How 100,000+ Southwest Points Went Missing (And Then Recovered)

by Bill Shuman

This year has been a whirlwind for my family in the travel department. Over the first seven months of the year, I spent over 70 nights on the road and as a teacher, my job requires no travel.

I was in Atlantic City, Vegas, Tunica, Biloxi, Chicago, Rochester, Kona, Yosemite, and Orlando and Disney. During that whole time, I paid for all of our flights for my family and I totally on points without spending any cash outside of a few pesky dollars in taxes and fees.

My go to carrier for over 90% of those flights? Southwest, of course.

Therefore, when over 100,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points went missing from our account a few weeks ago, it didn’t take long to notice!

Background On My Southwest Bookings

Whenever Southwest extends their booking calendar to open up new dates, my wife and I use our bank of Rapid Rewards points to book a handful of flights for the new months.

Usually, we take those flights and but sometimes life happens and we have to cancel. Thankfully, due to Southwest’s more than generous cancellation policy, our points are refunded to our accounts and our taxes and fees are refunded back to my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Related: Why I Always Book  Flights With My Chase Sapphire Reserve

As my wife and I welcomed our second son into the world in October, our travels had to slow down considerably. However, with the holidays approaching, and many family members eager to meet the little one, we knew we needed to book some flights.

We booked a handful of flights over the upcoming holiday period with the whole crew.

The newest arrival to the PMTTP family.

As my wife is a companion pass holder, I get to fly for the cost of just the taxes and fees. In addition, our newborn will be a lap child, so there is no cost for him. This means that we only had to book using points for my wife and my eldest son. For those keeping count at home, this is what that looked like:

  • Total flights booked using points = 14
  • Total Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Used = 113,039
  • Flight taxes and fees paid = $21
  • Total Dollars Spent (including a ticket for my oldest son) = $117.60

Related: When should you spend more money on your Southwest flight?

Change Of Plans — Let’s Abort Those Flights

If you’ve ever had children in your home, you know that nothing is set in stone. Well, it didn’t take long for us to figure out that my youngest child is not like my oldest.

The oldest, even as a newborn, was very calm, quiet, and easy going. We felt comfortable putting him on a plane very early on and by the age of two, probably had more miles in the air than your average adult.

We realized that my youngest…um….how do I put this nicely, isn’t quite as calm. Therefore, we decided to spare all of you, our potential fellow passengers, some newborn serenading. Instead, we will be making some longer drives and have family come visit us in Memphis.

As such, on October 15th I went into our Southwest accounts and began cancelling all the flights that we had booked.

Just some of our Southwest flights cancelled cancelled that day.

From previous experience, I usually see the refunded Southwest points back in the account within the hour and sometimes even minutes. This time however, nothing came back.

The Case Of the Missing Southwest Points 

The waiting began to see when the points would reappear. After a day, I figured Southwest might be experiencing some technical issues. A week later, I saw a bunch of points appear in my account and did a silent cheer until upon closer examination, I realized the points came from the sign up bonus on our Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card.

Before I knew it, two weeks time had passed and still no points. Time to call Southwest!

Flights were cancelled on October 15th, but yet there was no activity in the account.

Calling About My Missing Southwest Points

I got connected with a very friendly agent and explained the situation to her. Initially, I was told the points were placed back into the account. Yeah, no…

After some more prodding, I explained to her that my credit card had been refunded, which she agreed with and could see. However, the points from 14 flights were missing. She asked for each individual flight confirmation number. After going through the laborious process of checking on each, against my account balance, the agent agreed that I was owed a considerable balance of points and needed to speak with a supervisor.

After waiting for about 20 minutes for her to return to the line she explained what had happened.

The credit card I had used to book my flights with had expired between when I booked the flights and when I had cancelled them. Apparently, as I had never updated the account with the new expiration date, the points were placed on hold and not sent back automatically. A few moments later, the representative credited back all 113,039 Southwest points to the account.

The Upshot

It’s been two weeks, and frankly the explanation still doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would I get the money back, but not the points? Were too many flights booked and my account was flagged for manual processing?

Either way, this experience serves as a reminder to always double check accounts. Make sure that if your plans change that you get refunded back what you are owed. Maybe unlike me, you’ll do a better job of keeping your cards on file up to date.


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Larry November 14, 2019 - 6:54 am

Just wanted to give some honest and hopefully constructive feedback and say how terrible your new blog design is. I used to come to this site a lot but now it is almost unuseable. Flashing marquees, short timeouts, confusing mishmosh of different categories. You can no longer find anything and when you do it quickly disappears or moves somewhere else. Flashier is not always better. Do your readers a favor and roll it back to something more manageable

Chris Dong November 14, 2019 - 8:36 am

Hey Larry, thanks for reading and for your feedback. Do you mind sending me an email to with some of the issues you’re dealing with? Definitely want to get this sorted.


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