How to get an apology voucher

  • Southwest has been quietly doling out goodwill vouchers in varying amounts to passengers it stranded last weekend.
  • The vouchers for future travel are in addition to refunds for canceled flights. The airline is not disclosing specifics on how it decides the amount per passenger, but travelers so far have seen vouchers from $100 to $250.
  • Southwest decides reimbursement for other expenses on a case-by-case basis, said Southwest spokesperson Brandy King.

The customer emails from Southwest Airlines struck an apologetic tone this week.

“You matter to us,” one began. “We hope this LUV Voucher will allow our paths to cross again soon so we can have a better experience.”

Inside: a travel voucher for $250.

“We know things didn’t go as planned when traveling,” began another. “We’re so sorry for the disappointment this disruption caused and want a chance to make it up to you.”

Inside: the promise of a $100 voucher.

Southwest has been quietly doling out vouchers in varying amounts to passengers it stranded last weekend when it canceled as many as 30{3132c872e6c78dc13c400a594a399f7f701f7fca090fe22c84668d12b33a9deb} of its flights.

The LUV vouchers – Southwest’s stock ticker symbol is LUV and it’s based at Love Field in Texas – are a goodwill gesture. They are in addition to the refunds or flight credits airlines are required to pay when they cancel flights and passengers reject the airline’s rebooking options or none is available. (Southwest told many passengers it would take a couple days to get them on another flight.)

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The airline is not broadcasting the availability of the vouchers or specifying who gets how much and when, with travelers initially only hearing about them if they appealed to Southwest on Twitter.

Late Wednesday, Southwest sent its first batch of emails notifying travelers vouchers are on the way for their troubles. (I received one for a canceled Saturday flight.)

Southwest spokesperson Brandy King said affected passengers should automatically get the LUV voucher but notes the timetable “might be slower than usual due to the number of customers we are processing.”

The airline isn’t saying much on how it’s determining the vouchers’ value, but the amounts appear to range from $100 to $250 per passenger based on USA TODAY interviews with affected travelers. 

“We review each situation individually to determine the compensation based on level of inconvenience,” King said via email. “The level of inconvenience is a mix of length of delay, quality of reaccommodation options and flight cancellations.”

Frequent flyer status and persistence also appear to play a role.

Asim Raza received an email about a $250 voucher late Tuesday. His son’s Southwest flight from St. Louis to Washington, D.C., on Sunday was canceled and the family had to cash in American Airlines miles to get him back to college in time for a meeting. Raza, who has Southwest’s highest frequent flier status, A-List Preferred, reached out to the airline through Twitter right away. 

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Similarly, Becky Nelson, a strategic communications consultant in Washington, D.C.,  was stuck in Austin, Texas, on Sunday when Southwest canceled her flight home. She and a friend, both new mothers, were on a girls’ trip that had been scratched four times because of the pandemic.