For all the grief US airlines rightfully received for super long hold times and slow refund processes through 2020, at least they did the right thing and extended vouchers on flight tickets. Now we're getting to the point where airlines are turning the corner and cancellations, and rebooking is not the norm. Here we want to share our Top 5 Tips regarding those unused tickets. Please note as travel experts, we can work with you and the airlines to ensure you make the best use of them!
1. E-Credit (above) or Voucher (below)?
How to use airline credits or vouchers to receive full credit is the goal. Each airline has variations and uses similar terms with different conditions and meanings. The biggest issue to look for is who you can or cannot book a flight for with the E-Credit or Voucher, respectively.
If you have a credit coming up to expiry and can't think of what to do with it to protect its value, there is a trick (a little too long to describe here) that can become a much more flexible Voucher and extend its validity. With American Airlines, there is a lesser-used category called a trip credit. Please make contact with us for the inside skinny on all the rules.
2. Book Now to Use the Voucher or E-Credit
Excellent fares are beginning to appear for travel this Fall. My family booked roundtrip tickets to Athens for $900 yesterday for dates in August 2021. I used flight credits from an Easter vacation in April of 2020. I'm hoping I will be able to upgrade it to business class with a systemwide upgrade or a mileage upgrade. Even if you think you might cancel the trip, it is valuable to book the trip and use your credit. The booking terms for most airlines are still extremely reasonable. In most worst-case situations, you can end up with another credit extended into the future. This alternative is more profitable than letting the credit lapse altogether. We know demand will surge in just a few months from now, as vaccination passports and better trends on Covid finally give potential travelers the confidence to return to travel. By waiting until later, you will almost certainly pay higher airfares for most destinations, and airline terms and conditions will also likely tighten back up.
3. Most Airlines Allow Combining an E-Credit with an Awards
Do you have a flight credit, and the rest of your traveling companions' don"t? We can explore booking a discounted business class fare to somewhere you've always dreamed of with the credit. Hint hint, Greece (below) is reopening May 14th!
Ask us to check for award availability for you! We can see if we can get the rest of your party to your chosen destination with awards or points. The award flight search is random regarding success rate, but it's a fantastic benefit that we provide as part of our planning fee, and it's a considerable saving when it works.
4. The Rules Based on Dates of Travel
It's essential to be flexible. All the rules continue to be fluid. Here are the current relevant dates for the three major US airlines:
AA: It allows you to use flight credits issued for flights canceled due to Covid for travel up until March 31st, 2022. Any new tickets booked between March 1st, 2020, and March 31st, 2021, has no change fees. For tickets booked from April 1st, 2021 onward, Basic Economy now will have cancellation fees attached.
Delta: Travel vouchers for tickets booked before April 17th, 2020, for travel between March 2020 and March 2021, will expire December 31st, 2022. Travel vouchers for tickets purchased after April 17th, 2020, are valid for one year from the date of purchase. The new travel must take place within one year of the original ticket purchase date for all other flights.
United: Flight credits issued between May 1st, 2019, and March 31st, 2021, must be used for travel by March 31st, 2022. For bookings made after March 31st, 2021, you must use future flight credits for travel dates within 12 months of the original ticket issue date. United is implementing the same rule as AA regarding Basic Economy fares from April 1st.
5. Use A Travel Advisor
As travel experts, We have had a lot of experience working with credits and vouchers, especially during 2020. Indeed, if you have a few of these, it is a complicated process determining which to use first and when they expire. Credits are generally only allowed to be applied once per booking, whereas multiple vouchers often can be used on a single trip. It's hard to keep track of all the information due to airlines using similar terms with different meanings. These nuances are essential if you want to maintain the total value of your past canceled flights. So please remember we are a full-service provider and will help you with ALL your travel details.