Several days ago I purchased several tickets for my children. The fares subsequently went down significantly so I called SWA to have the prices lowered. They did that, however, the difference went to "Residual Travel Funds" (RTF), which is fine, except they went to my children rather than to me.
I reminded the SWA Customer Relations Representative that I was the one who had paid for the tickets but the Representative insisted the refunds could only be posted to the person named on the ticket. I said I thought that was unfair and arbitrary and the Representative said I could have those RTF's put under my name, but that would cost $100 for each ticket!
I then asked to speak with a Supervisor but was told my Representative was a Supervisor and anyone above her would only validate what this Representative was saying.
After waiting 43 minutes to get to the first Representative I was told the next level Supervisor would have to call me back...within 24-48 hours. But this being a holiday weekend I will (pray, please!) hear back on Tuesday.
I have never encountered this policy before and, frankly, do not understand why SWA will accomodate me but only if I pay them $100 per ticket. That is wrong and, to me, very unfair. It is taking advantage of me, the person who paid for all the tickets, and of questionable ethics. Up until now all my dealings with SWA over the many years have been positive. But this matter is baffling to me and seems unwarranted. I would like to have the RTF's applied to me...especially since my children only fly sparingly and may not have the opportunity to use the RTF's within the time limit.
Has anyone else had this experience and, if so, how was it handled?
The $100 charge is basically the standard rate for getting travel funds (good for a specific passenger) converted to a voucher (not passenger specific). Usually you have to wait a year when the travel funds expire to do this conversion so I'm very surprised they made that offer to you now and even after expiration it's up to the representative to decide if you can do this, there's no formal, published policy. In other words, you'll be lucky if you actually get what they said you could get.
Southwest's standard policy when issuing credit for a price drop is what you heard, funds are issued back to the passenger, not the person paying for the ticket. There's no fee to do that so it's a far better policy than any other airline despite it not being perfect.
My advice (if you want it), take the travel funds as you've been issued and have a nice weekend. You can apply them towards a trip that completes within a year of your original purchase. If for some reason you don't use them, then call in at that time and ask that expired travel funds be reinstated and pay the $100 per travel fund. That's a pretty hefty price drop if you can lose $100 of value and still have something left.
If you bought refundable tickets, then the person paying would get the refund. But you bought non-refundable tickets, meaning there is no refund -- just travel funds good toward future travel.
Travel funds, just like tickets, are non-transferrable. They can only be used by the originally ticketed passenger(s). Southwest started enforcing non-transferability in 2011, and it's not arbitrary, it's the industry standard -- all carriers do it this way.