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United just announced that it will be extending the validity of travel funds for up to two years from the issue date, which is an increase of one year.
These travel funds will be extended regardless of when they were issued.
This is a dramatic change and it is the result of two things I believe.
First, the DOT recently came down on airlines and demanded them to offer refunds if they did not offer those to customers in the past.
Presumably, United will try to persuade customers to opt for travel funds now that they will have a longer validity period. (I do have to admit that adding an additional year to travel all funds is a pretty valuable change.)
Also, airlines are strapped for cash these days and so by making travel funds more appealing, they can increase the cash flow they currently have.
Original article 4/3/20:
The airlines and hotels are constantly making modifications to their cancellation and change policies in order to respond to the ongoing pandemic threat that we all face. For example, Southwest just decided to allow refunds for its Earlybird check in fee after initially refusing to do so.
The latest airline to make a move is Delta, which just made a massive change to its change policy for coronavirus impacted flights.
If your travel has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, you may be able to change your flight for free for up to two years.
Normally, a ticket will expire one year after the purchase date. However, Delta is providing waived change fees and greater flexibility to travel through May 31, 2022, for customers who:
- Have upcoming travel already booked in April or May 2020 as of April 3, 2020
- Have existing eCredits or canceled travel from flights in March, April or May 2020
Meanwhile, new tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020, can be changed without a change fee for up to a year from the date of purchase. So you still get the free change but you just don’t get the two-year extension.
These changes mean that if you have travel currently scheduled for April or May (as of today, April 3rd), or you have canceled travel/eCredits from March, April, or May, you can reschedule a flight for sometime as far out as May 2022 without paying a fee.
Of course, you will have to wait for those schedules to become available to take full advantage of this new timeline.
I believe this timeframe is an indication that airlines are anticipating a return to travel over a pretty long time span. It’s very possible that flying will not get back to normal until mid to late 2021, and I think that some airlines are starting to realize this and making change policies in light of that reality.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.