Southwest has once again listened to their customers! Yea! They are the best :).
The airline has reversed its policy on “no refunds” for EarlyBird fees that passengers have purchased, which enable you to “check in” ahead of the general public (to give you an earlier boarding order and thus earlier chance at picking your seat) for flights through May 31.
Southwest will now offer a LUV voucher for your EarlyBird fees good for one year on future airfare purchases if YOU cancel a flight scheduled through May 31. This applies to both new cancellations and previous cancellations as far back as March 1.
Unlike Southwest travel funds, the LUV voucher will NOT be tied to one specific person, which is good. A Southwest spokesperson said the voucher will be issued to the purchaser, but can be used to purchase fares for others in the future.
But, you can’t use LUV vouchers to book EarlyBird seating. You can only use LUV vouchers to book future flights. Read more about the terms for Southwest LUV vouchers here.
At least one Go to Travel Gal reader is reporting that Southwest did offer her a voucher for the amount, but also offered her points instead. The points they offered her have a MUCH lower value than the voucher; however, the upside is that Southwest points never expire.
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What If Southwest Cancels Your Flight?
The Southwest spokesperson confirmed with me by email that ALL fares and fees associated with a flight that Southwest cancels WILL/CAN be refunded to your original method of payment.
Here’s exactly what he said, “If Southwest cancels a flight, all funds are refunded to the original form of payment – including EarlyBird.”
According to Go to Travel Gal readers and those in our Southwest Facebook Group, the airline also has NOT been refunding EarlyBird when they cancel your flight, and you also have to ASK them for a refund to begin with.
They are first offering to re-book your flight and then offering a Southwest travel fund good through June 30, 2021. Though if you think you will travel before then, it would be nice if you would take the travel fund instead to allow them to keep the cash in this turbulent time. But you DO have the right to a refund if you need it.
According to passengers’ rights to refunds for flight cancellations on the US Department of Transportation website, if an airline cancels your flight, you have the right to a full refund (and I take refund to mean returning to your original payment method, NOT a travel credit unless that’s how you paid at the outset) of BOTH the fare AND any ancillary fees like EarlyBird.
So what the Southwest spokesperson is now saying IS inline with what the DOT guidelines say.
You can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation here if they do not give you a refund for all fees, and perhaps let them know you are planning to do so first to see if that helps encourage them to give you your refund.
How to Get Your EarlyBird Credit
This offer is good for all canceled flights March 1 through May 31. So if Southwest previously told you that you could NOT get an EarlyBird refund, you can now reach out to them by phone, Live Chat or email, to request a credit.
Go to Travel Gal readers are already having success :).
We’ll keep you updated as more details emerge.
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