Southwest extends all expiring travel funds to 6/30/2021

Southwest has long been the maverick in the airline industry by never imposing change, cancellation, or checked bag fees.  A few days ago, they even begin waiving fare difference increases for flight changes, meaning that you could change your existing reservation to a more expensive flight with the same routing without any additional fees whatsoever.  In light of the public's hesitation to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, today they also announced that they will be extending all expiring travel funds to June 30, 2021!

Normally when you cancel a non-refundable Southwest ticket, you get a refund in for the form of travel funds that must be used on another Southwest ticket within 12 months of the original ticketing date.  So if you booked say a ticket in September 2019 to fly in April 2020 and you ended up canceling the reservation, you would need to travel and use the funds within 12 months of your original ticketing date by September 2020.  But with Southwest's travel fund extension, all travel funds that have expired or would have expired between March 1 and May 31, 2020 can now be used for travel all the way through June 30, 2021.

In recognition of the current travel environment, we are extending the expiration date of some travel funds:

  • Customers’ funds that have expired or will expire between March 1-May 31, 2020, will now expire June 30, 2021
  • Any newly created travel fund because of a flight cancellation between March 1-May 31, 2020, will have an expiration date of June 30, 2021

What's great about this policy is that it extends to not only previously expired travel funds from March 1, 2020, but also for flights that you may have booked today and decided to later on cancel.  So at the bare minimum, your travel funds will be good for 15+ months if you booked a non-refundable Southwest flight and later decided to cancel.

Bottom line

Whereas the other carriers have implemented change fee waivers for flight bookings due to the coronavirus pandemic, Southwest really hasn't needed to make any changes since their existing policy is still by far the most flexible in the industry.  It's great to already see them go beyond the call a few days ago by straight up eliminating fare increases for flight changes.  And with the extension of travel fund expirations beyond 12 months, they continue to show themselves as the maverick of the airline market.

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