Southwest Airlines is saying goodbye to expiration dates on vouchers. In a first-of-its-kind policy shift, the Dallas-based airline says any unexpired Southwest flight credits will be good forever as of July 28, 2022. Vouchers created on or after that date will also be treated the same way.
“The more than 62,000 People at Southwest share a renewed pride in our unmatched access to flexibility that once again reshapes the landscape of Hospitality and value in the industry,” said Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan.
“Flight credits don’t expire aligns with the boldness of a philosophy to give our Customers definitive simplicity and ease in travel, just like Bags fly free, just like No change fees, just like Points don’t expire — they’re a first-in-our-industry combination of differentiators that only Southwest offers."
In reviewing the fine print of Southwest’s promise, ConsumerAffairs found little that travelers will have to worry about. The only minor note that travelers should be aware of is that flight credits for non-refundable fares will be issued as long as the reservation is canceled more than 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.
Airline officials also noted that while the credits are now good “forever,” a customer’s account will show an expiration date of 12/31/2040 until the company's systems are updated.
Will other airlines follow suit?
Will Southwest’s move create a domino effect in the airline industry? It’s too early to tell, but recent moves made by other carriers suggest that it's a possibility.
When millions of Americans were forced to deal with canceled flights during the pandemic and were issued $10 billion in vouchers, most of those were only good for 12-24 months. That didn’t sit well with Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), nor members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The lawmakers thought that consumers needed more time to use the vouchers they were issued because of the volatility of flight schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the other four largest airlines, Delta and United seem to be the only ones that reacted positively to regulators' concerns. Both carriers pushed the expiration date on vouchers to the end of 2023.
When ConsumerAffairs reviewed American’s policy, we found that the company is sticking to its guns on its eVouchers. Unless things change, American vouchers are valid for one year from the date of issue, “and we won’t reissue them past the expiration date,” the airline said.