Southwest Airlines has a policy where “unused, fully refundable tickets that do not carry restrictions may be applied toward future travel or refunded within one year from the date of issue.” Unfortunately, something this policy doesn’t state is that you apparently lose that entire credit if even a small portion of that original ticket was purchased using an old credit.
Consumerist reader Robert shares his story:
I purchased a ticket on Southwest three weeks ago that cost $140, but did not use the ticket. Southwest’s advertised policy is that unused funds spent on tickets are good for one year from the date of purchase towards another flight without any change fee.
When I went to use the funds, I was told they had expired. The reason I was given was that I applied a $10 credit from a prior flight which had by now expired. I conceded that the $10 had expired, but was puzzled as to why the additional $130 which I had very recently spent would also be forfeited. The only reason that they could muster is that their “system” uses the oldest expiration date of all the funds applied. I told them that if they could see that I spent $130 three weeks ago, I should be able to use those funds today according to their widely advertised policy.
After this conversation, I looked very carefully at all the fine print in all the emails from southwest and all the fine print on the booking pages that one clicks through when booking a ticket and found no mention of any policy (to which I agreed to) that would put the additional $130 in jeopardy because the original $10 had expired.
Repeated calls to Southwest “customer service” and “customer relations” only resulted in call center operators parroting this policy (to which I had never agreed) to me over and over again. The individual agents did concede that (a) this invisible policy makes no conceptual sense and (b) I should probably just take my business elsewhere in the future because Southwest seems to care more about stealing my $130 than keeping me as a customer and getting a lifetime’s worth of business.
We’ve reached out to Southwest to see if anyone can clarify this policy and let us know whether or not Robert is being given correct information. We’ll update as soon as we hear something from the airline.