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Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

New Arrival

I usually find Southwest policies very reasonable, which is why I book them.  However, I had to cancel flights I had for last November 7th, and had only one year to use the funds.   I am not able to fly during Covid.  Now, they are set to expire and Southwest has said they will not extend them!  This is over $600 for two flights, so substantial funds.    There seems to be no recourse here.  Is this really the policy?  Am I missing something?  

44 REPLIES 44
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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

Top Contributor

You had until September 7 to extend travel fund expiration out to September 2022.  It sounds like you did not take advantage of that opportunity so now your travel funds expire one year from original purchase date.  You could contact Customer Relations and ask for an extension, but others have not had much luck since there was plenty of time to get the extension.

 

Contact Customer Relations 

 

--TheMiddleSeat

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

New Arrival

Replying to TheMiddleSeat

 

That is misinformation. I have travel funds that are expiring in December 2020 for flights that were cancelled in February due to the surging pandemic. I have checked the status multiple times throughout the year and the Southwest website has perpetually had those travel funds marked explicitly as ineligible for an expiration date extension. I also have friends who have made multiple attempts to extend expiring unusable travel credits during the time that you are advising people that it could have been done, and all such attempts were refused by Southwest.

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

Top Contributor

@wjcomment wrote:

Replying to TheMiddleSeat

 

That is misinformation. I have travel funds that are expiring in December 2020 for flights that were cancelled in February due to the surging pandemic. I have checked the status multiple times throughout the year and the Southwest website has perpetually had those travel funds marked explicitly as ineligible for an expiration date extension. I also have friends who have made multiple attempts to extend expiring unusable travel credits during the time that you are advising people that it could have been done, and all such attempts were refused by Southwest.


 

Unfortunately, you're correct, in that Southwest would not extend the travel funds of customers with situations like yourself.

 

However, many customers were able to deduce from the published information that there was a work-around. Using funds to book and then cancel a flight during the extension period of March 1, 2020 - September 7, 2020, would generate travel funds with a September 7, 2022 expiration. This was discussed in many threads here, but I'm sorry you were not aware of that.

 

To be clear, I do think it's wrong that Southwest isn't addressing customers such as yourself. The pandemic is far from over.

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

New Arrival

Replying to chgoflyer:

 

Thanks for your reply. I've been flying Southwest for 30 years, some years often enough to qualify for A-List, and I have been particularly disappointed in their take-the-customers'-money-and-run response to the pandemic. Within the U.S., the fatality rate for those with COVID-19 has averaged 4%, or 1 in 25. Southwest is insisting that I either gamble with my life by flying during a deadly pandemic, or else they will just keep my money.

I haven't even been seeking a refund, though that would be nice. Someone at Southwest decided, during a deadly global pandemic, to keep their customers' money and provide nothing of value in return. It is solely their decision to force the travel funds to expire instead of offering to provide the paid-for service at a future date once it is safe to travel. I imagine that it looks good in the ledger when their revenue is tight, but they have revealed a genuine level of contempt for their customers.

 

You are correct that I was unaware that some people had figured out a way to game the system for a few months during the summer to get extensions. I wasn't following the forums then as I was looking for answers and support directly from Southwest.

 

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

Top Contributor

@wjcomment wrote:

Replying to chgoflyer:

 

Thanks for your reply. I've been flying Southwest for 30 years, some years often enough to qualify for A-List, and I have been particularly disappointed in their take-the-customers'-money-and-run response to the pandemic. Within the U.S., the fatality rate for those with COVID-19 has averaged 4%, or 1 in 25. Southwest is insisting that I either gamble with my life by flying during a deadly pandemic, or else they will just keep my money.

I haven't even been seeking a refund, though that would be nice. Someone at Southwest decided, during a deadly global pandemic, to keep their customers' money and provide nothing of value in return. It is solely their decision to force the travel funds to expire instead of offering to provide the paid-for service at a future date once it is safe to travel. I imagine that it looks good in the ledger when their revenue is tight, but they have revealed a genuine level of contempt for their customers.

 

You are correct that I was unaware that some people had figured out a way to game the system for a few months during the summer to get extensions. I wasn't following the forums then as I was looking for answers and support directly from Southwest.

 


 

 

I understand your position, I really do.

 

I would have to say, however, that Southwest has made far more accommodations for their customers in light of the pandemic than any other carrier. And taking advantage of them just required the customer read carefully the information that was emailed and published on the website.

 

The window for funds extension was over 6 months -- from March 1 thru September 7, 2020, and the resulting extension created funds good through September 7, 2022 -- over two additional years. If needed, those funds can even be converted to Rapid Rewards points, which never expire.

 

You mention Southwest's desire to have a "good looking ledger... when revenue is tight." In case you're not aware, Southwest is currently losing $17 million dollars every day, just keeping their operations afloat. Certainly Southwest does realize income through breakage, but consider that this is also a very unique and grave situation, as the company tires to keep it's employees employed, and frankly, it's business from going under. I don't think they're showing contempt for their customers -- the accommodations clearly indicate otherwise -- but rather demonstrating focus on maintaining solvency.

 

None of this helps you now of course, sorry.

 

I am disappointed that Southwest isn't extending further accommodations for customers such as yourself. The pandemic is far from over, and simply pretending that it is, as they seem to be doing, doesn't change that fact.

 

While unlikely, it's possible that Southwest may extend additional accommodations at some point. I'd recommend checking back here frequently, along with making sure you're receiving emails from Southwest (log in and look under My Account > Profile > Communications to check your preferences and email subscriptions).

 

Your other option would be to contact Customer Relations after your funds have expired and request reissue as a voucher. You have 6 months from expiration in which to make the request, and if granted the voucher will be valid (for use by anyone) for 6 months from the date of issue. The fee for this is (currently) $100 per passenger, which is deducted from the travel fund. If you have multiple travel funds, consider combining them to reduce the overall fees. This unwritten "policy" I think shows that Southwest is willing to go the extra mile whenever they can.

 

 

 

 

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

Top Contributor

I agree with chgoflyer. I am sorry that you have ended up in this position. At this point it appears that your best bet is Southwest's unofficial policy that allows passengers to turn expired travel funds into vouchers,

 

You have 6 months after expiration of the travel fund to use this option. It currently costs $100, and it results in the issuance of a voucher that is good for 6 months.

 

Current (US) Covid stats from the CDC

8,028,332 total identified infections

217,918 total deaths

death rate 2.714% (likely far less as many people have not been tested/ identified - many of those infected show no symptoms and are not tested)

 

death is far more likely in those over 70 and/or with serious underlying conditions,

 

Disclosure: I'll be 70 in January and have had 12 flights since May. I follow CDC guidelines and do not feel that travel puts me at undue risk.

 

 

 

 

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

New Arrival

@dfwskier

FYI Your math is both correct and yet, still wrong, because it uses the wrong numbers by including all of the ongoing unresolved cases in the mortality calculation. When you just look at resolved cases (people who either recovered or didn't) the mortality rate is currently 3.8% in the U.S. (it was 4% a month or so ago).

 

You are fortunate that your decision to gamble with your life by flying 12 times during the pandemic hasn't apparently harmed you. A study just came out about a flight to Ireland this summer (obviously not Southwest) that was only 17% full with 49 passengers spread throughout the cabin. It departed with no known cases of COVID-19 and arrived with 13 cases, including passengers who were masked. The 13 who became infected ranged in age from 1 to 65. The infected people who arrived were spread all through the cabin, front to back and on both sides. They then spread the infection to another known 46 people upon landing.

 

Another study in the UK was just released that included 84,000 people who were infected with COVID-19, but recovered. It found extensive ongoing cognitive impairment, lowered IQ, and brains that had prematurely aged as if they were ten years older than they actually are.

 

If you are comfortable continuing to take that gamble, that is your decision and I am not seeking to deprive you of that. I do take issue with Southwest's decision to seize people's travel funds during a pandemic when it is unsafe to use those funds.

 

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

Top Contributor

@wjcomment wrote:

Let me restate the PUBLISHED risk factor numbers:

 

The odds of someone dying from COVID infection due to plane exposure is 1-400,000 to 1-600,000

 

The odds of plane exposure is 1-5000 to 1-7000 - with outcomes from nothing to death and everything in between..

 

My odds of dying in my car are far greater. I wear masks, wash hands, don't touch my face, avoid large groups. I'm not at much of a risk.

 

Lots of people agree with my assessment as over 1,000,000 people flew yesterday.

 

 

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Re: Can't use Travel funds by Expiration due to Covid

New Arrival

I've seen this misinformation on a few different forums written by the same people. If you had TF that were expiring in November 2020 and you used them to rebook a new flight and then had to or chose to cancel them, your expiration date reverts right back to November 2020. What SW was offering with the cancel by Sept 7 and get 2 years extension was for new reservations that were canceled during the 6 month time frame. I tried every trick that was posted on SW Community to get that elusive extension, only to find my TF expiration date revert right back to the original.

I would definitely take the advice of chgoflyer and go the route of the $100.00 fee for a 6 month extension. That's what I did. Good Luck