We’re getting close to the end of the year (can you believe it?) so I’ve been getting tons of emails from readers who don’t want to lose the value of their travel vouchers, like this one from Sandy G.

“I have credits from a one way flight I cancelled 2 years ago on Alaska Airlines. Today I received an email with this statement: “We see you have some credits in your wallet that will expire at the end of the year.. To make sure you don’t miss out, book your trip by Decembe‌r 3‌1, 202‌1. As a note, travel can take place up to 11 months later, including travel in 202‌2.. With new destinations and low fares, now is a great time to book travel with us.. We’ve eliminated change fees on Main and First Class fares, making travel even more flexible.”

Sandy told me she has no plans right now to fly to Alaska in the next year and wants to know: “What is the best course of action to make sure I do not lose those credits?”

First of all, it was mighty nice of Alaska Airlines to send you this reminder email because I have credits from multiple airlines and none of them have sent me any. So everyone who was given a travel credit or voucher should do themselves a favor right now and look at the expiration date. It most likely expires on December 31 and time is running out.

Alaska brought up a great tip in their email to Sandy when they wrote: “To make sure you don’t miss out, book your trip by Decembe‌r 3‌1, 202‌1. As a note, travel can take place up to 11 months later, including travel in 202‌2.” So if you have a voucher that is about to expire, call the airline and find out the rules. Chances are they’re going to be like Alaska and let you book a trip for the future.

But not all. I have vouchers for me and my family from an American Airlines (AA) flight that expires in March. I called AA reservations and the agent said because these tickets were purchased before the pandemic, they have to be used by March, not just booked by March, meaning we have to take a trip by March.

Like Sandy, we have no plans right now to fly on American before the deadline so I’m sending an email to American’s executives through AA.com as I was instructed to do by the agent. We’ll see if they grant me an extension.

As for Sandy, I suggested she do the same. If Alaska won’t extend her voucher, then I would book a flight for when she thinks she might travel and then postpone it again since there’s no change fee. Just make sure Alaska will allow you to postpone the flight again. For this, you’ll need to call and speak to a knowledgeable agent.

Another trick is to book a flight when you think there’s a good chance of a flight getting canceled (like a few days before a major storm is brewing or a flight that is notorious for getting canceled). If the flight is canceled, you can get your money back in full. Cha-ching.

There’s nothing more frustrating than when you give an airline your money and they don’t want to give it back to you under reasonable circumstances. Just remember: If an airline cancels your flight, don’t settle for a credit. By law, they have to give you your money back, including international carriers as long as the flight was operating to, from or through the USA. I wrote a post about how Air Canada refused to return my money last year, the details of which you can read here.

I hope this helps!

7 Comments On "Important: Do This Now So Airlines Don’t Keep Your Money"
  1. Charlie|

    Yes, especially check with the individual airline. A friend of mine has credits with SWA and they have been firm in telling her that travel MUST BE “COMPLETED” by the expiration date of the credit, not just scheduled by.

  2. Denis Dyson|

    Hi Johnny – what is the DOT Form number to record a complaint against an Airline for refund non-compliance?
    many thanks, Denis

  3. Carol|

    I am a LONG TIME subscriber to your newsletter. I find it extremely annoying these days to be hit with your signup invitation EVERY TIME I click in to read
    Your daily posts! Cannot proceed further without dealing with it! How many times do you want a subscriber to sign on?

    Move it to the end of your post. That a new reader will have read your content and be more inclined to want more! Bingo! New subscriber

    Thank you!

    1. Johnny Jet|

      I agree! I will ask my tech guy to change it ASAP! Thanks for the feedback

  4. Vikas Chaudhary|

    How about schedule changes? AA Changed my schedule twice, booked through priceline DEL-JFK. Can I ask for refund instead of credit?

    1. Johnny Jet|

      If your arrival time is more than two hours they should.

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