Getting hosed on SW travel funds

Old Nov 12, 20, 2:28 pm
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Getting hosed on SW travel funds

I had booked some cheap flights on AMEX in Dec 2019, ended up canceling them few days later and converted these to travel funds. I wasn't worried about their usage since I had fairly aggressive travel plans for this year. Moving on to 2020... all travel is canceled and thankfully, most airlines were gracious enough to work with extensions. However, I did not realize since these were canceled before March and expiration for these travel funds is after Sept 7th, these will not be extended by SW!!

Only travel funds created or expiring between March and Sept were extended till Sept 2022. This seems to be unfair and arbitrary timeline. Infection rates haven't dropped much less stopped since September.... nothing has changed.
(My only possible workaround here would have been to rebook using old funds and cancel again b/w months of March and Sept, HOPING that these would have a new expiration. Although, these could have still kept the original expiration which is normally the case)

CSR on ph absolutely refused to help and stated policy. Suggested reaching out on email to Customer Relations. Any thoughts/ comments to resolve this situation?
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Old Nov 12, 20, 2:49 pm
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Originally Posted by carsnoceans View Post
I had booked some cheap flights on AMEX in Dec 2019, ended up canceling them few days later and converted these to travel funds. I wasn't worried about their usage since I had fairly aggressive travel plans for this year. Moving on to 2020... all travel is canceled and thankfully, most airlines were gracious enough to work with extensions. However, I did not realize since these were canceled before March and expiration for these travel funds is after Sept 7th, these will not be extended by SW!!

Only travel funds created or expiring between March and Sept were extended till Sept 2022. This seems to be unfair and arbitrary timeline. Infection rates haven't dropped much less stopped since September.... nothing has changed.
(My only possible workaround here would have been to rebook using old funds and cancel again b/w months of March and Sept, HOPING that these would have a new expiration. Although, these could have still kept the original expiration which is normally the case)

CSR on ph absolutely refused to help and stated policy. Suggested reaching out on email to Customer Relations. Any thoughts/ comments to resolve this situation?
I still hope for another opportunity to extend expiration, but September 7 this year was the deadline to extend expiration. The trick was to book anything with the funds then cancel it. This was posted on this forum and in the newsflash thread: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32658308-post159.html

There are thousands of people in your position. I urge Southwest to give you all the same break that those of us who used the "book and cancel" trick got.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
I still hope for another opportunity to extend expiration, but September 7 this year was the deadline to extend expiration. The trick was to book anything with the funds then cancel it. This was posted on this forum and in the newsflash thread: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32658308-post159.html

There are thousands of people in your position. I urge Southwest to give you all the same break that those of us who used the "book and cancel" trick got.
Yes I just learned about the book with funds and cancel trick. I don't think it was well thought out... or maybe WN did not realize the extent of lasting infection.

Either ways, it's been more than 2 months past September and WN should have done something abt it unless they are plainly out to get their customers money.

Edit - Datapoint: Their twitter support pretty much admitted to this loophole but can't do anything about it now. Other reports show same results for emailing Customer Relations.

Last edited by carsnoceans; Nov 12, 20 at 3:40 pm
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Old Nov 12, 20, 3:43 pm
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Originally Posted by carsnoceans View Post
Yes I just learned about the book with funds and cancel trick. I don't think it was well thought out... or maybe WN did not realize the extent of lasting infection.

Either ways, it's been more than 2 months past September and WN should have done something abt it unless they are plainly out to get their customers money.

Edit - Datapoint: Their twitter support pretty much admitted to this loophole but can't do anything about it now. Other reports show same results for emailing Customer Relations.
I'm in the same boat. I contacted their twitter support & called them, and pointed out that they rewarded customers who tried a hack, while punishing customers who patiently waited for an extension. My credit expires in Feb 2021 and I almost certainly won't get to use it. The whole experience has soured me on Southwest vs. how the mainline carriers are handling it. I'd argue that Delta & AA currently have better change policies than Southwest, and equivalent ones beyond the new year.

FWIW, there is apparently the voucher option. $100 fee (use an Amex card to use the travel credit?) and a 6 month extension from when you request it (within 6 months of expiration). I spent hours being annoyed, then realized it probably wasn't worth my energy.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 5:19 pm
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Originally Posted by hkcj View Post
I'd argue that Delta & AA currently have better change policies than Southwest, and equivalent ones beyond the new year.
I don't know anything about Delta, but AA certainly does not have better and I would argue much worse. You can track your funds on Southwest website, you cannot on AA. You simply need your PRN on Southwest, which you can get from the website, on AA you need a 'ticket number' which you can only get by cancelling or changing and then you must keep your cancel or change email. You can use your funds on the Southwest web site, you must call reservations to use AA funds on a reservation.

I do not understand where you feel AA is better than Southwest on this.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 5:52 pm
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Originally Posted by hkcj View Post
I'm in the same boat. ....
FWIW, there is apparently the voucher option. $100 fee (use an Amex card to use the travel credit?) and a 6 month extension from when you request it (within 6 months of expiration). I spent hours being annoyed, then realized it probably wasn't worth my energy.
Agreed. I don't understand their Sept timeline.
Virus hasn't gone anywhere. Vaccine is still months away from being available. People are getting sick and worse, dying. It is not unreasonable for people to ask for extensions (not even refunds).

Originally Posted by lougord99 View Post
I don't know anything about Delta, but AA certainly does not have better and I would argue much worse. You can track your funds on Southwest website, you cannot on AA. You simply need your PRN on Southwest, which you can get from the website, on AA you need a 'ticket number' which you can only get by cancelling or changing and then you must keep your cancel or change email. You can use your funds on the Southwest web site, you must call reservations to use AA funds on a reservation.

I do not understand where you feel AA is better than Southwest on this.
Agreed but this is a part of their normal infrastructure. Policy-wise, Southwest did not handle this well, imo.

PS - I am going to keep these flight records for few months incase there is a class action in future.

Last edited by carsnoceans; Nov 12, 20 at 6:03 pm
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Old Nov 12, 20, 6:53 pm
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Sorry

Southwest has been great through this whole thing.

And I am about to switch my travelfunds to points.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 9:24 pm
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Originally Posted by NoStressHere View Post
Sorry

Southwest has been great through this whole thing.

And I am about to switch my travelfunds to points.
I completely agree. Southwest has been transparent (sorry about that) and generous with their terms. Class action? Please.
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Old Nov 12, 20, 11:12 pm
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Originally Posted by tennster View Post
I completely agree. Southwest has been transparent (sorry about that) and generous with their terms. Class action? Please.
Yes, they've been better than most. But it's a low bar. And since some customers had to book and then cancel a dummy flight to extend their funds, a work-around that Customer Service never suggested nor even confirmed would work, I'm not sure I'd give them high marks for transparency. It's important to keep in mind that Southwest was only "generous" to a subset of their customers. The customers who are now losing their funds are the ones who took CR at their word, who in good faith repeatedly rebooked their itineraries (and never received any funds extension) or whose fund's expiration's fell outside of the covered period.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 7:09 am
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Originally Posted by ursine1 View Post
Yes, they've been better than most. But it's a low bar. And since some customers had to book and then cancel a dummy flight to extend their funds, a work-around that Customer Service never suggested nor even confirmed would work, I'm not sure I'd give them high marks for transparency. It's important to keep in mind that Southwest was only "generous" to a subset of their customers. The customers who are now losing their funds are the ones who took CR at their word, who in good faith repeatedly rebooked their itineraries (and never received any funds extension) or whose fund's expiration's fell outside of the covered period.
This. To take advantage of their generosity, I would have had to intentionally try to hack their system against all their normal posted policies (e.g. that a canceled flight booked with a travel credit retains the original travel credit's date).

I don't, by the way, think they have any obligation to help. I canceled a non-refundable ticket in February, and then a pandemic hit. Why should they eat the cost rather than me? The only answer I can really think of is that they got lots of our tax money, but that's a pretty weak argument since that was for jobs. But I do think it's a bit scheme-ey to have a loophole for hyper-engaged customers and leave everyone else out in the dust. (Note that hyper-engaged customers are not necessarily the highest spenders: not every frequent traveler has time to be keeping up on the forums.)
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Old Nov 13, 20, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by ursine1 View Post
some customers had to book and then cancel a dummy flight to extend their funds, a work-around that Customer Service never suggested nor even confirmed would work
I have a pretty intelligent friend who never would have thought of this if I had not explained it.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 5:28 pm
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Originally Posted by hkcj View Post
This. To take advantage of their generosity, I would have had to intentionally try to hack their system against all their normal posted policies (e.g. that a canceled flight booked with a travel credit retains the original travel credit's date).

I don't, by the way, think they have any obligation to help. I canceled a non-refundable ticket in February, and then a pandemic hit. Why should they eat the cost rather than me? The only answer I can really think of is that they got lots of our tax money, but that's a pretty weak argument since that was for jobs. But I do think it's a bit scheme-ey to have a loophole for hyper-engaged customers and leave everyone else out in the dust. (Note that hyper-engaged customers are not necessarily the highest spenders: not every frequent traveler has time to be keeping up on the forums.)
That's all I am saying. Generally, rebooking using funds doesn't extend the travel date. Why would it have been different this time?!

I am not going to get in the argument of who should eat the cost because of pandemic OR about WN in general. That would be going off-topic.

However, I had have better luck with getting refunds/ credits (for COVID impacted travel) from American Airlines (surprise!), Air Canada, LH and Qatar (J tix - $$$). For WN, being an airline that prides on transparency, this was a colossal failure IMHO.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 9:36 pm
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
I have a pretty intelligent friend who never would have thought of this if I had not explained it.
most people aren't wired like us "highly engaged" individuals.
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Old Nov 13, 20, 11:39 pm
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Originally Posted by nsx View Post
I still hope for another opportunity to extend expiration, but September 7 this year was the deadline to extend expiration. The trick was to book anything with the funds then cancel it. This was posted on this forum and in the newsflash thread: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/32658308-post159.html

There are thousands of people in your position. I urge Southwest to give you all the same break that those of us who used the "book and cancel" trick got.
i did not see a thread on this and didnít want to create a thread but I also found some oddities when you take a current flight and rebook it and how the fare was changed

1. flights that had no wanna fares available, when you changed flights these became available.

2. the fares didnít match. Sometimes in rebooking and you had a very high add on fare vs you canceling and then rebook the flight from scratch. Other times the change was a steal as if you got free money where you paid $59 initially on flight 1 and changed it to flight 2 and paid no ir lityke added fare thrn cancel it outright it turns into $200+
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Old Nov 14, 20, 1:04 am
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Originally Posted by djp98374 View Post
i did not see a thread on this and didnít want to create a thread but I also found some oddities when you take a current flight and rebook it and how the fare was changed

1. flights that had no wanna fares available, when you changed flights these became available.

2. the fares didnít match. Sometimes in rebooking and you had a very high add on fare vs you canceling and then rebook the flight from scratch. Other times the change was a steal as if you got free money where you paid $59 initially on flight 1 and changed it to flight 2 and paid no ir lityke added fare thrn cancel it outright it turns into $200+
Maybe it's just me, but I haven't a clue what you're trying to communicate here.
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