Skip to main content

Southwest Airlines Community

Travel Funds expiration

ArkW115
New Arrival

In August 2021 I made a reservation for December 2021, using around $80 in travel funds from a trip that had been purchased in May, but canceled. The balance, around $418, was purchased new on a credit card. We had to cancel that trip and now it’s saying that ALL $500 expires this May. This hardly seems fair or right, lumping all of the funds together, resulting in less than a year to use the bulk of the travel funds. To add insult to injury, we actually did end up taking the trip we had originally booked in May, but had to change the dates by one week and so I canceled and re-booked it. This coming after we had to essentially forfeit a Companion Pass that we achieved in March 2020 (the only people who did not benefit from the covid extensions were those who earned the pass in the first quarter of 2020). Obviously if they can’t make this right then Southwest has lost a family of very avid customers, but do I have any options to re-coup my $500, or at the very least $418?

9 REPLIES 9

Re: Travel Funds expiration

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

Here's the policy that applies in your situation:

https://www.southwest.com/help/changes-and-cancellations/travel-funds

Think of a travel fund like a store credit that expires. The expiration date depends on the payment you used to book the original ticket. Note that all travel must be booked and completed by the travel fund’s expiration date.

  • Booked with a credit card or gift card:
    The travel fund will expire 12 months from the date you booked the ticket.
  • Booked with a Southwest LUV Voucher:
    The travel fund will adopt the expiration date of the voucher used to book the ticket.
  • Booked with travel funds:
    The travel fund will keep the expiration date of the original travel fund used to book the ticket. For example, on March 1, you use a travel fund that expires May 20 to book a ticket. Later, you cancel that ticket. The expiration date for these funds is still May 20.

If you book with a combination of these payments, the travel fund adopts the expiration date of the fund that expires soonest.

 

 

It's been compared to mixing milk and chocolate syrup, once you mix old and new money you can't unmix them.

After travel funds expire you can request they be converted to LUV Vouchers.  You have 6 months to request this and the resulting voucher is good for 6 months.  To complete this process each travel fund converted is reduced in value by $100.  Use the contact us link below and send a message to request this.  Include the confirmation number and passenger name(s) associated with each expired travel fund.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Travel Funds expiration

ArkW115
New Arrival

I have never heard of a store where you purchase something for $100, use up an old $2 credit and then pay $98 in cash, and then the return window is determined by the item you had the $2 leftover from. This trip was booked 90% with a credit card, yet because I used a bit of leftover travel funds, that voids the 12 month expiration date of the credit card purchase. This may be their policy but there’s a reason no store has ever actually adopted “store credit that expires” in this fashion. This is clearly a money grab since they have the technology to distinguish different methods of payment for different purchases. Obviously had I known this I would never have mixed travel funds and new purchases, and going forward I’ll be bringing my new purchases elsewhere. I appreciate your confirmation of this policy and hopefully it will deter others from making purchases on Southwest, mistakenly believing their cancellation and refund policies are above industry standard. On the bright side, now that I know the truth, I’ll no longer be paying higher fares for Southwest in order to benefit from this (in)convenience.

Re: Travel Funds expiration

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

I wouldn't be so certain they do have the technology to handle this correctly.  When dealing with any business it's good to know what their refund policies are ahead of time, sorry you learned the hard way.  Now that other airlines have adjusted or eliminated their change fees Southwest may be behind in some aspects such as this particular detail.  You're welcome to share your thoughts directly with them, use the contact us link at the bottom of the page and send a message.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Travel Funds expiration

ArkW115
New Arrival

Mmm that’s a little bit like saying that the Squid Game contestants are at fault because they should have known the policies. Sure, they should have, but that doesn’t absolve the overseers from guilt, in fact they were the most culpable for creating such predatory policies. I would never have even canceled the May ticket purchase as all I was doing was changing my reservation dates by one week, not canceling the trip, but as an online user Southwest makes it easier to just cancel and re-book in order to make a change, resulting in those travel funds. I would have applied the travel funds to the rebooking right then and there but there is a lag and I didn’t want to lose the seats. I also purchase many tickets a year for several people and it’s not easy to keep all of the reservation changes and travel funds straight. Honestly it could be a lot more than the $500, and this is just the first time I’ve caught it. Which ultimately makes the severing of my loyalty easy, as I’ll make back that loss within one or two trips on another airline, where I’ll also get to enjoy a personal tv and free WiFi for my whole family, along with shedding the pre-flight anxiety of being seated separately from my 7yo, stressing over who would assist her in case of emergency. Southwest has made it clear that they would prefer to take this $500 at the expense of many thousands of future dollars from me, and now that they’ve lost their one and only advantage I was willing to pay a premium for, I think anyone in my position would decide to level up with a different airline.

Re: Travel Funds expiration

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

I did tell you how too get most of your money back, perhaps you missed that part? You certainly have choices and are welcome to make them.

 

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Travel Funds expiration

ArkW115
New Arrival

60% of my money back in the form of a voucher with even more limitations and restrictions is not good enough. Many changes I’ve had to make were due to Covid-related issues and subsequent logistical problems, so a loss of 40% of the value for even less flexibility is not a great option in these times. Yes, fortunately I live in an area where I have many choices of airlines and lucky for me, they actually want my business! 

Re: Travel Funds expiration

TheMiddleSeat
Top Contributor

Images courtesy of a previous post by @chgoflyer

Southwest warns you before purchasing. Based on your other commentary it sounds like you never wanted to fly Southwest anyway. I hope your future travels go well. 

 

Southwest funds.jpg

Southwest funds-app.jpg

--TheMiddleSeat

Re: Travel Funds expiration

dfwskier
Top Contributor

@ArkW115 wrote:

 . Yes, fortunately I live in an area where I have many choices of airlines and lucky for me, they actually want my business! 


The other airlines will treat you the same or worse than Southwest does, but i guess you'll figure that out when you fly the other guys.

 

Ya know rules are rules. Pay attention to them.

 

Are you going to get a speeding ticket going 60 in a 25 zone when you tell the cop "but I didn't know the speed limit is 25?"  No difference

Re: Travel Funds expiration

jksobonya
Rising Star

@TheMiddleSeat wrote:

I wouldn't be so certain they do have the technology to handle this correctly. 


Agreed - pre-COVID at least, Southwest was the *only* airline that offered anything like travel funds/credit when you changed or cancelled a flight. Other airlines charged you outrageous fees to make a change or cancellation so this is not a thing that they would typically do, while Southwest never charged those fees, so having travel funds is much more common. They are in a league of their own when it comes to travel funds, so it makes sense at least to me to adopt the travel fund expiration when you apply that fund to a new reservation. 

 

However - it's not out of the question that they can change this behavior in the future, for example funds could be valid for one year from the date of booking regardless of what travel funds you may apply to pay the fare.  Maybe they will find a way to do that. 

 

--Jessica