I’m normally a pretty big fan of Southwest… with their often reasonable prices, two free checked bags (for ski trips), flexible tickets, and I have the companion pass to boot. I have never had anything to complain about (beyond normal annoyances that all airlines have).

Well, today I discovered a pretty shady (imo) business practice of their’s.

Let me set the stage.

I had purchased a ticket back on January 3, 2015 for a flight from Austin, Texas to Chicago Midway in March. The total cost of the ticket was $180.10. I paid for part of it with a voucher, and part of it with my credit card. The value of the voucher was $92.10 leaving the total on my credit card to be $88.

Now, availability opened up on American into O’Hare instead, which was preferable to me as I was flying out of O’Hare that evening.

Fast forward to today, when I am booking a ticket from Detroit to Denver for travel this summer (August). I had a LUV Voucher and the money from this AUS – MDW ticket I had cancelled. Right? Wrong.

After sending the confirmation number over to @SouthwestAir on Twitter, I was told that because the voucher I had applied had an expiration date of March 5, 2015, my entire new ticket also assumed that expiration date! 

Now, I should have definitely been on top of the fact that that original voucher tied to my ticket with a value of $92.10 had an expiration date in March of this year, but the fact that my entire new ticket took on that expiration is crazy!

I was able to get the value of $180.10 reinstated…. for a fee of $100… leaving my ticket value at $80.10 (vs the $88 I paid on my credit card).

Let’s look at this in a more serious fashion. Say you had a voucher for $5.60, the value of taxes and fees on a cancelled award ticket. You’re now purchasing a ticket that comes to a total of $180.10. Your ticket totaling $180.10 takes on the expiration date of the $5.60 voucher. You’ve now paid $173.50 on your credit card. You have to cancel the ticket… and when you go to rebook something later, Southwest’s site tell’s you that there’s an error, so you contact Southwest, and they tell you that because your $5.60 voucher expired, you now have to pay $100 to get any of your ticket value back. Leaving your ticket with a value of $80.10. Even if you just purchased that ticket yesterday, or the fay before. Ridiculous.

The way I see it, Southwest stole $8 from me, but it could me much worse as detailed in the scenario above. At the very least, Southwest should refund me the amount I spent on my credit card.

What do you think?