Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Southwest Airlines | Rapid Rewards
Reload this Page >

Southwest Airlines Travel Funds - Shady Tactics (Expiration and Tainting)

Southwest Airlines Travel Funds - Shady Tactics (Expiration and Tainting)

Reply

Old Jul 1, 19, 9:48 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 8
Angry Southwest Airlines Travel Funds - Shady Tactics (Expiration and Tainting)

Southwest luv's to advertise travel funds from canceled flights can be used up to one year from the original purchase date, but that is not always true. There is some sneaky fine print that can expire all funds sooner than expected, and occasional travelers like me get screwed out of credits.

In February, 2019 I bought a ticket, then canceled the flight long before travel. My over $300 in travel credit should have been valid until February of 2020, but it wasn't. They said it would expire July, 2019. ...?

Why? I thought the policy was clear and simple. "Unused, refundable tickets that do not carry restrictions may be applied toward future travel or refunded within one year from the date of issue." as per https://www.southwest.com/html/custo...-info-pol.html

Southwest explained, because I had a small amount of credit when I bought the ticket in February, since the credit was issued in July, 2018, the entire amount of my funds would expire in July, 2019. That's some twisted math.

They directed me to their terms of purchase, https://www.southwest.com/assets/pdf...f-carriage.pdf
On page 13, section 3, paragraph iii. "The expiration date of any travel credit will apply to any Tickets purchased with these funds."

I'm at a loss as to how that one sentence can mean, say I buy a $300 ticket, pay $299, and apply $1 credit from a past flight, why the $299 expires at the same time the $1?

That's some shady sh*t, Southwest.

No other store would say, hey sorry, no $299 refund because the item you returned was bought with a $1 credit.

Last edited by jon512; Jul 1, 19 at 9:53 pm
jon512 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 19, 10:11 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: San Diego, CA
Programs: Southwest A-List; Alaska MVP; Hilton Diamond
Posts: 259
Originally Posted by jon512 View Post
They directed me to their terms of purchase, https://www.southwest.com/assets/pdf...f-carriage.pdf
On page 13, section 3, paragraph iii. "The expiration date of any travel credit will apply to any Tickets purchased with these funds."

I'm at a loss as to how that one sentence can mean, say I buy a $300 ticket, pay $299, and apply $1 credit from a past flight, why the $299 expires at the same time the $1?
Really? Youíre at a loss as to how it says that?

Thatís exactly what it says.

Disappointed? Upset? I get that.

But the terms are pretty clear. Itís too bad you didnít understand the terms and got bit by them (many of us, including myself, have).

IMO Southwest has a really generous change/cancel policy, even with the possible contamination of TTFs.
ursine1 and Tanic like this.
twitch76 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 19, 11:02 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 8
If my favorite store refuses to credit the paid, non-expired amount of a return, they’re being shady.

Purchase amounts should be credited for one year until used, as they advertise, and if not, they should clearly say so when credits are applied during purchase.

Pointing to a vague sentence buried in the terms is absolutely shady.

Last edited by jon512; Jul 1, 19 at 11:10 pm
jon512 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 19, 11:32 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 5,413
Originally Posted by jon512 View Post
Purchase amounts should be credited for one year until used, as they advertise, and if not, they should clearly say so when credits are applied during purchase.
It's unfortunate that you weren't aware of the policy.

When you apply credits during purchase, it does quite clearly say that the new reservation will take on the earliest expiration of any funds applied.

Failing to note this is on you. Sorry.
Attached Images  
ursine1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 1, 19, 11:55 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 3,421
Failure of OP to understand the rules doesn't constitute shadiness by WN.
smmrfld is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 5:19 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Programs: DL Silver, Marriott Gold, HH Gold, National Executive
Posts: 60
WN is the only airline to let you even change flights for free...WN is definitely not being shady.
Traveler_boy_25 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 7:43 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 5,165
They could not issue travel funds or charge you $200 or $300 to change a ticket. That is the industry standard.
rsteinmetz70112 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 8:19 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 1,067
Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post
They could not issue travel funds or charge you $200 or $300 to change a ticket. That is the industry standard.
That's more or less how I see it. I actually think it's a ...... policy, but if I had to choose, I'd pick no change fees all day. Even if you have to let it expire to reclaim it as a voucher, $100 is better than the other guys.
synergistic is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 8:32 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Blue Ridge, GA
Posts: 4,287
Other options do exist.

"Many times if you call Southwest Customer service, they will give you a 12-month expiration on your travel funds but it will cost $100.
Applying Southwest Voucher

If the phone agent is not willing to budge, try calling back later and speaking with another one.
LegalTender is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 10:59 am
  #10  
nsx
Moderator: Southwest Airlines
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: California
Programs: WN Companion Pass, A-list preferred, United Club ex-Lifetime Member
Posts: 19,493
If I were running Southwest I'd add a pop-up warning box "Are you sure? All funds must be flown by mm-dd-yy if you proceed", to be shown whenever more than 20% of the funds are more than a month newer than the oldest. This would reduce breakage and reduce customer badwill in equal measure.
DoB840 likes this.
nsx is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 1:22 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 5,413
Originally Posted by nsx View Post
If I were running Southwest I'd add a pop-up warning box "Are you sure? All funds must be flown by mm-dd-yy if you proceed", to be shown whenever more than 20% of the funds are more than a month newer than the oldest. This would reduce breakage and reduce customer badwill in equal measure.
It's unlikely they would spend money to reduce breakage. As we know, they already go farther than other carriers with respect to reusable funds. If anything, expect tighter limitations.
steved5480 and joshua362 like this.
ursine1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 9:48 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: PHX
Programs: AA Gold, WN A+ & CP, HH Diamond, Hyatt Platinum, National Executive Elite
Posts: 3,054
Originally Posted by jon512 View Post
Why? I thought the policy was clear and simple. "Unused, refundable tickets that do not carry restrictions may be applied toward future travel or refunded within one year from the date of issue." as per https://www.southwest.com/html/custo...-info-pol.html

They directed me to their terms of purchase, https://www.southwest.com/assets/pdf...f-carriage.pdf
On page 13, section 3, paragraph iii. "The expiration date of any travel credit will apply to any Tickets purchased with these funds."

No other store would say, hey sorry, no $299 refund because the item you returned was bought with a $1 credit.
Maybe it doesn't make a difference as I can't recall a time that I've canceled and not flown shortly thereafter so this is not really directed at OP but a general question. The OP quotes the policy about refundable tickets and then the PDF is pointing to non-refundable tickets. If you buy a refundable ticket and use some travel credit, I thought the refundable part went back to the original form of purchase. I know if you have multiple credits from WGA, for example, that using them for one ticket will cause the ticket to take on the oldest credit. I just thought it was different if you bought a refundable ticket.

Also, to the OP, airlines aren't stores and their inventory, when not purchased, doesn't disintegrate into thin air (quite literally) at certain times throughout the day.
justhere is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 2, 19, 11:39 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Programs: AAPlt 1MM, HHDmd, MBvLTG, PCAmb
Posts: 1,234
Originally Posted by rsteinmetz70112 View Post
They could not issue travel funds or charge you $200 or $300 to change a ticket. That is the industry standard.
While the above is a true statement, and a lot of people are giving Southwest some slack because of their generous change policy, I think part of the OP’s point (and one I agree with) is that WN goes out of their way to advertise that they are not the industry standard. Therefore you need to judge how they implement their policies against their customer promise - not what the competition does.

Shady is not the right word - as shown they state the policy when you redeem a voucher (even if the buyer misses it). I am sure many lawyers have signed off on it. But I do think at some point how Southwest has implemented this policy will catch up with them - especially in cases where the amount that expired “early” - aka less than one year from the time funds touched Southwest’s books - exceed the value of the credit used that caused the “early” expiration. I think this situation is a class action waiting to happen relative to their advertising and branding, and probably when it goes to court we will all learn it has more to do with their antiquated IT systems than purposely trying to take from their customers.

I had a recent experience where I used 2 x $50 ticketless funds on tickets last November (for April travel) and then due to price drops ended up with 2 x $110 in ticketless funds with only a month left to use in April. My specific case was a little more complex because the price dropped 7 times over a couple weeks end of March, which is rare. And even though I am a pretty experienced flyer, I guess I had never re-fared a WN flight more than once - so I thought each change/credit would go back to the same ticketless fund. Instead I ended up with 7 ticketless funds x 2 people (14 total) with weeks to use.

I did have one trip I could try and take before expiration, but then with 7 TTF per person trying to book one trip - even as two one-ways - you run into other policies like max 3 payment sources. And on top of that WN applies the smallest TTF amount from a single locator to the new reservation first, even if the order you received them was different (more IT limitations I assume). I would have needed at least two round-trips in those 5 weeks to use them all - and in that timeframe you are not talking sale fares. Even with $220 in credit, my ticketless funds became practically valueless and unusable from my point of view (even if technically, by letter of the law, they had value).

Even more frustrating, I did have another trip to book one month after expiration. Letting the TTF expire and paying the $100 each person would have netted me 2 x $10 LUV vouchers. I would have been much better off not using my TTF in the first place - letting the $50 x 2 expire and having $110 x 2 for my June trip - would have saved me net $120 - and again I think that is where WN will eventually need to take action. If you offer something - even if no one else in your industry does - then there will be consumer protections at play that ensure the average consumer can reasonably expect to utilize the value offered.

I think a good start would be the big warning nsx suggested about the inherited expiration date, especially if your net new money in far exceeds the credit being used. Longer-term I really think Southwest should track the funds digitally in a wallet like many other airlines manage to do, and decouple the expiration dates of funds from the tickets. That may mean some policy changes too - and even a small change fee. But overall it would go a long way to delivering on their Transfarency brand promise in these situations.

Last thing to add is that I was able to work something out with Southwest customer service for my situation - which reaffirmed for me why they are different than the others and will keep my family flying with them. But one of the main reasons I book most of my domestic family trips on WN is the ability to lock in our flights earlier and worse case if the price drops, have the vouchers for the next trip. Having now been caught with short expiration of TTF a couple times, will use points the next couple trips we want to reserve a ways out, but eventually will need to wait longer/closer to book when the points are gone - which does erode one of the main reasons we fly WN.








Last edited by dbuckho; Jul 3, 19 at 12:52 am
dbuckho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 3, 19, 12:00 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 5,413
Originally Posted by dbuckho View Post
Shady is not the right word - as shown they state the policy when you redeem a voucher (even if the buyer misses it). I am sure many lawyers have signed off on it. But I do think at some point how Southwest has implemented this policy will catch up with them - especially in cases where the amount that expired “early” - aka less than one year from the time funds touched Southwest’s books - exceed the value of the credit used that caused the “early” expiration. I think this situation is a class action waiting to happen relative to their advertising and branding, and probably when it goes to court we will all learn it has more to do with their antiquated IT systems than purposely trying to take from their customers.

----
If you offer something - even if no one else in your industry does - then there will be consumer protections at play that ensure the average consumer can reasonably expect to utilize the value offered.
----
I think a good start would be the big warning suggested about the inherited expiration date. Longer-term I really think Southwest should track the funds digitally in a wallet like many other airlines manage to do, and decouple the expiration dates of funds from the tickets. That may mean some policy changes too - and even a small change fee. But overall it would go a long way to delivering on their Transfarency brand promise in these situations.
Great ideas.

1) That class action will never happen.

2) Expecting a company to offer such "consumer protections" is simply out of touch with reality.

3) It's much more likely that tighter limitations on the use of travel funds will be implemented before any kind of digital wallet ever will.

I'm really not sure how anyone who has been paying attention to the airline industry could believe Southwest would move in this direction.
Tanic likes this.
ursine1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Jul 3, 19, 12:07 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Santa Monica, CA
Programs: AAPlt 1MM, HHDmd, MBvLTG, PCAmb
Posts: 1,234
Originally Posted by ursine1 View Post
Great ideas.

1) That class action will never happen.

2) Expecting a company to offer such "consumer protections" is simply out of touch with reality.

3) It's much more likely that tighter limitations on the use of travel funds will be implemented before any kind of digital wallet ever will.

I'm really not sure how anyone who has been paying attention to the airline industry could believe Southwest would move in this direction.
i agree with you. I was not saying that I expect Southwest would do anything willingly. And I agree only more limitations will come. But at some point legal action might force action.

I am not sure a class suit could be won, but I do think eventually one will come for this specific type of case - where the expired value exceeds original credit. Just an opinion - but I have seen class actions filed for less over the years. For example, I could easily see something like this filed - just replace the plaintiff Giavasis with jon512

Giavasis says she felt “ripped off” and “cheated”​​​​​​
Giavasis accuses ... of violating the California False Advertising Act and the California Unfair Business Practices Act.

Not even saying I want to see a suit like this. I like Southwest and its effect on the market. And perhaps even if a suit was filed it would be unwinnable. But again - in my opinion - the specific way they have implemented this scenario in their policy seems to be a blind spot vs. what they advertise. It creates a situation where their customer feels cheated out of money - even if the policies are all correct and legal, and the competition would not offer it in the first place. Never a place you want to be with your customer - and maybe one decides they feel cheated enough to take the next step (even if we all go back and forth here logically on about how the should have known).








Last edited by dbuckho; Jul 3, 19 at 1:09 am
dbuckho is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread