Southwest Travel Funds (Expiration, How to use, Etc.) [2020]

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Sometimes you need to cancel a flight or you just flat out miss a flight with Southwest. In those instances, all hope is not lost and all of your value is not lost either. That is because you will likely be issued Southwest travel funds (depending on the type of ticket that you purchased).

In this comprehensive article, I will show you everything you need to know about Southwest travel funds. I’ll discuss how you get them, how to use them, and important details like when they expire. I will also touch on gift cards and LUV vouchers for added clarification.


What are Southwest travel funds?

Southwest travel funds are special funds that usually get issued when you are given a refunded credit for your Southwest flight. Southwest travel funds are different from gift card balances and Southwest LUV vouchers and I’ll discuss those below for added clarification.

Tip: If you’re looking to cut down on your airline expenses, consider getting a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. It offers an early spend bonus worth $500 in travel after meeting the minimum spend and is great to cancel out all sorts of travel expenses like Uber. 


How to get Southwest travel funds

Typically, you will get Southwest travel funds whenever you cancel a flight or you fail to show up for a flight (a “no show”).

One of the most common ways to get Southwest travel funds is to receive a credit for your canceled flight.

Southwest Airlines has one of the most generous cancellation policies out of any major airline in the US. They allow you to change your flights with no additional fee (up to 1 hour prior to departure) and allow you to cancel your flight up to 10 minutes prior to the departure time.

Anytime fare or a Business Select fare

If you purchased an Anytime fare or a Business Select fare then you can cancel up to 10 minutes prior to the departure time and receive a full refund. However, if you fail to cancel your flight you will be issued Southwest travel funds in place of that refund.

Wanna-Get-Away fare

If you purchased a Wanna-Get-Away fare you are not allowed to receive a full cash refund. Instead, you will receive Southwest travel funds whenever you cancel your ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure. But keep in mind that if you fail to show up for your flight and don’t cancel your ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure, you will not be issued any type of credit at anytime and you will lose all of your travel funds. 

Award reservations

If you had an award reservation then your Rapid Rewards will be deposited back into your account. However, any taxes and fees associated with your reward travel reservation will be held for future use in the form of reusable travel funds under the name of the traveler(s).

Also keep in mind that if you purchase Southwest EarlyBird, that is a nonrefundable purchase and you will not receive travel funds for that. To find out more about Southwest EarlyBird click here.


2020 Coronavirus travel funds update 

If you purchased a nonrefundable fare (such as a Wanna-Get-Away fare) for travel between March 1 and September 7, 2020 and you cancel your flight “in accordance with Southwest’s No Show Policy,” you will receive travel funds good through September 7, 2022.


Southwest gift cards

Southwest gift cards can be purchased from the Southwest website at anytime or you can purchase them via phone by calling Southwest Airlines at 1-800-IFLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).

You can choose any amount between $10 dollars and $10,000 dollars so the range is quite extreme. (Orders exceeding $1,000 can be made by printing the Southwest gift card order form and following the directions provided.)

You can also choose to have these gift cards delivered via email, or you can have them sent via mail. But note that if you were getting them sent via the mail, you will have to pay the shipping fees. If you prefer, you can also expedite the shipping of these gift cards.

A Southwest gift card is NOT valid for the purchase of:

  • Southwest Airlines Vacation Packages
  • Cargo
  • Hotels
  • Rental cars
  • Southwest Airlines Merchandise
  • EarlyBird Check-In
  • Additional Southwest gift cards
  • In-flight purchases

Southwest LUV Vouchers

Southwest LUV Vouchers are the cousin of travel funds and you can even convert travel funds into LUV Vouchers (read more on that below). 

LUV Vouchers are valid as a form of payment toward future airfare only on Southwest Airlines through Southwest.com, toll-free Reservations 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792), or at any Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter.

Southwest LUV Vouchers are not redeemable as:


When do Southwest travel funds expire?

Southwest travel funds will expire one year from the purchase date (booking date) of the original flight. This is a huge thing to know because some people assume that the expiration date is one year from the date of travel, which is not the case.

Southwest Airlines does not offer free extensions for the expiration date for travel funds. However, you still might be able to get them to extend the expiration date of your travel funds. This will likely come at a cost of though.

Travel funds expire date extension

Many people extend the expiration date for their travel funds after paying a $100 reinstatement fee. The travel funds are then converted into LUV vouchers when the reinstatement takes place.

You may only have 6 months to request the reinstatement and you must make your request after your travel funds expire. Also, the LUV voucher may only be valid for 6 months from issue so inquire about its expiration date. 

Sometimes Southwest has reduced the value of the travel funds when they are reinstated so be on the lookout for that.

The good thing about getting a LUV voucher is that you should be able to use that for anybody. So in some instances, it could be very well worth it to pay $100 so that you can apply those funds to a different traveler. 

If your funds have already expired, then I highly suggest that you call and inquire about all of the above possibilities. If the phone representative is not willing to budge, then I suggest that you try calling back later and speaking with another representative.

Note that it is possible that the policies regarding reinstated travel funds are subject to change at anytime so always be prepared for alternative measures!

What about gift cards and vouchers?

Unlike Southwest travel funds, the gift cards do not expire.

However, Southwest LUV Vouchers must be redeemed and all travel completed by the expiration date indicated. If applied in conjunction with any other accepted form(s) of payment, the earliest expiration date of all payments applies.

Southwest will often grant extensions for LUV vouchers but will usually refuse an extension if that LUV voucher was received as a result of getting an extension from your travel funds expiration date. However, if you were given a LUV voucher because of some sort of customer service issue, then you will likely be granted at least one extension for the expiration date.


How to check/view your Southwest travel funds

If you would like to check the status of your Southwest travel funds then simply log-in to your Southwest account and then click on “My Account.” You will then see “My travel funds” at the top and you’ll just need to click on “View Travel Funds.” 

You can also do so by clicking here. You will need to have your confirmation number and the passengers first and last name. On that website, you can also check the balance of your Southwest gift card and vouchers.

If you do not have your flight details, you might run into some resistance because Southwest does state that you need this information to look up your travel funds:

Customers calling Southwest to request a refund or to research travel funds for a specific ticket must provide their confirmation number, ticket number or flight information (date, origin and destination).


How to use and apply Southwest travel funds

It is very simple to use your Southwest travel funds.

When you are getting ready to complete the booking of your flight, you should see a button on the checkout screen under the Payment method window for Travel Funds. You will want to click that and then enter in the confirmation number and passenger name from the reservation of the canceled or unused flight.

Keep in mind that the passenger name must match the name of the traveler on the new flight perfectly. You cannot use Southwest travel funds for someone else. You also cannot transfer your travel funds to someone else.

As Southwest states:

Travel Funds from an unused or cancelled reservation may only be applied toward the purchase of future travel for the individual named on the ticket.

But keep in mind the possible exception where you convert your travel funds into LUV vouchers. That route comes with a cost and some risk, but if it works out it can be a way to get around the transferability rule.


What if I can’t locate my confirmation number?

If you do not know your confirmation number, then try to search your inbox for Southwest emails. You should have been given an email at the time of booking containing your confirmation number. The subject line will usually state “Your reservation is confirmed.”

You might also be able to locate the confirmation number by logging into your Southwest account and clicking on your past activity which you find under “My Trips.”

If all else fails then consider calling the following phone number: 1-800-435-9792 (1-800 I FLY SWA).


Can I use travel funds for other purchases?

You should note that you can only use these funds for airfare. They cannot be applied for other purchases like in-flight purchases, Southwest Earlybird, and other random airline incidentals.

Update: They can be used for Southwest vacation packages.


Can you convert travel funds into cash?

A lot of people don’t have use for their travel funds and they want to know if they can convert the travel funds into cash money.

The answer to this question is no. If Southwest allowed customers to do that, it would honestly defeat the entire purpose of issuing travel credits in the first place so it is understandable that they do not allow this.


What to do if the funds are not working?

It is possible that when you go to apply your Southwest travel funds that they will not work. If that is the case, then I suggest calling up Southwest right away and explaining to them that you believe that you have travel funds that should be applied and that they are not working during the checkout process.


Final word

Southwest is one of the most generous airlines when it comes to changing flights and canceling your flights. Receiving Southwest travel funds for your cancellations and no show instances can be a great way to not miss out on a lot value. Just make sure that you stay on top of tracking the expiration date for your funds so that you properly use them in time.

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15 comments

  1. Hi, I tried to get my travel funds reinstated within the 6months period(by deducting 100), but they were not ready to do it, I have an other travel funds which is about to expire, I booked something and cancelled due to the corona virus scare, though I explained my situation about it, they were not ready to do it.I have been traveling via southwest from past 10 years, even though they were not ready to do it.They would have updated the funds on the app long back.Its so confusing with so many promotional emails from southwest.

  2. I have 2 travel funds, one of them got expired in dec2019, and the other one is expiring on march 22nd 2020.So I requested for both.

  3. Question that may be very pertinent to this. I had small amount of travel funds to use ($20) which were expiring on 8/15/20. I just applied those to a new flight I just purchased last month (say 2/15/20). With the COVID-19 situation prices continue to drop and I noticed the new flight now is $34 less so I changed to get that $34 credit.

    However, now when I look at my Travel funds, I do see the $34, but the expiry date is 8/15/20 (not 2/14/21 which is what I was expecting). It appears since I used that old Travel fund of $20, it is now applying that original expiry date to my new Travel funds. Is this how it should work? I could not find anything on this but it is important to know. It may not be worth to use those small travel fund amounts if they are expiring soon since any future larger credit you may get won’t have a long life.

    I would be surprised that SWA would do this (the ticket I bought on 2/15 was $200 – so saying that when I applied that $20 travel fund to it, making that original ticket date be the new expiration date seems silly).

    Thanks.

    1. I have the same issue. On 2/20/2020 I booked a flight for this coming weekend using a credit card and a small travel fund balance that was set to expire on 7/16/2020. I’ve now cancelled that flight for obvious reasons, but the website shows the full amount (not the just the amount on the original travel fund) expires on 7/16/2020. Is this a glitch, or by design? If it’s supposed to work like that, then like the other poster wrote, be careful if you book a flight using a combination of travel funds and credit card…if you cancel that flight, you won’t get a full year credit on the amount you paid by credit card…

  4. I recently (March 13,2020) had to make a change in travel. I did not have a computer access and call wait times were in excess of 90 minutes. I COULD NOT use my travel funds on the SOUTHWEST Android app. That is such a huge limitation. I could not load a desktop site on my phone.

    Travelers should be aware of the limitation in using Travel Funds is ONLY AVAILABLE via the FULL SOUTHWEST.COM desktop site. Not their mobile app.

    Southwest “should” fix this arbitrary limitation.

  5. Excellent information! I canceled my trip last week due to the virus. I had purchased two tickets. When I book my next flight, I will obviously use the travel funds for my ticket. Will I be able to use those travel funds for the other person’s ticket…….she had a ticket on the canceled flight? I tried to call the airline for this question, but the wait time was long.

  6. Travel funds are credited back to the passenger name on the original ticket. No one may use that credit except the original passenger.
    So if you bought three tickets for three different passengers, then each passenger will have a separate credit listed under their Specific name And under that confirmation code.

  7. If you have travel funds that expire June 1, 2020 to you have to actually fly by June 1, 2020 or just book your next trip by then?

  8. I do not understand why if I pay for tickets for other family members and they can’t be used, why I can not get the voucher back in my account? It really just doesn’t seem fair!

  9. I purchased tickets for travel for my wife and me to fly to Hawaii last October. Due to personal reasons we could not go at that time. I promised my wife I would take her this past spring but due to the Covid outbreak you are not allowed to travel to Hawaii without quarantining for 2 weeks. My funds expire in October 2020 so basically I will lose my money unless I use the funds for other travel which I do not want to do until the Covid risk lessens. We are elderly and have other health problems so SWA is basically telling us to travel somewhere we don’t need or want to go and in the process risk our lives. What an airline!! By the way I have taken over 700 flights on SWA over the years and have been a loyal customer. As a result I will fly SWA as little as possible in the future. This will be easier now as all the other major airlines have done away with their change fees as well.

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