Applying a Southwest Voucher to a Future Flight

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As you may or may not be aware, Southwest has one of the most flexible policies when it comes to altering an existing reservation. You can change and cancel reservations for NO FEE and if a flight goes down in price, you can get the flight re-priced at the cheaper flight! While I know many people do not love Southwest due to no business/first class cabins, no assigned seats, etc., I personally love them due to the flexibility it has allowed me over the years.

When you book on points and need to change, cancel, re-price a flight, the points you get back go straight back into the account they were booked from. But, if you pay for your flight, and you are owed a credit, you will receive a travel fund voucher. Three scenarios when you’ll receive a travel fund voucher:

  • If you need to cancel your flight, the entire price paid will be given back to you as a voucher
  • If you need to change your flight and the new flight is less expensive then the existing flight, you will get the difference back as a voucher
  • If a flight you already have goes down in price and you re-price it out to the lower price, you’ll get the difference back as a voucher (read: Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price)

Once you receive a travel fund voucher, you will have up to a year from the time the flight was originally booked to use the voucher. The voucher is non-transferable and must be booked for the passenger whom the flight was already booked for.

Using the voucher is quite easy, but Southwest doesn’t do the best job explaining how to actually use it. The voucher is tied to the confirmation number from the original flight. For example, if you booked a flight from Boston to Baltimore for $190 under confirmation number 123456, you will receive $190 back as a travel fund voucher. When you go to book your flight later on and actually redeem your voucher, you will use that exact same confirmation number 123456. You will enter this number on the passenger and payment information page.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 3.04.35 PMIf you scroll down on the page, about half way through you’ll see the “Do You Want To Apply Travel Funds?” section. Click the “Apply Funds” button and additional information will appear which is displayed on the screen shot below.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 3.05.40 PMIn the first box titled “Travel Funds” enter the confirmation number from where the travel funds came from, i.e., 123456. Also enter the passengers first and last name and click the “Apply Funds” button again. You’ll then see that the amount of the voucher has been applied to your new ticket.

BIG WARNING: You’ll notice in tiny little print that Southwest gives this disclaimer that states “All nonrefundable funds applied toward the purchase of a new reservation remain nonrefundable. The new reservation inherits the earliest expiration date from any funds applied.” What this means is that any amount over the voucher that you pay will inherit the expiration date of the travel voucher used. So if you need to cancel the new flight, the new amount paid will expire less than a year from when this ticket is purchased. It will expire at the same time as the travel fund voucher that was used.

Example: The travel fund voucher applied is $190 and expires October 1, 2015. On June 1, 2016 you book a new reservation for $300 using the voucher and paying the difference of $110. The new confirmation number for this reservation is 987654. If you need to cancel this reservation you will get $300 back in a travel fund voucher (tied to confirmation number 987654) and the entire amount will expire October, 2015, not June 1, 2016. This means that the extra $110 paid will expire pretty quickly and not be given the full 12 months to use.

Make sure to keep this in mind when making a reservation using travel funds. I know many people have gotten hosed with this rule so I want to make sure you are aware prior to using any travel funds. However, 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.

Related credit card to earn Southwest points: There are three different version of the cards, two personal and one business. The main difference is the annual fee and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog post.

This series contains everything you need to know about Southwest:

  1. Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
  2. Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
  3. Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
  4. Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
  5. Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
  6. Transferring Points to Southwest
  7. Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
  8. Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
  9. Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
  10. Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. What happens if there are multiple people on one reservation?

    I just re-booked a reservation for 4 people, original price $215 per person, new price $202 per person.

    Can I use the total savings of $52 for a future flight for just one of the people on the reservation?

    Thanks as always for your insight!

    • @Chris – I still believe it is still the individual amount per passenger. With that being said, I haven’t personally experiencing that situation (since I usually book on points), but I will try to find out the definite answer.

  2. I was delayed on flight to Denver from SFO. The flight was delayed do to schedule problems. I fly SWA quote offer! The message by SWA was low ceiling. No way! I think the flight to Denver should be free! Flight 1553! Thank you!

  3. So I got a voucher ticket last year in end of June because our flights got canceled and it would expire this June, but I am wondering if I can use it to buy tickets now for future flights that’s after the end of June, is that allowed? Please let me know asap! Thanks!

    • I found out the hard way you can’t use them at the end of June. However they will give you the price of the ticket back minus $100 once it’s expired if you call customer service.

  4. I’m stuck with a bunch of tickets for varying amounts that all expire in the same date? (Most are under $100 each.) Can I get them all extended for one flat fee?

  5. I have numerous cancelled nonrefundable tickets in my name that expire on the same date. None of them are over $100 but in all they total over $300. If I ask for an extension of the expiration date, is it per ticket? Or would they extend all of these for one fee?

    • @CBL – I would call Southwest customer service and ask if there is anything they can do for you. Make sure to talk to customer service and not reservations.

  6. Very useful info, but would like your input for clarification. I received a voucher for $340.60 on July 25th, 2015. Must I USE (ie complete my flight) on or before the voucher by July 25, 2016, or must I only book future travel by July 25, 2016? (ie – can i book a flight for September 1, 2016 using this voucher)?

    Thanks for your clarification

  7. Are you able to use the value of a voucher on multiple flights? I have 2 vouchers worth $356 but my current flights are much less than that. Can I use a voucher more than once (like to book 2 $175 flights?)

    Thanks!

  8. My friend and I each have a $100 voucher from our flight being cancelled due to mechanical problems.
    We are planning a trip in October.
    Can I purchase both tickets or do we have to purchase them individually.

  9. This has not been an easy process of trying to get my voucher!! I was told that I had to wait for my ticket to expire to receive a voucher, which I did. My ticket expired end of March so I called early April. They took all of my information and assured me that I would receive a voucher in a month or two. Called back two more times and they couldn’t tell me anything because they aren’t able to look up the status of my request, so basically just keep waiting. It is now August and I have NEVER received anything and my voucher expires in September! I have spent two hours on hold trying to talk to someone only to get hung up on. So I called again and an automated system tells me that they will call me back in 72 minutes. I will now continue to pursue my voucher (which is for $100 less than I paid for the ticket). Not really expecting to get anything from Southwest Airlines but I will know that I did what was in my power to try.

  10. I have 2 vouchers valued at 500 dollars total. I could make the initial flight before the year expiration but not the return flight. Is that OK? Also, I want to take a friend with me but the original ticket is in my name. Can I use it to buy my ticket and hers? Thanks! Not wanting the voucher to go to waste.

    • @Carol – I believe all travel must be completed by the expiration date. Unfortunately, travel vouchers are only valid for the persons name on the voucher. You can call Southwest Relations (not reservations) and they might be able to help you. Typically they will deduct $100 to extend the voucher for a year. Do both vouchers expire on the same date?

  11. Southwest told me that I couldn’t use my voucher for my marine son who was returning home for a visit. They said I had to be the passenger since the four previous tickets were booked using my personal credit card. Our family went out to san diego for graduation and we had 4 tickets in each persons name. We stayed a day later so the return flight was $50 cheaper for a total voucher of $200. Doesn’t seem right that I couldn’t use it for my son since I own the voucher.

    • @Paula – Unfortunately that is correct. Southwest vouchers are non-transferrable. They can only be used for the same person who the flight was originally booked for. You can call Southwest Customer Care and depending on the circumstances they might be able to do something for you. Explain that he is a marine and currently in service.

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