PSA: Southwest Airlines Travel Funds can Only be Used by the Passenger Named on the Ticket

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Grant is the Southwest Airlines maven around here, so you’d think I would know better. But I just had an epic fail with Southwest Airlines and want to save you from making the same mistake and losing money. In my defense, and really there is no defense for letting this happen, I must at least let you know that I rarely fly Southwest Airlines. A while ago, I bought a ticket for a Southwest Airlines flight which I ended up cancelling. That part was easy and the dollar amount was put into a Southwest Airlines travel fund (read How to Cancel Southwest Airlines Flights (Paid or Points) & View Travel Funds).

But these funds do expire, so I was keeping track of the expiration date. I was super close to having the travel funds expire and voila, I had a Southwest Airlines flight I needed to book that I could use my Southwest Airlines travel funds for. But my epic fail was not remembering that the funds can ONLY be used for the individual named on the ticket. That was me! So when I went to book a flight, I wanted to get two tickets (for my 2 friends) and it wouldn’t go through. I couldn’t figure out what the issue was, but Grant knew the answer.

Yes, I know it’s stated on this page where it says this below, but I never read that page on the Southwest Airlines website #thisLUVrulestinks

Note: All travel involving Travel Funds from an unused or cancelled reservation or a Southwest LUV Voucher must be completed by the expiration date. 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.

In the world of rules that make no sense, today this one moves to the top of the list. It is my money after all, and it seems that I “should” be able to spend it on any Southwest Airlines ticket I want (either for myself or for anyone else). So long story short, I’m out $50 which hurts, and wanted to share this word of caution. If you’ve made any Southwest Airlines mistakes you’d like to caution us about, please leave a comment below!

9 thoughts on “PSA: Southwest Airlines Travel Funds can Only be Used by the Passenger Named on the Ticket

  1. askmrlee

    Yes, now you know, but this is not just limited to Southwest. All airlines restrict reuse of a ticket to the named passenger.

    The way around this is to book refundable tickets (which of course are much more expensive). This is one key advantage of Southwest’s Senior and infant fares. They are more expensive than their cheapest Wanna Get Away, but are fully refundable. Infant fares are also refundable, but these are not available online.

    Also, here is another thing to keep in mind that is not very well publicized with Southwest credits.

    Each time you claim a travel funds credit when a fare drops, that change is a credit with its own confirmation number. So each change will result in an individual travel fund credit. You are limited to three forms of payment total per transaction. This means either up to three travel credits, or two travel credits and a credit card.

    I had a Christmas time ticket that over the course of 3 months dropped from $420 to $240. I ended up with 3 travel credits. When I tried to apply them, the system took the two cheapest and not the most expensive one that was $90!.

    An agent was kind enough to consolidate the credits manually so that I could apply these to a ticket but told me that the move to the new reservation system (and my travel happened after the change) was the key reason for this.

    1. shelli

      Thanks so much for these tips and for taking the time to post them. I don’t fly SWA often, but I’m sure learning a lot about how best to use their travel credits. And it does seem inevitable that sooner or later everyone will end up with a travel credit.

  2. Sexy_Kitten7

    I believe you should have refunded to FOP, not their funny money. I absolutely hate WN and will not fly them. Have filed several DOT complaints.

    Here’s my gripe: If you pay with credit/debit can refund to FOP. But if pay with WN GC, funds are trapped in PNR, must be used by same traveller, and must fly by exp date. GCs are a FOP and they have strong legal protections (at least in California). I lost around 20 bucks in TSA fees due to these draconian rules.

    Btw we have CCC this Sat if you’re free.

    1. shelli

      You make good points about some of the rules I don’t like either. And thanks for the tips about where to put refund money. Let us know if any of your DOT complaints get resolved. Appreciate the invite :)

  3. Nathan

    The problem I have is sometimes I don’t get the cancellation email. Especially for a companion. So remember to write down your PNR. I literally just lost a ticket worth $50 this week. No one at Southwest can find it it’s basically lost forever.

    1. shelli

      Sorry to hear about your $50, Nathan. Will absolutely write down all the ticket info. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Pingback: Southwest Refundable Ticket Changes: Refundable No More

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