Horrible Southwest Refund Practice

Old Feb 18, 2019, 2:15 pm
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Horrible Southwest Refund Practice

One of the Southwest selling points is the one-year refund policy. But there is a lot in it. I learnt some lessons from it.

In Mar-2018, I booked some late Aug-2018 vacation flight tickets with gift card $$. Then I found the same air tickets were selling cheaper. So I cancelled and re-booked and saved about $4 each person.

In Sept-2018, I used the travel fund (about $15 total) and booked holiday travel tickets in Dec-2018.

In late Nov-2018, had to cancel the above tickets due to change of holiday travel dates. The new tickets costed substantially much more due to its approaching holiday time. Called SW and was informed that, the NEW TRAVEL FUND carried the expiration from Mar-2018 to Mar-2019. Any new travel would have to completed prior to MAR-2019. I had planned to book travel with another airline since other fares were much better and SW flights were limited to my home airport.

Lessons learnt from the above:
1. The entire travel fund carries the earliest of any money paid to purchase the last ticket. In this case, the $15 fund from the Mar-2018 purchase time stamped the entire $250 travel fund. The $230 new money put in Sept-2018 did not even count.
2. The travel fund carries the time stamp of the ticket purchase, not the actual travel.
3. The travel fund has to be USED (traveled), not just booked before the expiration.

With this practice, the expiration of the SW travel fund was shortened considerably. At that time, I has only about 2.5 months to use just because of the $20 refund $$ I received. In hindsight, it is not worth it.

To the end, I had to put in $100 more and purchased a $350 round-trip domestic air travel with SW. Not a pleasant experience.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 3:27 pm
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Sorry, but anytime you cancel something, it tells you about right there.

Compare that policy to Delta, United, American, etc. etc.

As to doing a cancel and rebooked for $4 - to each their own.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 4:02 pm
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Unless I miss something, this has all been well known for years. Discussed here many hundreds of times.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 4:29 pm
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The lesson learned is to always read the written COC and fare rules. Carefully. This is nothing new and, while I am no WN fan, the policy is entirely reasonable,
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 5:10 pm
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OP this is on you. Your failure to understand the policy isn’t WN's problem.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 5:17 pm
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As a long-time WN customer, I have always hated the expiration policies, and I was blindsided by them the first time I had to reschedule a flight booked with TTF. I'm used to them now, of course, but I can't help but sympathize with anyone else who is blindsided by the policies the first time they need to reschedule a flight.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 5:25 pm
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Blindsided, really?

Southwest does some sketchy advertising. I am not aware of any advertising that would make this a blindsided situation.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 7:13 pm
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Originally Posted by lougord99
Blindsided, really?

Southwest does some sketchy advertising. I am not aware of any advertising that would make this a blindsided situation.
Blindsided (verb): catch (someone) unprepared; attack from an unexpected position

Blindsided doesn't mean "they deceived me", it means, "I was hit by something unexpectedly.

I am not aware of any advertising of the TTF policies. Hence "blindsided".

Certainly, they're not hiding the policies. But they're not advertising them, either. The policies are just in the fine print.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 7:23 pm
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Please send a letter to the CEO and DEMAND he use the normal refund policy.

$200 to change flights
One year to use the remaining balance.


Please
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 7:41 pm
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere
Please send a letter to the CEO and DEMAND he use the normal refund policy.

$200 to change flights
One year to use the remaining balance.


Please
From the date of purchase.

Still trying to figure out how one is blind-sided or it is unfair when it is fully disclosed but someone makes a person choice not to read the disclosure, e.g. contract + fare rules and then make a decision as to whether he is better off on another carrier.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 8:36 pm
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I actually have more sympathy for people caught in this situation than those from the recent similar thread, re: not automatically tracked credits. In my book, tainting funds is one of the least customer friendly practices that WN engages in. I agree that it's on the customer to be aware of the terms and conditions they're accepting, but it isn't exactly intuitive so I do have a measure of sympathy.

On the other hand, if WN still allows you to convert expired TTF to an open voucher less a (pretty reasonable) $100 fee, I'd argue that their policy is leaps and bounds better than most (all?) other domestic airlines.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 9:07 pm
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That's the excuse my kids try to use, "it's not MY fault; I didn't know; no one told me"

Now you know, You've been told, (I might add, in front of others, on a public social media forum.)
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 9:35 pm
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Ultimately, it's up to the end user to understand the policies when they make their purchase. Unfortunately, OP learned this the hard way. I'm not the biggest WN fan by any stretch, but their policies around reservation cancellations/changes are a win-win situation for the company. They earn rave reviews in customer service and are one of the most loved airlines by the general public in the US, even through the majority of the flying public rarely, if ever, changes their flights. At the same time, the tight restrictions they put in place around these travel funds means a lot of them go unused. I have no idea if WN has ever made any of these numbers public, but I would imagine they earn quite a bit from unused or expired funds.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 9:50 pm
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Originally Posted by WillCAD
Blindsided (verb): catch (someone) unprepared; attack from an unexpected position

Blindsided doesn't mean "they deceived me", it means, "I was hit by something unexpectedly.

I am not aware of any advertising of the TTF policies. Hence "blindsided".

Certainly, they're not hiding the policies. But they're not advertising them, either. The policies are just in the fine print.
Semantics maybe, but I believe most people would use blindside when they couldn't see something coming, not because they didn't look. If I cross the street without looking and was hit by a Mack truck, I'm not sure I'd call it being blindsided because it was reasonable to assume that there might be a truck coming down the road and I just didn't look. Same with the WN policy. It's there for all to see but if I choose not to look, that's more of a caveat emptor than a blindside.
Originally Posted by synergistic
I actually have more sympathy for people caught in this situation than those from the recent similar thread, re: not automatically tracked credits. In my book, tainting funds is one of the least customer friendly practices that WN engages in. I agree that it's on the customer to be aware of the terms and conditions they're accepting, but it isn't exactly intuitive so I do have a measure of sympathy.

On the other hand, if WN still allows you to convert expired TTF to an open voucher less a (pretty reasonable) $100 fee, I'd argue that their policy is leaps and bounds better than most (all?) other domestic airlines.
Tainting funds is how WN can afford to offer "free" changes. In fact, the travel funds expiration is part of the refunds policy in WN's CoC. So to take one part of the policy and say it is one of the least customer friendly practices is really taking it out of context. Sure it would be great if they didn't do that but the likelihood is that if they didn't, then they wouldn't have "free changes", full credit of ticket purchased, etc. I think you have to put the entire process in context and then consider the totality of it as either friendly or unfriendly.
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Old Feb 18, 2019, 10:53 pm
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Everyone that routinely books WN gets bitten by this once. Then you learn, build yourself a nice Google Spreadsheet to keep track of your TTFs and their expiration dates, etc.

Is it a hassle? Yes.

Is it by design? Almost certainly.

Can it be managed, and is it worth it? Definitely.
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