One of the annoying things about Southwest is that if you book with a voucher and supplement it with another form of payment (credit card, another voucher, etc), if you cancel the flight, all of the funds are bundled together with the earliest expiration date of any of the vouchers. For example, imagine this scenario:
- Today is December 30, 2017.
- You book a flight for July 2018, cost $300.
- You use a $200 LUV voucher, expiring Aug 2018, plus $100 cash via credit card.
- You cancel the flight in May 2018.
You would get a single $300 travel fund that expire Aug 2018. Another annoyance is that vouchers (including travel funds) can only pay for the pre-tax amount. On a domestic round trip ticket I had, the taxes totaled $60. So now you’d have to use the travel fund for a ~$360 ticket in order to use the full value of the fund (and pay the ~$60 tax with cash), and it would have to be before the fund expired in a few months. This is significantly worse than using Southwest points, where points are refunded to your account with no special expiration and taxes are refunded to your credit card.
Well, I think I’ve discovered a way to ease the pain a bit. If you get Southwest to involuntarily cancel the ticket, only the original voucher amount goes to the newly created travel fund, while the cash amount is refunded back to the credit card.
How do you get Southwest to involuntarily cancel your ticket, you ask? Recall that Southwest recently started cancelling overlapping bookings, i.e. multiple bookings that were impossible to complete due to overlapping schedule. For more details, see this Flyertalk thread (note, I haven’t read it beyond the first few posts, but I believe it was one of the first sources of the info). So, book a dummy flight (with points, since those are fully refundable penalty-free) around the same time as the flight you wish to cancel. Wait about 2 days, and one of the overlapping flights will be involuntarily cancelled. If it was the one you wished to cancel, great, you’re done and should see the refunds as described above. Else if the cancelled flight is the dummy one, try again. It seems unpredictable as to which of the overlapping flights gets cancelled; try reading the linked Flyertalk thread in full for potentially more data points.
Here’s my refund. I actually booked a new itinerary without realizing it overlapped with an existing one (that was paid with a voucher) until I received the cancellation notice. The cancelled reservation is one I likely won’t need, so it worked out.
As you can see, the ~$60 I paid with credit card was refunded back to the card.
For the imagined scenario earlier, I believe $200 would be refunded to a travel fund, while the $100 paid with credit card will go back to the card, instead of being tied up in a soon-to-expire travel fund. The expiration date would remain the same, but now you can deplete the travel fund for a $260 flight instead of $360. This would be even more helpful if your cash amount is greater than the voucher amount.
Have you used this trick before?