Southwest Airlines offers a heaping helping of “LUV” to its flyers. Many of its policies are generous and unique, such as free checked bags, ways to get seats at no cost, and even their free drinks! When you pay for your flights, Southwest offers various forms of payment options: Southwest travel funds, LUV vouchers, and Southwest gift cards. These payment choices can be confusing with their different rules. So let’s dig in, clear up any confusion, and learn everything you need to know about Southwest travel funds, LUV vouchers, and Southwest gift cards.
Breaking It Down:
What Are Southwest Travel Funds?
Under certain circumstances that we will get into more detail below, Southwest issues credit-like refunds for flights. Those refunds become a refunded credit and are now called Southwest travel funds. Travel funds will be issued when you cancel a flight or are a “no show” for a flight (didn’t show up for your flight).
Southwest travel funds are not to be confused with Southwest vouchers, or any balances you might hold on Southwest gift cards.
Credits For Cancelling a Southwest Flight
Southwest has a very generous cancellation policy. Depending on the Southwest ticket fare type, you incur no additional fee for changing flights and can cancel a flight up to the date of departure. Cancelling a flight can also result in receiving Southwest travel funds.
Let’s take a look at the different Southwest Airlines fare classes and see how their cancellation travel funds policies differ.
A Southwest Airlines Anytime fare or a Business Select fare allows for cancellation up to 10 minutes prior to departure time. Southwest issues a full refund to the original form of payment on these two fare types. What happens if you don’t cancel your flight and simply don’t show up? Southwest travel funds are issued in place of that refund.
With a Wanna-Get-Away fare ticket you will not receive a full cash refund. If you cancel a Wanna-Get-Away ticket, you receive Southwest travel funds.
PRO TIP: With a Wanna-Get-Away fare ticket, if you are a “no show” and do not show up for your flight, Southwest will not issue a credit and you lose the potential for travel funds.
Do You Receive Travel Funds for Southwest Rapid Rewards Redemptions?
If your ticket was booked using Southwest Rapid Rewards, your Rapid Rewards points will be deposited back into your account. Any taxes and fees paid on your Rapid Rewards flight reservation become reusable travel funds and can be used for a future flight, but ONLY for a ticket for the original person named on the cancelled ticket.
When Do Southwest Travel Funds Expire?
Good question, and one that everyone needs to know the correct answer to!
Southwest travel funds will expire one year from the purchase date (booking date) of the original flight. This is super important for you to remember. Many people automatically think that the expiration date is linked to the date of travel. With Southwest Airlines, this is not the case. Expiration is one year from the date you booked the ticket.
Southwest Airlines does not offer free extensions for the expiration date for travel funds. It is possible, though, that for a fee Southwest will extend the expiration date on your travel funds.
Travel Funds Expiration Date Extension
If you’re willing to pay a $100 reinstatement fee, you might be able to extend the expiration date on travel funds. The travel funds are then converted into LUV vouchers. There are time limits on both how soon you’ll have to request a reinstatement when funds expire, and how soon you’ll have to use the voucher once the reinstatement is done.
The benefit of turning travel funds into a LUV voucher is that you might be able to use this voucher for any traveler, rather than just yourself. Always check with Southwest so you know the current reinstatement rules before spending $100.
How Do Southwest Gift Cards Work?
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).
Southwest gift cards are available for any amount between $10 and $10,000. Are you ordering more than $1,000 in gift cards? If so, you will need to order your gift cards using the Southwest gift card order form.
You can choose to receive your Southwest Airlines gift cards either by email or via mail. If you choose the gift cards by mail option, you pay shipping fees.
Southwest Airlines gift cards make great gifts but note that they cannot be used for certain purchases:
- Southwest Airlines Vacation Packages
- Rental cars
- Southwest Airlines merchandise
- EarlyBird Check-In
- Additional Southwest gift cards
- Inflight purchases
- Southwest LUV Vouchers
Southwest LUV Vouchers
Your Southwest Airlines LUV vouchers can be used as valid forms of payment toward future air fare only on Southwest Airlines through Southwest.com, making reservations by phone at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792), or at any Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter.
Southwest LUV Vouchers are not redeemable towards:
- Government-imposed segment fees
- Excise taxes, Passenger Facility Charges, or September 11th Security Fees
- Miscellaneous charges, Southwest Airlines Group tickets, Southwest Airlines Vacations packages
- Travel either wholly or in part on other airlines
What Are the Rules for Southwest Gift Cards and Vouchers?
As noted in the previous section on travel fund rules, travel funds expire. However, the policy with Southwest gift cards is just the opposite. Gift cards do not expire.
In the case of Southwest LUV Vouchers, though, the vouchers must be redeemed and all travel completed by the expiration date indicated. If you use a Southwest LUV voucher along with other accepted forms of payment, make note of those expiration dates. The earliest expiration date of ALL payments applied to your ticket is the expiration date that counts.
Can you get an extension on a Southwest LUV voucher?
It depends. In the case of an extension on a LUV voucher, Southwest often refuses an extension if the 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 it’s more likely an extension will be granted.
How Do I Check My Southwest Travel Funds?
Checking your travel fund balance is easy when you know how. To check your Southwest travel funds, click here. When you check, make sure you have both your confirmation number and the passengers’ first and last name.
This same link is also good for checking both your balances for any LUV vouchers as well as Southwest gift cards.
Two Tips For Checking Travel Funds
1. Do you have more than one flight on which you earned travel funds? If so, you will have to check each one separately with the confirmation number and passenger name.
2. Don’t hesitate to call Southwest if you are unsure and think you may have more than one ticket that refunded money into your travel fund. Southwest does require you to have your confirmation number, but on occasions when I called Southwest I’ve always found them to be helpful. Sometimes a call is still the best way.
How Do I Use Southwest Travel Funds?
While checking your Southwest travel funds balance may seem complicated the first time you do it, using the funds is quite easy.
Ready to complete the booking and pay for your flight?
You’ll notice one of the choices for how to pay is Travel Funds. Choose that option and enter the confirmation number and passenger name from your unused flight. Remember that you cannot transfer your travel funds to another traveler, so when using travel funds the passenger name must match the name of the traveler on the new flight.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget that for a fee, you can possibly convert travel funds to a LUV voucher. Then you’d be able to use your voucher for any traveler.
I Don’t Have My Southwest Confirmation Number! What do I do?
Don’t stress out. This happens to the best of us. At some point though, Southwest did send you a flight confirmation email when you booked your original flight. That email will have your confirmation number on it.
You might also be able to locate the confirmation number by logging into your Southwest account and checking under the My Trips tab. Your account past activity will show your original ticket purchase.
If all else fails then consider calling Southwest Airlines at 1-800-435-9792 (1-800 I FLY SWA).
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I use travel funds for other purchases?
No. Your travel funds are only available to use on airfare. They cannot be applied to other purchases such as in-flight purchases or Southwest Earlybird options.
Can I convert travel funds into cash?
That would be nice! However, the answer is NO. Once these travel credits have been issued, they remain as travel credits.
My travel funds don’t seem to be working when I try and use them for airfare. What should I do?
It is always possible that when you go to apply your Southwest travel funds, they will not work. If this happens, call Southwest and have them take a look at your account.
How To Earn Southwest Points
It’s easy to earn lots of Southwest points, even without flying! Don’t forget, in addition to credit cards that Southwest offers like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.
Check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (with a fantastic, best-ever 60,000 initial bonus) for a great all-around travel credit card that earns flexible points that can be transferred to Southwest Airlines.
PRO TIP: Did you purchase Southwest Earlybird on your ticket? This is a nonrefundable purchase and you will not receive travel funds for that part of the transaction. To find out more about Southwest EarlyBird, click here.
Southwest Airlines is a quirky airline, for sure. Many of their policies such as not charging for checked bags, being able to change flights, and issuing travel funds are the most generous in the industry. Receiving and then using Southwest travel funds when you must cancel a flight or simply can’t make a flight allows you to keep your funds intact for a later flight.
Southwest does well serving their flyers. Your job as a Southwest flyer, however, is to make sure you stay aware of their policies and keep track of any expiration dates on travel funds so they don’t go to waste!
- What Exactly Is A Southwest “Wanna Get Away” Fare?
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