Airline Credits. When will they Expire? Can I get a Refund? What do I do?

Over the past two years nearly everyone has had some sort of plan affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions have come and gone and then returned again, leaving us all uncertain of when we should look at rescheduling our delayed travels. 

In general, airline credits expire 1 year from the date of purchase – not when you cancel. Airlines recognized early on that there wasn’t a definite timeline on when we would all be in the air again. Due to this, many of them gave an automatic extension for all purchases affected by the pandemic. 

Now, though, we are nearing the end of those extensions and many of us are left with the question: what do I do now?

My credit was extended before the COVID-19 pandemic, but I still can’t travel – now what?

If your credit is nearing expiration and you still can’t travel, then there are two options we would suggest to you.

  1. Check the transferability of your credit, someone you know may be travelling soon and would be able to utilize it. This way there would be just a small fee attached and the whole value of your ticket won’t be lost.
  1. Apply for a refund on the taxes, if you can’t travel and don’t have someone hitting the road soon then at the very least you could apply for a refund on the taxes. This way you’re at least regaining something from your initial investment.

Can I refund my credit?

The initial response to this question is it depends on the fare class booked. Higher fare classes generally come with greater flexibility, such as Latitude on Air Canada which is fully refundable. Whereas Standard fares are more restrictive in that they are non-refundable and have a higher change fee attached.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic there have been a large number of asterisks attached to each booking. Airlines have come out stating if you purchased your ticket between certain dates, it could be refundable. Most airlines have these details outlined on their website now for quick reference.

As a general rule of thumb, if the airline has cancelled your flight, your eligibility for a refund is higher.

Can I transfer my credit to someone else?

Transferring your credit to another person is a great way to ensure your credit doesn’t go to waste should you be unable to use it prior to expiration. 

Certain airlines are more flexible than others when it comes to flights within Canada and the US. 

Canadian carriers provide this option to their customers who purchase a Standard fare or higher. Tickets with American carriers, however, come with greater restriction as they are non-transferrable. Though if you have purchased a high enough fare class you could be eligible for a refund.

When considering international travel, it again will depend on a multitude of factors – such as if your flights are all on one ticket, your destination country, fare class, etc.

Can I refund the credit back to our company?

Applicable credits can only be refunded back to the original form of payment. So, if your company purchases all employee flights on the corporate credit card then you would be able to have the fare refunded back to the company.

Though if the credit is not eligible for a refund, it cannot be transferred back to the company but rather only stay in the traveller’s name or, if applicable, be transferred to another employee.

Can I use my large credit on several different flights?

In short, no. While it would be great to divide your credit and apply it to three individual short haul flights, airlines treat their credits as a “one time use”.

 When you have a larger credit on your hands this is where we suggest you do a bit of forecasting; “Will this trip be rescheduled so I can use the credit? “, “What type of travel is on the horizon for me?”.

If travel simply won’t be in the cards for you before the expiration date, this is when we would begin looking at the transferability to a colleague or other traveller. 

When all else fails, always consult an expert! 

Will airlines extend my travel credit again?

At this time, we don’t foresee any further extensions to travel credits due to most countries opening their borders again and travel ramping back up.

For many, managing airline credits can feel cumbersome and likely overwhelming. 

At Elite Travel, airline credit management is built into your program, and we are committed to 100% airline usage, wherever possible. So, you can feel confident in knowing an expert is keeping track of your investment.

Do you have a question about your current credits? Let us help!

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