Southwest flight credits will no longer expire

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In an awesome surprise move, Southwest Airlines announced today that flight credits will no longer expire. That’s great news if you’ve been sitting on Southwest flight credits or might make some cancellations. While your money will be locked up with Southwest, you won’t be locked into using it within a specific period of time.

One Mile at a Time reported this morning that Southwest is currently adjusting the expiration date of travel funds to December 31, 2040, but that’s a temporary fix as they work on the technology solution to eliminate the expiration date entirely at some point in the future.

The change in policy affects all flight credits unexpired as of 7/28/22 and those newly created after today

This is great news for consumers. Whereas most of us have gotten used to the concept of giving money to an airline with the knowledge that if we don’t use it within a year it is theirs to keep, I am glad to see Southwest changing the game on that. I don’t expect that other airlines will follow suit exactly, but if this even pressures them to extend travel funds for longer, that will be an even greater win for consumers. This is certainly an interesting development given that Southwest’s long-time competitive advantage was its lack of change fees — an advantage that got eroded as other airlines also eliminated change fees in many instances during the pandemic.

Those with airline incidental fee credits will find this to be great news since cheap airfare has been known to trigger credits with some airlines. This will essentially create a way to potentially turn airline fee credits into airline credits that won’t expire. That would be awesome.

It’s also great news for many of us who had travel plans last year that didn’t pan out. I wrote just last month about my frustrations with Southwest’s travel funds expiration policy (though readers shared a cool trick to get around it and Southwest later offered to extend travel credits through the end of this year). It’s great to now see expiration eliminated entirely. Kudos to Southwest for being incredibly customer-friendly with this change.

As a reminder for those unfamiliar with Southwest, flights can be cancelled any time up until about 10 minutes prior to departure. Previously, flights booked with cash would turn into a flight credit valid for one year from the date the flight was ticketed — and if you later combined that flight credit with another flight credit, both credits would inherit the sooner expiration date between the two. By contrast, flights booked with Rapid Rewards points and later cancelled receive a refund of the points, which go immediately back into the account and do not expire. With this change, you’ll be able to book a cash fare now — and if plans change before departure, you could cancel for a credit that doesn’t expire, just like when you use Rapid Rewards points. My preference had long been to use points rather than cash to book Southwest flights, but this development might make me more likely to want to use cash since I know the funds will not expire even if plans change (which enables me to keep transferable points flexible rather than moving them to Southwest).

Overall, this is great news.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

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Susan4

Equally good news is a travel funds tab tied to ff#. No need to keep track of cancelled reservation confirmation codes.

jeph36

After learning of this change, I swapped my Amex Biz Plat airline to Southwest from United. The 5-yr limit on the United TravelBank is not likely to cause me grief, but unlimited is always better. Pre-COVID I was always able to use up any flight credits within the year with just a little planning, but this makes it immensely easier to avoid wasting them.

This change also makes me more apt to do some speculative bookings on Southwest, particularly while I sit here with a $500 GC from <I forget why I bought it>. Now that the flight credits are roughly as good as GCs, I have no incentive to keep that locked into a GC instead of going ahead and booking now. For example, I will be flying to Vegas in January, but not sure the exact date of the outbound. I could book both possibilities now using that GC and not lose any flexibility when I eventually cancel one of them.

Cavedweller

United points good forever if there’s movement in the points account Correct ??

jeph36

Yeah, but I was not talking about points expiring. I was talking about funds put into the United TravelBank, which is like “pre-loading” cash for future United flights. Those expire after 5 years from purchase, with no way to extend them. It is like a gift certificate that has a guaranteed expiration.

Cavedweller

Thank You !! I don’t do that just points..

chris

very nice change

Brian

Fantastic! Great job, Southwest!

donasaur

Do people’s LUV vouchers still show an expiration date, or do these never expire as well?

Cavedweller

I Lost at Lot like 14 years ago. I needed to Book 4 trips to get medical not 2 as in Had to get there. Got burned if u used an old TC of $10 on a new trip it’s the old $10 expiration Date . It should’ve been u lose $10 not the whole ticket..

Last edited 13 days ago by Cavedweller
WhereTo2Next

My Southwest flight credit already says no expiration.

anonymous

Very good change. It’s baffling to me how airlines can collect your money and not give it back, even if you cancel way in advance (but after the initial 24 hours).
……
RE the airline fee reimbursements, it’ll be interesting to see if card issuers now try harder to scrutinize and disallow what was working before. (AmEx, especially.)

Mason

I’m going to rebuttal this one, why should you block a seat from a business to sell, all the way up until 11 minutes before departure, then cancel and expect do have a credit to do this again and again. It’s a FOR PROFIT business, not a charity. I think a reasonable expiration date is acceptable. Maybe just extend it to 24 months.
IF you buy a ticket to a concert and don’t show up, you expect to get your money back. I don’t think so.

Last edited 12 days ago by Mason
anonymous

You seem to have missed:
“…even if you cancel way in advance…”

jonathan

Thats awesome news.. I had about $200 that I needed to use before sept.