Southwest’s Problematic Ticketing Logic

I really should avoid booking flights at all costs, because if I can’t do it online, it ends up being incredibly difficult. This time, it was Southwest making my life difficult, and man, do they have a problem in the way they process unused credits.

We were looking at a simple one way flight in June that was going to cost us just shy of $98. I had two Southwest's Confusing Policiesdifferent confirmation numbers on unused tickets that I wanted to apply to cover the total cost of the ticket. Of course, Southwest lets you do this online, and I’ve always found that they’ve made this easier than anyone else. Not this time.

One of the credits had about $90 from one ticket and it expires in September. The other one had about $115 and expires next April. Naturally, I wanted to use up all the funds that expire in September and pull the remaining $8 or so out of the one that wouldn’t expire for a year. But when I went online, it didn’t let me. I put the $90 credit in first and that worked. But then when I went in to put the other confirmation #, it then pulled all the credit from the newer one and wouldn’t let me use the one that expire soon.

I tried it a few different ways, so I called Southwest for help. They weren’t very helpful. It’s not that they didn’t try, but the system apparently has some screwy logic that wouldn’t let them help me. Here’s how it works, according to the reservation agents I spoke with.

The $90 credit that expires in September is a partial credit. It used to be around $200, but we had used the balance for another set of flights previously. So the system views that as a partial credit which is a lower class of credit in the hierarchy. The $115 credit was actually two credits. There was one full ticket intact for $111 and then another $3 or $4 as a partial credit from a second ticket on the same itinerary. The full ticket is a higher class of credit, for some reason. Confused? Me too. I just wanted to use my f*&(ing credits.

Here’s the bottom line. The system will force you to use full credits that are on a ticket before you can use partial credits. So I had a choice. I could either pull the full amount out of the $111 or I could combine the $90 credit with the $3 credit and pay the rest on my credit card. I opted for the latter because I didn’t want to take a chance that we wouldn’t use that credit before it expired. Yes, it only cost me $4 or $5 on my credit card, but that’s not the point.

Clearly, this is a very bad setup. Southwest should let you choose which credits you want to apply instead of forcing some arbitrary logic that makes no sense for the customer.

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