United Airlines is giving customers added flexibility by extending the eligibility of unused tickets purchased amid the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of next year.
“For most tickets, future flight credit must be used for travel within 12 months of the date your original ticket was issued. Future flight credits issued on or before December 31, 2021, will be valid until December 31, 2022. Partially used tickets will be valid for one year from your outbound date of travel,” the airline’s policy states.
The decision mirrors that of rival Delta Air Lines, whose policy states that “for additional flexibility, all tickets expiring in 2021 and all-new tickets purchased in 2021 will expire on December 31, 2022.”
Meanwhile, American Airlines customers with a ticket that expired between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, can redeem the value of that ticket through March 31, 2022.
Southwest Airlines, a fan favorite among travelers for never charging fees to change or cancel flights, announced a COVID-19 exception to its policy that typically allows unused tickets to expire 12 months from the date they were booked.
“Any travel fund with an expiration date beyond one year (i.e. any funds that were extended to September 7, 2022, during the height of the pandemic) that is applied to a new ticket and then canceled will have an expiration date 12 months from the date of purchase of the new ticket,” the carrier states. “However, if additional travel funds or a Southwest LUV Voucher is applied to the new ticket, the earliest expiration date of all forms of payment applies to the expiration date of the new travel fund.”
This means that if a customer used a travel fund that expires September 7, 2022, to book a ticket on March 1, 2021, and later canceled that ticket, the new expiration date is March 1, 2022.
JetBlue has issued an extension for tickets purchased through a GDS that is in open status.
“For unused tickets left in open status that was purchased before June 1, 2020, with an original travel date between February 27, 2020, and June 30, 2020, the ticket is valid for exchange until December 31, 2021. Travel must be completed by June 30, 2022,” according to the Jetblue Cancellation policy. “Tickets issued after June 1, 2020, will expire 12 months from their date of issue.”
For Spirit Airlines customers, reservation credits issued from March 2020 to July 27, 2021, are redeemable for trips booked by December 31, 2021, on any flight available in the airline’s system.
While most carriers went all-in on flexibility last year during the height of the pandemic, many have begun reinstating change and cancellation fees, and as demand for air travel picks up, travelers should stay updated on their specific airline’s current policy to ensure their unused tickets don’t go to waste.