A flight credit is a voucher given to customers for either a canceled flight or a downgrade in fare, which they can use to buy a future flight.
Providing credits for canceled or delayed flights has been a long-standing policy, but Southwest’s elimination of its expiration date is a first among major U.S. airlines.
The Dallas-based airline recently announced more than $2 billion intended for customer experience improvements, said Ryan Green, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.
“While other airlines eliminate benefits and value, today we’re enhancing our experience again,” he said.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan is working to simplify the air-travel experience for its customers.
The “Flight credits don’t expire” policy offers customers “definitive simplicity and ease in travel,” said Jordan.
He mentioned three other customer-oriented policies that Southwest offers — “Bags fly free,” “No change fees,” and “Points don’t expire” — and said the airline is “a first-in-[its]-industry combination of differentiators that only Southwest offers.”
Before the policy change, customers had to use their flight credits within a year of their original ticket purchase. Now, customers will have unlimited time to take advantage of the credit.
During the pandemic, Southwest extended the time customers had to use their flight credits, said Tony Roach, vice president of customer experience & engagement.
“We repeatedly leaned in during the pandemic to give our customers more time to use their flight credits beyond a full year, which was our previous policy,” he said. “Introducing this change in our policy is part of a massive effort to improve the things that are most important to our customers.”
Any flight credit created on or after July 28, 2022, will not expire, nor will unexpired flight credits issued before that date. However, credits with an expiration date on or before July 27, 2022, are still considered expired and not available for use.
Eligible flight credits will see a placeholder expiration date of December 31, 2040, until Southwest updates its system to accommodate the new policy change.