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Consumer Loyalty: Airline declares flight vouchers no longer have expiration date

Photo: GI

*The Southwest Airlines’ officials say the first-of-its-kind decision pushes American aviation firm’s hospitality even further ahead of its competitors globally, as any unexpired flight credits are now good forever

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Southwest Airlines is saying goodbye to expiration dates on air travellers’ vouchers.

It was gathered that in a first-of-its-kind policy shift, the Dallas-based United States (US) airline says any unexpired Southwest flight credits will be good forever as of July 28, 2022.

Photo: Market Screener

Vouchers created on or after that date will also be treated the same way.

What is an airline voucher?

An airline voucher has been described as “a coupon or credit that you may be provided, by an airline. Airline vouchers can only be used for goods or services from the specific airline from which they are given!

“You may get an airline voucher if your flight is cancelled, or if your flight was delayed. An airline voucher may be used toward a new ticket purchase, or a type of good or service on a future flight with the same airline.”

Bob Jordan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Southwest Airlines, said: “The more than 62,000 people at Southwest share a renewed pride in our unmatched access to flexibility that once again reshapes the landscape of Hospitality and value in the industry.

“Flight credits don’t expire aligns with the boldness of a philosophy to give our Customers definitive simplicity and ease in travel, just like Bags fly free, just like No change fees, just like Points don’t expire — they’re a first-in-our-industry combination of differentiators that only Southwest offers.”

In reviewing the fine print of Southwest’s promise, there is little that travellers will have to worry about, reports ConsumerAffairs.

The only minor note that travellers should be aware of is that flight credits for non-refundable fares will be issued as long as the reservation is cancelled more than 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure, report said.

Airline officials also noted that while the credits are now good “forever,” a customer’s account will show an expiration date of 12/31/2040 until the company’s systems are updated.

Will other airlines follow suit?

Will Southwest’s move create a domino effect in the airline industry? It was further learnt that it’s too early to tell, but recent moves made by other carriers suggest that it’s a possibility.

When millions of Americans were forced to deal with cancelled flights during the pandemic and were issued $10billion in vouchers, most of those were only good for 12-24 months at the time.

That didn’t augur well with Senators Edward Markey (D-MA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), nor members of the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

The lawmakers thought that consumers needed more time to use the vouchers they were issued because of the volatility of flight schedules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the other four largest airlines, Delta and United seem to be the only ones that reacted positively to regulators’ concerns.

Both carriers pushed the expiration date on vouchers to the end of 2023.

In a review of the American’s policy, report found that the company is sticking to its guns on its eVouchers.

Unless things change, American vouchers are valid for a year from the date of issue, “and we won’t reissue them past the expiration date,” the airline said.

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