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Southwest Extends Travel Funds More Than Two Years Until 2022

A lot of you want to know: Will Southwest extend the expiration dates of their travel funds and credits for trips that people were unable to take during the pandemic?

It’s important to many travelers, who have had to change or cancel flights, thus getting refunds in the form of Southwest Unused Travel Funds (read our full guide about these funds) and the deadline of their Southwest travel funds’ expiration is close or already passed.

 

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Because these travelers know they won’t be able to use their funds before the deadline due to the concerns about traveling, most were hoping Southwest would step up and extend the expiration date.

Southwest boarding

Southwest initially extended expiration dates on travel funds that expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020 until May 31 and then later until June 30, 2021.

But in an announcement on April 16, 2020, the airline announced a generous extension in line with other airlines of more than two years! 

Now, funds that are set to expire or that were created between March 1 and September 7, 2020 will now expire on September 7, 2022.

And no, that’s not a typo! NOT 2021, but 2022!!

Southwest Airlines Arizona

Typically, Southwest Travel Funds expire one year from the original booking date.

Please note, however, that this is ONLY for travel funds created between March 1 and September 7, 2020.

All other travel funds are subject to the regular expiration date of 1 year from the original booking date.

If you want to know how to avoid Southwest Travel Funds altogether when paying in cash for a ticket, join my Families Fly Free membership program, where I share with members ALL MY BEST HACKS!

 

The Details of the Southwest Travel Funds Extension

Southwest planes lined up

At the beginning of the pandemic, Southwest service reps were telling people they would not extend their travel funds, much to their disappointment.

In the past, Southwest has usually extended travel funds for up to a year if you asked, but they reduced your credit by $100 to do so.

It seemed this time that wasn’t even an option.

However, the airline announced on their website on the evening of March 19 (and updated it on April 3 and April 16, 2020) that due to customer feedback, they had decided to make an exception.

Way to go, everyone!

Here’s how it works:

  • Southwest Unused Travel Funds that expire between March 1-September 7, 2020, now expire September 7, 2022
  • Travel funds created between March 1-September 7, 2020 due to a flight cancellation will now expire September 7, 2022

But it’s a bit confusing…

 

What Does “Expiring” Mean When It Comes to Travel Funds?

Southwest wings

When they say “expire,” they really mean you have until that date to book a flight with the funds.

If you end up needing to cancel that flight, any resulting funds will expire within one year from the date you purchased the flight with those funds.

So, for example, if you purchase a flight with your NEW fund on August 1, 2021 and then cancel that flight, the newly generated funds will NOW EXPIRE August 1, 2022, one year from that booking date.

If there were any funds that you didn’t use to book that flight on August 1, 2020, they would still be available for booking until the September 7, 2022 date. Make sense?

Full details are on this page.

When will we see these changes?

The new expiration date should already be listed on your Travel Funds page under your My Account section at Southwest.com.

 

What About Flight Cancellations?

Due to the pandemic, Southwest may cancel your flight.

According to the US Department of Transportation, if an airline cancels your flight, they are required to refund even nonrefundable fares back to you in the way you paid for it.

So if you paid with a credit card, you should get that money back on your card if you want it.

Southwest said on this same page that they will OFFER cash refunds for those whose flights are canceled and who don’t want to re-book or use travel funds for future travel and those will not expire (per above) until September 7, 2022.

But they are hoping you’ll take the travel fund instead, so they can keep the cash. And I understand.

They need it right now!

So you will have to ASK for the refund if you want it.

 

Will Southwest Refund EarlyBird Fees?

Southwest Early Bird Refund

Additionally, I confirmed with Southwest that they WILL refund EarlyBird fees for flights that THEY cancel, which is in accordance with DOT guidelines that say ancillary fees should be refunded as well.

Southwest also agreed to offer a LUV voucher (basically a gift certificate) to cover the cost of EarlyBird fees for flights where customers initiate the cancellation.

But they may no longer be offering this, though it’s worth asking!

These are good for 1 year and are issued to the purchaser, but can be used to purchase flights only (not EarlyBird fees) for anyone.

I had great hope that Southwest would do right by their customers, because they are known for their outstanding customer service, which is one of the many reasons I love to fly Southwest.

Way to go, Southwest! 

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32 thoughts on “Southwest Extends Travel Funds More Than Two Years Until 2022”

    • Good question! That’s probably further down the list :). I have heard several readers say even before this that the flight attendants will often take an expired drink coupon, so maybe they will be more lenient with this in the future in light of the circumstances. I’ve never tried it myself though!

      Reply
  1. I was dismayed to find out that if I cancel our mid April flights (funds would go into the SW “bank” for future travel) that the $20 each ($40) we paid for “early bird check-in” is forfeited. The only to keep it is to re-book which is hard to do since they only allow 60 days out with no increase in fares. Have you heard anything about that?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Yes, I know. I am recommending Early Bird less and less due to this policy of “losing” your funds when you cancel.

      You can do a couple of things:
      1) Wait and see if they cancel your flight. If they cancel it, you can request a full refund of Early Bird and the money you paid for the fare. So far, they are cutting nonstops it seems between cities that have connecting flights.
      2) Rebook it to May to “keep” your Early Bird and then try to “rebook” again later on, hoping that the fares will still be low or that they still have this flexible policy in place.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply
    • We booked hotel, flight, and car rental over Spring Break using our Rapid Rewards points. If we would decide to cancel, do you know if we can get our points back for the hotel and car rental? We weren’t sure because we thought that was done using vouchers through a third party. It is our first time using Rapid Rewards points for anything besides Southwest flights. Thanks for your help.

      Reply
    • Hello. I booked a flight for August 22, 2020 With travel funds that expire on Aug 24, 2020. The flight was for a cruise I am cancelling which means I have to cancel this flight. The flight will go back into travel funds that again originally expires on 8/24/20…will that be extended to 2022?

      Reply
  2. We originally booked a flight in November 2019 for a cruise in May 2020. We are canceling our upcoming cruise. Will this extension apply to our tickets? We will gladly take the travel voucher to use at a later time past the November deadline.

    Reply
    • As I understand it, anyone who needs to cancel a flight during this time and thus get a travel fund will have those funds extended so the expiration is not until the end of June 2021. Sorry you are having to cancel your cruise!

      Reply
  3. If Southwest cancels your flight, will they rebook the flight, or cancel all together? I’ve got a trip planned to Hawaii for myself and two friends in late April. Wondering if they would rebook or cancel, and if the full refund would be offered.

    Reply
    • Hi Sue Ann, they will try to rebook your flight first (if you want them to and so long as you can still fly to Hawaii). If you don’t want that, they will ask if you’ll take a travel fund that doesn’t expire until the end of June 2021. If not that, they will give you a refund back to the form of payment you paid with. Hope that helps! Hope you get to take your trip to Hawaii :).

      Reply
  4. Thanks for the information.
    We worried about the virus hence just rescheduled April Hawaii flight to July. Our travel fund is expiring this October.

    Will this new announcement benefit us still ?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Jennifer,
      Southwest has said it would take them a few weeks to get all the expiration dates updated. It’s been one week, so give them another 1-2 weeks and then reach out if you don’t see a change. Thanks!
      Lyn

      Reply
  5. Just to be clear, I currently have funds that will expire in March 2021. If I book a flight using those funds to fly in June and then cancel that flight the funds will now have an expiration date of June 30, 2021. Please confirm. Thabnks.

    Reply
    • That is how I understand it, though I have not tried it myself. It’s definitely worth a try, as worst case scenario is that your funds still expire in March 2021 ;-).

      Reply
  6. Re: “Extending the expiration date of funds set to expire by end of June until June 30, 2021. ”
    For funds that expire in June 2020
    Tried this twice in March and April. Both times it didn’t work.
    The travel credit retains the original June 2020 expiration date

    Reply
    • Hi DJ,
      So the other catch in all this is that Southwest has said it will take them a few weeks to get all expiration dates updated. No one’s funds seem to have been updated with the new date yet, so that could also be the reason. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Thanks for letting us know that you tried this!
      Lyn

      Reply
  7. Will the expiration extension and/or conversion to points option be available for LUV vouchers as well? I have a couple due to expire 10/2/20. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  8. Not sure if I should convert Travel Voucher $$ to Points. With Points if will last forever and easy cancel but no points earns for trips. With Voucher, I will earn some points (for CP as well) but will have an expiration date. As I fly often , thinking of taking the Vouchers……

    Question: With the points given toward a CP, I guess that will only be for one earned by 31 DEC 2020 and not carry over to 2021. As I have a CP now, guess no benefit for me?

    Reply
    • I’d switch to points. The points you earn for flights are not that great 😉 and that way you won’t have to worry about your expiration date. And that’s correct on the Companion Pass. You’ll start over with 0 points beginning Jan. 1, 2021. Re your Companion Pass, it depends on when you earned it. If you earned it this year, it’s already good through the end of 2021, so there is no benefit. If you earned it last year, it’s good through the end of 2020, so if you earned all 125,000 points again by Dec. 31, 2020, you’d have a pass good through 2021. That’s how I do mine every year :).

      Reply
  9. I have a $100 paper voucher that I got after a service issue on a flight. It expires in October. Will that be extended? Is my best play to use the voucher to book a flight now, cancel the flight, and hope it goes into my travel funds? I think if I did that, it would get the longer expiration date. Is that correct?

    Reply
    • I have asked Southwest, but so far no word on extending the expiration of LUV vouchers. I’d definitely try what you suggested to see if you can get a travel fund that would be good through Sept. 2022. That is what should happen. If they cancel the flight though, it would go back to your original method of payment (the voucher).

      Reply
      • I tried to book and cancel but it didn’t extend my expiration date. Now I have travel funds that expire on Oct 4, 2020, same date as the paper voucher I had.

        Reply
  10. My travel funds expire in 4 days (September 18). They said I have to fly by then, not rebook. They also don’t give you Rapid Rewards points unless you fly. So basically they just took my money. I didn’t predict this pandemic nor was I comfortable flying earlier this year. Doesn’t make sense how if I had booked these tickets 11 days prior last year in 2019 then the travel funds expire in 2022 but since I didn’t make the 09/07 cutoff my funds do not qualify for an extension of conversion to rewards points.

    Reply
    • Hi there,
      Yes, if you had reached out sooner,I could have helped you extend your travel funds to 2022 by booking a flight and then canceling it before the 9/7 deadline :(. These are the types of tips and tricks we offer inside our ALL ACCESS membership program (opens again for new members Sept. 24), which is especially handy for those who fly Southwest.

      It doesn’t look like you’re eligible to transfer the funds to points either, as the points never expire.

      The only other thing I could suggest is to go ahead and book a flight with those points to someplace you think you’d like to travel in the future rather than lose them entirely. You can always “change” a Southwest flight with NO change fee, so you can just keep changing this flight until you’re ready to travel again. That way at least you don’t totally lose the money.

      I’d recommend joining ALL ACCESS if you want more help with some of the more complicated side of things here (I do weekly webinars, live Q&As and provide personal help), as there are some great ways to get cheap flights right now that you can use in the future whenever you feel comfortable traveling again.

      Reply

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