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How to Not Let Your Flight Credits Go To Waste

By: J5Travel

· Travel,Award Bookings

For all the grief that US airlines rightfully received for extremely long hold times and slow refund processes through 2020, at least they did the right thing and extended validity dates several times on the huge amount of flight credits issued. But we're getting to the point I think where that will not be the case any more, and so it is time to look at your fine print closely and ascertain when your credit or voucher is valid until, bearing in mind that date for booking and date for travel can be different.

I'll refer to American Airlines as they are my main carrier from their major hub of Charlotte, but the following is generally true for all airlines now...

With AA it varies depending on what new itinerary you are trying to book but usually a payment option pops up at the end of the process to add a flight credit and it's a smooth process, but remember that flight credits can only be used by the original traveler and it's not possible to use them for anyone else's ticket. Combine that with different rules for eVouchers and it's still confusing to most consumers.

Read on for this weeks Top 5 Tips regarding those unused tickets, and please take note that we can absolutely work with you and the airlines to ensure you make the best use of them.

Don't let your flight credits and air points go to waste this travel season.

Top 5 Flight Credit Tips

1. Credit (above) or Voucher (below)?
Definitely make sure you know whether you have a credit or a voucher, as there are critical differences between them as to who you can or cannot book with them respectively.
If you have a decent sized credit that is coming up to expiry and you can't think what to do with it to protect it's value, there is a trick (a little too long to describe here) that can turn it in to the much more flexible voucher and extend its validity. There is also another category with AA that is a little less common and that is a trip credit. Make contact with us for the inside skinny on all these.

2. Book Now
There are still very good fares appearing for travel this Fall. I personally booked a roundtrip to Hong Kong (below) for under $600 yesterday for late October using my last remaining flight credit from 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 not make the trip, it is still worth booking especially using a credit because the booking terms are still very reasonable and worst case you end up with another credit that will be extended in to the future. This has to be better than letting the credit lapse altogether. We do think demand is going to surge in just a few months from now, as vaccination passports and better trends on Covid finally give the majority of potential travelers the confidence to take the plunge again. By waiting for that moment you will almost certainly be paying higher air fares for most destinations and airline terms and conditions will also likely tighten back up.

3. Combine a credit with awards
Perhaps one of the family has a flight credit, and the rest of the family or your partner don"t?
Explore booking a discounted business class fare to somewhere you've always dreamed of with the credit. Hint hint, French Polynesia (below) is reopening May 1st!
If you ask us to search for award availability 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 fairly random regarding success rate, but when it works it's an amazing benefit that we provide at no charge.

4. The Dates
Bear in mind, these may all change again, but here are the current relevant dates for the 3 major US airlines:
AA - flight credits issued for flights that were canceled due to Covid can be used for travel that takes place up until March 31, 2022. Any new tickets booked between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, have 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 prior to April 17, 2020, for travel between March 2020 and March 2021 will expire December 31, 2022. Travel vouchers for tickets purchased after April 17, 2020, are valid for one year from the date of purchase. For all other flights, the new travel must take place within one year of the original ticket purchase date.
United - flight credits issued between May 1, 2019, and March 31, 2021, must be used for travel that takes place by March 31, 2022. For bookings made after March 31, 2021, future flight credits will need to be used for travel that takes place within 12 months of when the original ticket was issued. United are implementing the same rule as AA regarding Basic Economy fares from April 1st.

5. Use Your Travel Advisor
We have had a lot of experience in the last year working with credits and vouchers. Certainly if you have several it is a complicated process in determining which to use and when. Credits are generally only allowed to be applied once per booking whereas multiple vouchers can be used on a single trip. These nuances are important if you want to maintain the full value of your past cancelled flights. So please remember we are a full service provider and will help you with ALL things travel.

I love travel and I love travel planning just as much. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts.

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