Many travelers received flight credits, either in the mail or electronically, after canceling or postponing a trip from 2020, according to Kurt Knutsson, The Cyber Guy. An estimated 20 million vouchers are available, and “those are adding up to an estimated $10 billion in future airline credits now set to expire,” he warned.
Customers are now scrambling to use their credits before they become useless, but due to the recent increase in travel and capacity restrictions, it’s been challenging to work with the airlines.
|ALK||ALASKA AIR GROUP||65.61||-3.14||-4.57%|
Many call centers have long wait times, including Alaska Airlines, which posted warnings on its website telling customers its lines are backed up.
Credits usually expire after a year, but “many airlines extended the typical twelve months to use it or lose it,” Knutsson added.
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||43.99||-2.11||-4.58%|
"The company refunded more than $3 billion to customers in 2020 and extended the use of certain travel credits through December 2022 to provide additional flexibility to customers," according to an SEC filing.
|AAL||AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP, INC.||20.07||-1.48||-6.87%|
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||43.98||-2.12||-4.60%|
Southwest Airlines, on the other hand, will extend credits to September 7, 2022, but only for flights planned from March 1 through Sept. 7 of last year. The downside is, "once you rebook it, it's going to reset the clock, and that's going to expire a lot sooner," Knutsson said.
|LUV||SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.||59.69||-2.35||-3.79%|
To prevent losing your airline credits and track the money owed to you from the airlines, Knutsson offers some advice.
How to save your airline credits
1. Check the fine print of credits and vouchers
The expiration date is usually the day it was ticketed, not the day you were set to fly.
2. Screenshot the credit from the airline site for your records
Save a picture of the credit, so it's easily accessible for future use.
3. Add the expiration date to a calendar reminder
Save the date and set a reminder for 30 days before the credit is set to expire. You can add your screenshot to the calendar reminder as well.
ExpertFlyer, an airline information website, shows the flight availability for all airlines. Instead of selling you only see the flights they want you to choose, the site allows you to see the raw data for each flight.
The Miles Guy is another great tool if you are looking for first- and business-class award travel options, which are usually difficult to find. You only pay a fee once The Miles Guy finds the flight you want to purchase.