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What to do about that expiring airline voucher from 2020

Consumer Reports has recommendations on how to convert the voucher or at least get the timeline moved.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — When a business doesn't honor the deal, offer the customer service you expect, or make good on the product warranty, you have a right to complain. And last year, there were lots of complaints.

Consumer Reports keeps track and in 2020 people filed almost 90,000 air travel complaints with the US Department of Transportation. In 2019, there were only 1,500 complaints! That's 57 times the amount from the two years…and most folks never even went anywhere, so there were less flight delays and bags lost.

A big part of the complaints was getting a travel voucher instead of a refund.

Consumer Reports sent this letter to 10 US Airlines, calling on them to provide full refunds to all consumers whose flights were canceled or affected by COVID-19.

Right now, if you have a travel voucher from one of the airlines, you need to confirm the due date. The expiration dates may have been extended.

“Have your paperwork in hand. Know your confirmation numbers. Have the information in front of you when you call the airline,” said Donna Rosato of Consumer Reports.

Rosato says to call the airline directly and ask what has changed in the policy. She says many airlines have extended their expiration dates, but you can ask for another extension if need be.

“See if you can get it converted into something else. For example, United Airlines is allowing travelers to convert the voucher into an Electronic Travel Certificate which can be used by other travelers and gives you a timeline up to two years so you can stretch it out,” said Rosato.

Another idea? Ask if you can turn the voucher into frequent flyer miles with your reward program.

KNOW THIS: if travelers self-canceled their trip, versus the airline canceling the flight, refunds are not an option.