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Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

New Arrival

I've found other threads on a "similar" issue - but this one is different.  I cancelled my (Mid-June) reservation (2 travelling) yesterday - after we determined that our FL Beach plans were not feasible this year - due to the Coronavirus.  (I've always been a proud SWA customer - and proudly use the SWA branded Visa card.)  I thought the best thing to do was to cancel my reservation - to give SWA a break - where they would "not" be working to find another flight for me if/when my flight was cancelled.  (Why sit on a flight reservation you know you won't use - that makes more work for everyone.)  As soon as I cancelled - I got my points back and my taxes and fees.  After I noticed that I did "not" get a refund on my Early Bird Check-In fees - I called SWA today.  Their representative said those fees ($25 x 4 = $100) are non-refundable.  I've since learned (the hard way) that if I had sat on my reservation up until 10 mins before my flight (clogging up their reservation system) and if SWA cancelled my flight - I would get a $100 refund.  I plan to contact my Congressman and Senators - to make them aware of this.  At the same time SWA is lobbying for a huge bailout payout from the taxpayers - they are treating their customers (the taxpayers) like this.  PS - I really did not want or expect a "cash" refund.  I simply wanted a credit I could use next summer.  In retrospect - it would be much smarter - to ask (demand) a "cash" refund.  (Even though cash is the last thing they want to give back.)  If anyone knows a way around this issue - please let me know.  Thanks!!

6 REPLIES 6
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Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

Top Contributor
Solution

Southwest has recently started offering a LUV voucher in the amount of the EarlyBird Check-in charge on cancelled reservations.  In other words, they are doing exactly what you are asking for.  Call, initiate a live chat in the Southwest app, or send a private message on Twitter (@SouthwestAir) and request the credit.  You may be offered Rapid Rewards points, but you can request the LUV voucher instead.  Your comment about no-showing for the flight is incorrect, this would not result in an automatic refund of EarlyBird Check-In which is typically non-refundable.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

Top Contributor
Solution

@StLzooSWA wrote:

I've found other threads on a "similar" issue - but this one is different.  I cancelled my (Mid-June) reservation (2 travelling) yesterday - after we determined that our FL Beach plans were not feasible this year - due to the Coronavirus.  (I've always been a proud SWA customer - and proudly use the SWA branded Visa card.)  I thought the best thing to do was to cancel my reservation - to give SWA a break - where they would "not" be working to find another flight for me if/when my flight was cancelled.  (Why sit on a flight reservation you know you won't use - that makes more work for everyone.)  As soon as I cancelled - I got my points back and my taxes and fees.  After I noticed that I did "not" get a refund on my Early Bird Check-In fees - I called SWA today.  Their representative said those fees ($25 x 4 = $100) are non-refundable.  I've since learned (the hard way) that if I had sat on my reservation up until 10 mins before my flight (clogging up their reservation system) and if SWA cancelled my flight - I would get a $100 refund.  I plan to contact my Congressman and Senators - to make them aware of this.  At the same time SWA is lobbying for a huge bailout payout from the taxpayers - they are treating their customers (the taxpayers) like this.  PS - I really did not want or expect a "cash" refund.  I simply wanted a credit I could use next summer.  In retrospect - it would be much smarter - to ask (demand) a "cash" refund.  (Even though cash is the last thing they want to give back.)  If anyone knows a way around this issue - please let me know.  Thanks!!


 

Unfortunately, that's mostly correct.

As you said, if you cancel your flight you'll receive a refund of your Rapid Rewards points (if you used points for the booking), or you'll receive Travel Funds for the airfare portion (if you booked with $). Note that the travel funds will have an extended expiration date of June 30, 2021, per a temporary accommodation Southwest is making as an exception, due to the crisis.

 

However, if Southwest cancels the flight (or rebooks you on a flight that you no longer need) you are entitled to a full refund -- including EarlyBird Check-In fees. It may appear in communications you receive and information on the Southwest website that travel funds are the only option, but that's not true. If needed you can insist on a full refund. If you're denied, cite the DOT enforcement order if necessary, and consider filing a DOT Consumer Complaint.

 

As you've learned, there is sadly no real benefit to proactively cancelling your reservation. Remember, you can cancel as late at 10 minutes prior to departure. (I wouldn't wait that late myself, I'd check the night before the flight and cancel then if Southwest hasn't canceled the flight.) If you desire a refund, it's best to wait and see if Southwest cancels.

 

Southwest is offering some relief for affected customers.

In addition to the extended expiration date of June 30, 2021 on travel funds created March 1 - June 30, 2020, Southwest is now also extending "exception" accommodations to anyone who canceled their flight and also had purchased EarlyBird Check-In, which is normally non-refundable when the customer cancels their flight.

 

Reach out to Customer Relations via Twitter or Facebook private message (don't call the regular reservations number or use the chat function in the app) and request a voucher for the amount of your EBCI fee. These vouchers will be valid for a year from date of issue, and are usable by anyone -- unlike travel funds which are limited to the original passenger(s). Vouchers aren't valid for taxes or fees though -- including EBCI, ironically -- but they can be used to reduce the cost of future travel. Note that you may be initially offered a small amount of Rapid Rewards points instead of the voucher for the full amount you paid. If you'd prefer the voucher, insist on the voucher.

 

One last thought:

You may consider this a "cash grab" by Southwest, and I suppose technically it is. But keep in mind that if Southwest issued full refunds for the many millions of dollars of customer money they currently hold they would likely be out of business quickly.

 

This isn't an overstatement.

 

Holding on to as much cash as they can -- combined with huge loans and likely bailout grants -- will be necessary for their survival through this crisis. And don't think that I'm not aware that this applies to customers too. Which is why I think it's of utmost importance that customers are aware of all their options right now. Hopefully they'll be exercised as appropriate. When I'm ready to fly again, I certainly hope Southwest will still be there, providing the great service for which I've always loved them.

 

 

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Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

New Arrival

Sincere Thanks to all who helped with their (expert) advice.  Especially chgoflyer who provided very specific wisdom, instructions and advice.  I followed your advice on reaching out to SWA via Facebook - and the rep I worked with was extremely helpful - and we were able to quickly reach agreement on a solution that was (not perfect but) fair to SWA and fair to me.  Note To Self - I will "never" cancel a reservation this far in advance again.  No I know better!  Thanks again to all!  🙂

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Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

Employee
Employee

@StLzooSWA wrote:

Sincere Thanks to all who helped with their (expert) advice.  Especially chgoflyer who provided very specific wisdom, instructions and advice.  I followed your advice on reaching out to SWA via Facebook - and the rep I worked with was extremely helpful - and we were able to quickly reach agreement on a solution that was (not perfect but) fair to SWA and fair to me.  Note To Self - I will "never" cancel a reservation this far in advance again.  No I know better!  Thanks again to all!  🙂


@chgoflyer 🙂 

Nicole
Community Manager

Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

New Arrival

This was my situation exactly.  Back in early February, I booked a flight for Dallas for my husband and I for mid-May.  As we are in our 60's, we decided not to make the trip even if the travel ban is lifted.  I cancelled the flight the other day and my points were immediately put back into my account.  I had also paid the $80 early check-in and 9-11 fees on my Southwest Visa.  I haven't even gotten the 9-11 fees back as of yet.  I had never paid extra for early check-in before so I didn't realize they would not be refunded if I cancelled.  That's something I will never lay out money for again if I do fly Southwest when things get back to normal.  And now, hundreds of their employees have tested positive for COVID 19.  Yeah, I won't be flying Southwest any time soon.

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Re: Early Bird Refund Denied - Cash Grab By SWA

Top Contributor

@KYTransplant As explained above and in replies to your other posts, EarlyBird refunds are now being issued as LUV Vouchers and all other fees and taxes are refunded to original form of payment for anyone who purchased a ticket with Rapid Rewards points.

 

--TheMiddleSeat