Pet Peeve: Airline Travel Bank Funds that are Difficult to Use

Good afternoon everyone, I hope your Memorial Day Weekend is going well.  While planning our upcoming trip to Hawaii (and dealing with expensive rental cars), I had to make some airline flight changes and rediscovered my pet peeve regarding airline travel bank funds.  I have run into this issue with Alaska Airlines and JetBlue, but I’m sure the issue exists on other airlines too.  Nick at Frequent Miler ran into a related issue with United Airlines yesterday.

For our original Alaska Airlines flight home from Hawaii, we had a redeye flight from Lihue (LIH) to Los Angeles (LAX).  I decided to use my $300 incidental travel credit from my JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Credit Card to pay for upgraded seats which includes 4 more inches of legroom, a free alcoholic beverage, and early boarding.  The upgraded seats cost $133.99 each for a total of $267.98.

Long story short, we decided to change our travel dates, so we needed to cancel the original reservation and rebook.  I used my Alaska Airlines Companion Fare for this trip, so I called Alaska Airlines to see if they could change our flights.  Unfortunately, I booked a Saver fare, so the only option was to cancel the flight and have the funds put back into my Alaska Airlines wallet.  The Alaska Airlines agent told me that the $267.98 that we paid for upgraded seats would go back into my Alaska Airlines wallet, but couldn’t be used to pay for upgraded seating on a future flight.  The agent also said that the Companion Fare would go back into my Alaska Airlines account in the next few hours.

At the end of the call, the agent said that the reservation was cancelled and that all the funds were now in my Alaska Airlines wallet, including my original airline ticket ($695.59), Laura’s companion ticket ($164.64), and 2 upgraded seats (2 x $133.99).  After I received the Companion Fare back in my account, I booked the new flights I wanted with the funds in my Alaska Airlines wallet but couldn’t use the funds for upgraded seats.  Bummer :(

Up next, I used 6,000 JetBlue points per person to book 2 award seats on Hawaiian Airlines to travel from Kona (KOA) to Lihue (LIH).  The original flight was scheduled to depart Kona at 8:09am.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Hawaiian Airlines had a schedule change and changed the flight from 8:09am to 5:00pm (9 hours later).

I researched other flight options, but this was the only nonstop flight between Kona and Lihue.  We decided to fly the 5pm flight a few days earlier, so I called JetBlue to switch to the new flight.  After a 2 hour wait, I explained the situation to the JetBlue rep and they transferred me to the interline booking department.  I explained the situation to the interline booking rep and they said they would need to cancel the existing reservation and book a new reservation.  Unfortunately, the $11.20 in taxes/fees that we paid for the original flight would go into my JetBlue travel bank, but I couldn’t use the $11.20 from the JetBlue travel bank because the “travel credit may be used toward JetBlue airfare and taxes, the air portion of a JetBlue Vacations package, and any applicable increase in airfare for changes.”  Since this was a Hawaiian Airlines flight, I would need to pay for the $11.20 with a credit card.  Bummer :(

I’m sure there are valid reasons why travel bank funds have specific / limited uses (probably to dissuade members from actually using the travel bank funds), but it is frustrating that you cannot use the travel bank funds for seat upgrades, early boarding, checked bags, or to pay for flights on partner airlines.  Does anyone else get frustrated trying to use your travel bank funds?  If you have any questions about using travel bank funds, please leave a comment below.  Have a great Memorial Day Weekend everyone!

8 thoughts on “Pet Peeve: Airline Travel Bank Funds that are Difficult to Use

  1. Carol

    I’m not sure you are the best authority on airline travel if you are having these issues. Ever try to figure out what happens when or if…

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Carol, you’re definitely right, I’m no authority on airline travel, but I wanted to share my thoughts and reactions to normal travel mishaps. Would you have done anything differently?

  2. Tonei Glavinic

    Idk if it’s worth fighting over but given the 9h schedule change I would think B6 is obligated to give you a refund on that one…

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Tonei, I think you’re right. I didn’t even consider asking JetBlue for a refund. I think I’m a little rusty on booking travel and dealing with these schedule change issues.

  3. Debit

    United does not allow combining electronic travel credit and travelbank funds. And if you refund a flight bought with travel bank funds they refund to electronic travel credit. And these can be used only on united marketed and operated flights. United wants breakage so that you can’t use your funds. I steal blankets from united flights every chance i get even if i have no use for them.

    Fuck scott kirby. Bastard didn’t keep middle seat empty. All about money for that a-hole.

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Debit, United does a good job of making it hard to redeem their electronic travel credit and travel bank funds. I’m sure the breakage is high on those payments.


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