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We Won! Southwest Airlines Is The 1st Airline With Flight Credits That No Longer Expire

Travelers holding credits from canceled trips will have cause for celebration, as they are in for some good news.

Southwest Airlines has become the first major U.S. airline to announce that they will be eliminating expiration dates on all flight credits currently held by customers, as well as any future credits issued in the future.

This news was confirmed to The Points Guy (TPG) by Southwest Airlines officials, and is seen as a major step forward for customer service within the aviation industry.

The policy does not apply to credits that have already lapsed or become invalid, which includes credits from flights that customers had to cancel during the initial twelve-month period of the pandemic.

These credits are no longer eligible for redemption and unfortunately cannot be used for future trips.

Any credits that are generated on or after July 28, 2022, or have an expiration date set on or after that date, will be automatically and indefinitely extended by the airline.

This means that such credits will remain valid without expiring until further notice from the airline.

That would include credits issued for flights that were canceled early in the pandemic, which had been extended several times by Southwest Airlines and were set to expire this coming September, Ryan Green, a senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Southwest, told The Points Guy.

Previously available expiration dates have been further pushed back, allowing travelers more time to use their credits and make flight plans that work around their schedules.

“Those credits were set to expire on Sept. 7,” Green said. “We’ve eliminated the expiration date on those.

CEO Bob Jordan has expressed a spirit of boldness and determination in Southwest Airlines unique offerings; they now allow passengers to retain their flight credits indefinitely. “This is part of a suite of customer friendly innovations we offer,” stated Jordan, ”including free checked luggage, no fee changes, and years-long expiry

As a beginning move, the airline has decided to modify the expiration date on certain flight credits to an indefinite placeholder date of December 31, 2040, in anticipation of IT work that should be finished by the end of this year.

This will enable them to provide flight credits with no fixed expiry dates. The airline issued a statement confirming their expectations for completion of the IT related tasks before the close of 2021.

In order to receive a credit on a non-refundable ticket, customers are required to cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time. Those who have purchased one of Southwest’s highest three fare types can additionally transfer the credit they receive to another person.

The approximately $400 million flight credits on Southwest, making up 6% of the airline’s air traffic liability, will be immediately affected by their recent policy change. According to the Chief Financial Officer of the business, Tammy Romo, many individual flight credits are involved in this transition.

“It’s historically been maybe a little bit lighter than that,” Romo added.

The numbers of credits that have expired without being used over the past year are unknown. It is not clear how many such credits have come to an end.

The introduction of flight credits as a response to the pandemic, which was first seen in 2020 and has carried through into 2021, quickly became a highly-discussed topic.

Airlines implemented adaptable cancellation policies for non-refundable tickets with the aim of allowing customers to postpone their trips in return for obtaining a flight credit. In doing so, airlines were able to provide some relief for those affected by the outbreak of Covid-19.

The expiration policies of the respective airlines varied greatly – while they normally had an expiry date of one year, due to the ongoing pandemic, many airlines granted extensions to their rules.

However, this was not a universal solution as some passengers were still too anxious or apprehensive about traveling in such uncertain times.

Several airlines have come under fire from both customers and the Department of Transportation for attempting to persuade passengers into accepting vouchers in situations where they were legally obliged to offer cash reimbursements.

This has prompted a huge outcry from consumers, who feel like their rights are being infringed upon.

The DOT has also expressed its displeasure with this practice, as it believes that all airline companies should adhere to the law and provide refunds when required. It is clear that these airlines need to take responsibility for their actions and ensure that they never make such demands again.

Despite the lack of disclosure, a thorough analysis conducted by The Points Guy (TPG) in March 2021 revealed that the major airlines had issued an estimated 20 million vouchers throughout 2020, amounting to around $10.4 billion in total.

This is a remarkable figure which not only highlights just how much these companies have lost due to travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but also serves as a reminder that many individuals have been forced to defer or cancel their plans for significant periods over the past year.

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