How Southwest Policies Affect Your Credit Card

There are big changes at Southwest airlines – and if you’re a consumer, these changes can affect your credit card and the way you do business with the airline that has its own co-branded Visa credit card.

Southwest Charges

Southwest Airlines has historically not charged customers to change their flight plans after buying a ticket; however, those customers might see new fees for not canceling a ticket before their flight. During a late afternoon meeting on Friday, the airline made its announcement on those new policies – and there’s much more going on, too, with the airline that could affect your credit cards.

As it is now, passengers who, for whatever reason, are unable to use their ticket can apply the value of the ticket to a new flight. If, however, you don’t how up and don’t cancel, the airline plans on generating more revenue by charging cancellation fees. While there’s not been a definitive date released, it is expected to go into effect at some point in early 2013.

Meanwhile, there’s a bill on the President’s desk at this very moment awaiting his signature. The U.S. House passed on Friday its “No-Hassle Flying Act,” which allows National Transportation Security Administration officials more discretion in screening checked baggage arriving in the U.S. from certain international airports, such as the Caribbean, Ireland and Canada (Customs and Border Protection has existing preclearance operations already in place).

This is sure to be good news for Southwest Airlines and its millions of customers.

Wichita Angle

You may recall last month that Southwest Airlines announced its newest destination in Wichita, Kansas – making it the 85th to its route map. That new service begins June 20, 2013. It will offer a total of five daily flights, many of which will include nonstop service to Dallas, Chicago and Las Vegas. Further, it will assume all of the flights from its subsidiary AirTran Airways. It’s running several promos that will transcend the new year mark, including reduced ticket prices. Use your Southwest Airlines Visa for even more savings and rewards. There are blackout dates, however, including Fridays and Sundays as well as July 3, 6 and 7. Its scheduled was released recently and includes two daily nonstop flights between Wichita and Dallas Love Field, two daily nonstop flights between Wichita and Chicago Midway and one daily nonstop flight between Wichita and Las Vegas

Drinks on Us

Finally, there was one more bit of news regarding Southwest Airlines late last week. This time, it could mean you see a refund to your credit card or vouchers for free drinks.

A man sued Southwest Airlines because of the expiration date placed the drink vouchers it gave out to customers. The problem wasn’t that the expiration date existed, but rather, because it went into effect after he had accumulated more than 40 of those tickets, which were valued at more than $200 – and had no limitations on when he could redeem them. Soon, a class action suit brewed and Southwest settled and said it would accept any of the unredeemed vouchers. Here’s the kicker: it’s believed there are close to 6 million unredeemed vouchers – which equates to $29 million total. The tickets were valued at $5 apiece.

The attorney representing those included in the class action suit said,

This settlement is a grand-slam result for the class, as consumers are recovering 100 cents on the dollar.

The settlement also requires the airline honor those without the actual voucher, but whose accounts – perhaps even credit card accounts – prove they’d not yet redeemed them. In those instances, consumers will have up to a year to redeem the new ones they’ll be issued. Siprut said,

Class members just have to submit a form saying they had a certain number of vouchers that were never redeemed, and they can get replacement vouchers in equal number,

If you’re wondering if you have a credit, you’ll be finding out over the next few weeks as the airline begins notifying those eligible.

Southwest is often the first to take advantage of new trends. Its Visa credit card was the first in the states to use new technology that improved efforts to reduce fraud. More recently, it began offering gift cards. They’re available in any dollar amount from $10 to $1000 and have no fees nor expiration points. In an ironic twist, the word “never” is tacked on to the end of “No expiration” – The debacle with the drink vouchers isn’t lost on its customers.

Do you think these new fees will bode well with fliers or do you think consumers just might band together and put pressure on the airline for its new “now show” fee? Share your thoughts with us. Also, if you carry the Southwest Visa, how does it stack up to your other credit cards?

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