Since I don’t have any status with Southwest, I wasn’t worried about how they were going to treat their A-List members or the future of the beloved Companion Pass. As it turned out, that news came out this week and people are digesting what it means to them and how they can take advantage of the new benefits.
In the same press release, Southwest also announced how they’re going to be handling Travel Funds that will be expiring or that are issued for upcoming canceled flights.
Since Southwest’s cancelation policy was more generous than the other airlines, they needed to make fewer changes. Since the original offer didn’t make sense with all of the changes to travel, here’s what they’re offering now:
Previously, Customers’ travel funds that have expired or would have expired between March 1 – June 30, 2020, or travel funds that were created because of a cancellation between March 1 – June 30, 2020, had an expiration date of June 30, 2021. We are now expanding the window of funds eligible for extended expiration dates and extending the expiration date of these funds. Funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will have an expiration date of September 7, 2022. This gives Customers who had travel funds created in connection with this pandemic–or who won’t be comfortable traveling this summer–additional time to retake that same trip or explore a different destination. It will take our Technology Team a few days to make these changes and more details on this extension can be found at Southwest.com/RRcoronavirusupdates.
To recap, if your previously issued travel funds were due to expire between March 1st and September 7th, they would now expire on September 7, 2022.
Any funds issued for flights canceled between the same dates as above will also expire on September 7, 2022.
That’s a generous amount of time to extend travel funds since they’d usually expire one year from when you BOOKED the flight (not the date of the trip.)
Remember, you still need to fly before your travel funds expire. All flights need to be completed by September 7, 2022. Travel funds can only be used by the person on the original reservation. No using them to book flights for anyone else.
It’s still not a refund, but I’d think that the majority of people believe that travel will have become normalized in the next 2 & 1/2 years.
If you’re not sure if you’re going to be traveling or just don’t want your money tied up in travel fund, Southwest has another option.
Additionally, we have added a new benefit for our valued Rapid Rewards Members. Those Members who have travel funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020 will have the option to convert those travel funds into Rapid Rewards® points at the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today. We hope this provides our Members ultimate flexibility as Rapid Rewards points never expire, never have cancel or change fees (fare difference may apply), and you can redeem your points for anyone you choose.
Since Southwest Rapid Rewards is a fixed value loyalty program, you’re not losing any value by converting travel funds to points. There are positives to this option but also some things you need to be careful of.
- Southwest points never expire.
- You can use points to book points for anyone.
- Points are easier to keep track of than travel funds.
- If you cancel an award booking, you get the miles refunded to your account.
- You need to have the full amount of points to book an award, there are no points + cash bookings. With travel funds, you can pay the difference if your ticket is more than your credit.
- You do not receive Rapid Rewards points for flights paid with points.
- There’s always a risk of a devaluation if you keep points too long, but I think most airlines won’t devalue for a while.
Given, neither of these options are actually refunds, but there’s been less yelling at Southwest than other airlines. If your flight was canceled by Southwest, you could contact them for a refund to the original payment method. If you cancel your ticket, then you’re getting a travel fund credit.
Since Southwest always allowed you to cancel a flight for free, they have more options available. The extended dates of travel funds and the ability to turn these funds into Rapid Rewards points give passengers some choice in how they want to use the credit.
#stayhealthy #stayathome #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary