Passengers who fly Southwest Airlines are in for much more freedom when their trip doesn’t work out as planned. Travelers who need to change or cancel their plans with Southwest have not had to pay any fees to do so for some time. Even travelers who book a non-refundable fare can cancel; they will simply receive a flight credit rather than a refund. The only downside to this was that the flight credit expired after one year, until now. Southwest announced on Thursday that there would no longer be an expiration date for customer’s flight credits, effective immediately.
Flexibility Is King
For Southwest, flexibility for their customers has always been a priority. For years the company has set itself apart by allowing customers to check two bags with no additional fees and allowing passengers to change or cancel their flight up to ten minutes before departure. “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,” said Southwest CEO Bob Jordan in a press release.
Flight Credits Don’t Expire
The new ‘flight credits don’t expire’ policy was implemented as soon as it was announced. Any flight credits that were not already expired by July 28th, 2022, will be included in the new policy. The airline is going to work on its technology systems later this year in order to remove expiration dates from flight credits completely. Until then, customers will see an expiration date of December 31st, 2040, on their flight credits.
Why The Change?
Southwest has been working on overhauling the passenger experience since its announcement in May that it would be spending two billion dollars on a transformation plan. In May, the airline promised to deliver on several fronts, including:
- Adding fast Wi-Fi to every plane
- Adding charging capabilities to every seat
- Making overhead bins larger
- Introduce their new Wanna Get Away Plus fare category
- Enhance onboard entertainment
- Add new self-service options for customers to use
According to Senior Vice President Ryan Green, the airline never intended to stop there. The company says they are constantly looking for ways to improve on items customers care about most. The flexibility to cancel up to ten minutes before a flight and receive a credit that will never expire is undoubtedly high on the list for most travelers. Life happens, and sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Being able to cancel a trip without worrying about monetary loss or expiring credits is a huge stress reliever for many.
Nearly 50% of travelers said that flexible cancellation and rebooking policies were a significant factor in their travel plans for 2022, and Southwest seems to have heard them loud and clear. Southwest is now the only major airline in the United States that offers flight credits with no expiration date. If Covid has proven anything, it’s that travelers should always be prepared for plans to change. This newest policy update from Southwest ensures that travelers will have no problems changing plans for any reason.
What It Means For Travelers
To sum it up in one word, flexibility. Southwest was already one of the most flexible airlines in the U.S. to fly when it came to rebooking or canceling, and now they might be the most flexible. Airbnb host canceled on you at the last minute? Now you can cancel your flight without ever losing your credit. Another benefit to credits that never expire is that travelers looking for the best deal can now virtually guarantee they will get it. Notice that the fare went down in price substantially for an upcoming trip? Now you can cancel your flight, rebook at the lower rate, and save your credit indefinitely for a future trip.
Southwest has certainly been listening to customers, and its latest move to get rid of flight credit expirations is just one example of how it aims to continue adding flexibility and simplicity to its business model. Travelers can rest assured knowing their bookings with Southwest offer the best flexibility of any major U.S. airline.
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