent weekday in 2019.

 

In response, airlines have canceled thousands of flights a day and cuts are expected to remain for weeks or longer. Many carriers are applying for federal aid as demand evaporates.

 

The Transportation Department’s action came after a group of consumer advocates contacted the agency and asked it to intervene, said Charlie Leocha, president of Travelers United.

 

U.S. regulations are very clear that when an airline acts to cancel or delay a flight on its own -- as opposed to when flights are delayed by weather -- the carrier is responsible for repaying passengers, Leocha said. Most travelers don’t know their rights, however, he said. 

 

“They are taking advantage of the fact that 87% of the passengers only fly once a year and they just don’t know all the minutia of the rules and regulations,” Leocha said.

 

United Airlines Holding Inc. is one of the carriers that accounted for some complaints received by Travelers United, Leocha said.

 

In an emailed statement, United said eligible passengers can request a refund on its website or by phone. The company has taken numerous steps to be flexible for passengers during the crisis, such as by waiving change fees, it said.

 

“We are proud of the role our company and our employees play during this crisis and continue to operate to nearly every domestic destination as well as six international markets across the globe including our partner hubs,” the company said.

 

In both the U.S. and Europe, the rules are different for people who opt to cancel travel themselves. In those cases, airlines may offer vouchers, but are under no obligation to refund the cost of the ticket.

 

In the U.S., passengers have been told by airlines they would only receive vouchers or credits for future travel, the DOT said in the release.

 

The rules requiring refunds have been in place for decades, according to DOT. They have been enforced after previous disruptions to the aviation system, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the agency said. 

 

The trade group for major carriers, Airlines for America, issued a statement Friday saying its members are working closely with the government and Congress during the virus emergency.

 

“Since the early stages of the crisis, carriers have worked to increase communications with customers, as well as introducing travel policies to accommodate passengers during this health crisis,” the group said in a statement.

 

The trade group didn’t directly address the extent to which U.S. airlines have been unwilling to make refunds or whether any carriers are changing their policies.

 

Initially, the government is giving airlines the opportunity to comply with the law on their own, the Transportation Department said. “However, the Aviation Enforcement Office will monitor airlines’ refund policies and practices and take enforcement action as necessary,” it said.

 

                                                         ###

 

If you do not receive a FULL REFUND of airfare for flights that have been canceled (or significantly modified without your consent) during the outbreak of Covid-19, you can file a complaint at the DOT website:

 

https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm

Active Member

Thanks for the update but Southwest Airlines  is not even extending all expiration dates of travel funds if I make self canceled our flights because we’re afraid to fly to due to Covid19 and husbands health issues 

It’s not fair that SW had definitely ignored all our concerns and complaints 

they've lost many customers from this! 

Top Contributor

Everyone posting responses to this blog looking for suggestions on action to take - it would be easier for other community users to respond directly to your questions if you post them as new topics in the discussion boards, as well as search to see if your issue has already been addressed.

Responses to the blog don’t allow quote of the issue description or direct response tagging your username.

 

 

New Arrival

thank you so much for this extension for your customers.

Mine expire on July 1,2020 so I hope SW will continue to update this policy.

You can be assured we will all take to the air when we can safely do so

New Arrival

I have southwest flight e-pass to expire 5/21/2020. As of now i have not booked travel hoping for the coronavirus to clear. Will my e-pass be extended for another year? set to expire 5/21/2021. Thank You!

New Arrival

While I appreciate the extension, I stand to lose $150 for prepaid early bird fees when I cancel my reservations for travel next week.  I understand the usual policy, but I believe we should be refunded the early bird fees during this crisis too.  I don't understand why Southwest has not already agreed to refund the Early Bird fees for canceled flights.  What justification would you offer for retaining my early bird fees? 

New Arrival

I just cancelled my flight for June when I look in my travel credits it says they expire on 12/28/2020 I thought they were extended until June 30 2021??

New Arrival

How much longer before tech team changes the status?  Just tried to book an October flight with a rejection  that said ticket expires May 12, 2020.  Not complaining just wondering.  Love Southwest. 

New Arrival

On Monday (4/6) I talked directly with Customer Service in Dallas. Per SW, no one to date has had their travel credits extended. NOONE. I was told they are still having IT issues and to give it two more weeks. I asked them to issue a statement to that effect so that those of us who are waiting and checking our Travel Funds daily would not continue to worry about this. I also asked them to consider that the public may be skeptical that an enterprise as big as SW has not been able to pull in IT experts capable of fixing this “glitch” as they call it. On a positive note, I received a refund to override credits given last week when I had to cancel inter island travel in Hawaii. They refused to give me a refund for the flight to HI that I cancelled because Hawaii is quarantining ALL travelers for two weeks upon arrival and has closed down virtually everything. Their reason: that flight still has not been cancelled by them (SW). We know that some  domestic flights are still flying primarily to deliver supplies, not necessarily passengers. Also, this time I was given a reference number for the call, documenting that I had been told I would receive an extension until June 30, 2021. That is new.

New Arrival

Would like to see an update on policies around extending A status and companion pass status! Have already received such updates from United and others, but would love to stay loyal to Southwest once the dust settles and we return to some level of normalcy.🙂

New Arrival

NOT good enough!  Southwest is receiving federal funds or "bailout" funds.  With almost $3,000 in flight credits due to COVID, I am MOST unhappy that Southwest is refusing to refund my money.  Unless they change their position on this and provide refunds, Southwest will NO LONGER be my preferred carrier.

New Arrival

Hopefully, SW travel flights paid for with unexpired travel funds from anytime......would have a reasonable extended expiration date at least to the end of 2020.. In this national emergency, we your customers, have had to cancel travel that under normal conditions we would not have to cancel.

I have travel funds that will in expire in July and and a bit in August. I bought a ticket with them for travel in March 2020......and then had to cancel that flight and move it to April 2020. I have to cancel that one as well...and no telling when I will be able to use those funds before July.  My state as well as others have extended their stay at home orders and recommendations well into mid May. My wife and I are trying to comply and stay healthy and help others stay healthy.

The SW June 30th date seems not to consider ALL the SW customers and members whose paid travel and other aspects of their lives have been upended for the past few months.

Please give us more time.

Thanks so much for listening. 

rjb 

Active Member

They need to push it out to 2022! 
The hotel 3rd party company Southwest Airlines uses , Apple Leisure Group  offered  2 choices!
1. 25% dollars to your travel credit account  plys extending expiration to 2022 if you chose to take it in travel funds

2. Or a choice for full refund

now that’s how to do it!!! 

New Arrival

Thank you so much!! This is why I only fly Southwest.  I was just getting ready to call about my travel funds which expire on April 16th.  Saved me a phone call.  You guys are the greatest!! 

New Arrival

My travel funds expire July 2020. What went into the decision to extend it for only vouchers expiring June 30, 2020

New Arrival

"Full refunds, less any applicable penalties and scheduled air value…” 

 

And there is only one of the rubs.

New Arrival

How about extending this for all who purchased tickets this year?  The virus started in January and we had no idea this would occur.  For those who bought tickets in Jan/Feb for vacation plans in the summer we're out of luck.  Each month the virus is around we lose another month to travel. 

 

Let's be fair and extend this to EVERYONE that purchased tickets this year including non rapid rewards.  Otherwise, it appears that Southwest is pocketing money that was never earned and impossible to redeem due to the current situation.  

 

Let's make that announcement Mr. Kelly.  Thanks.

 

 

New Arrival

Totally agree with Odetymes! Unfortunately, it appears as though Mr. Kelly and the leadership at SW think that they have been very generous with their revisions to date. It is imperative that those of us who have not had our situations addressed adequately continue to be outspoken and in constant communication with SW to get our needs and situations resolved and the result be a fair outcome for all Southwest customers.

Active Member

Correct ! Post on social media complaints 

and file complaint with DOT! 

https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm

New Arrival

Done!  Thanks for the suggestion.

New Arrival

Additional... I filed a complaint with my Credit Card company. This will force Southwest to deal with my complaint. 

Active Member

I had filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation as noted in many of my comments. I received and email from DOT stating they have forwarded my complaint to SW .

On Monday Southwest Airlines emailed me and informed  me they have extended all my flight travel funds expiration date  to September 7, 2022for both my husband and I.

They have made it a point to note they went into my account and made sure it was  adjusted. Make sure you give the exact information on Rapid Rewards # and flight numbers when filing complaint. 

 

Yes,  both our accounts have been adjusted to reflect  the 2022 expiration date.

Finally!

New Arrival

Please give more time for travel funds. We are forced to stay locked down and no way can fly by September -- We are over 70. I feel robbed off by the government and Southwest. Please reconsider.

Active Member

@dannyblue5 

you can file a complaint with DOT and it usually helps

go to https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm

more complaining on social media and any organization like BBB.org it can help

they extended my travel funds to 2022 and should do same for everyone. 

New Arrival

1 month extension for me or did you mean 2022😉

New Arrival

Most questions are answered on this page. https://www.southwest.com/Coronavirus/?clk=QHEADER The policies don't help everyone. On advice from other members, I will file a complaint with the DOT via the link farther up. I want a refund of my travel funds, even though the expiration has been extended to September 2022, and I want a refund of my EarlyBird Check-in service fee. As a senior, I can't ignore the possibility that I might not live long enough to use my travel funds. If I convert them to points, and I don't know the algorithm for value, I can apply them toward flights for me AND my husband. If I croak, my account remains active for two years and anyone I give my login to can use the points (instead of paying SW to have the points transferred to their account). But for the time being, I would much prefer having a refund - no one has a crystal ball revealing when it will be safe to fly - and I will fly Southwest again for sure.