Though it may be hard to believe, it’s been almost a year since the world shut down and most of us had some upcoming vacations cancelled. If you’re like most of us, you got some kind of flight credit from the airline. Generally, flight credits are good for about a year from their initial issue date, so if you still have a flight credit or voucher you haven’t used yet, now’s the time to check on that. You’ll want to make sure you know when it expires (the expiration date may have changed) and start thinking about using it if it’s expiring soon.
Here’s what you need to know about your flight credit:
1. Some airlines have extended vouchers and credits.
Good news: you might have more time to use up that credit than you initially thought.
Most flight credits were initially offered with an expiration date a year from either your original purchase date or a year from the date your credit was issued—which many of us assumed would be more than enough time to use them. However, one year later and we’re still living in the pandemic-era, so many people still don’t feel comfortable traveling or may not be able to visit the destination on their ticket even if they wanted to.
In response, many airlines have extended credits even further. Keep in mind that some airlines have further complicated policies by applying different waivers and extensions to different credits depending on when your original flight was booked. If you’re confused at all, just give the airline a call and have your airline reservation number handy. (We include this in your confirmation email, next to your StudentUniverse reservation number.) They can help you confirm which waiver/expiration date is applicable to your credit.
Here’s how major US airlines have extended their credits:
On Alaska Airlines, credits that were issued after March 1, 2020 have been extended at least through July 5, 2021. Be sure to read the official information on Alaska Airlines’ credit policies and expiration dates before rebooking.
On Delta, your credits are generally good for one year. However, for credits from tickets purchased before April 17, 2020, the expiration date has been extended to December 31, 2022. You can check the policies of your particular credit on Delta’s eCredits hub.
On United, future flight credits are typically good for 12 months (and you can change the destination and book on partner airlines!). However, for tickets issued between May 1, 2019 and March 31, 2021, flight credits are good for travel through March 31, 2022. United has lots of information about travel credits and you can check the details of yours in their United travel credit hub.
On American, flight credits issued for flights cancelled during American’s Covid-19 flexible period (purchased after March 1, 2020) can be used for travel through March 31, 2022.
On JetBlue, travel credits are normally good for one year. However, credits issued between February 27, 2020 and June 30, 2020 are valid for two years instead. You can find more info about JetBlue’s travel credit policies on their website.
Keep in mind that when an airline says the credit or voucher must be redeemed within a certain amount of time that means booked, not traveled. For example, if you have a credit with United Airlines that needs to be used by June 30, 2021; that means you can book a flight on June 15, 2021 for travel December 18, 2021 with that credit.
2. Credit rules can be confusing.
If you haven’t picked up on this yet, understanding the terms of your credit can be confusing! Even if you’re not ready to use your credit right now, it’s a good idea to do some research and make sure you understand what the terms are for when you are ready to use it. Some credits are very flexible. You might be able to change the origin, destination, even the traveler depending on what kind of voucher you have.
Other credits are more rigid and only good for the same route—or even the same fare class—as your original ticket. Some credits have been extended, while others (even if it’s from the same airline!) haven’t been. In short: if you’re going based off of what a friend told you or trying to remember what a travel agent told you a year ago, you might want to check the terms of your credit again.
3. Not all flight credits are created equal
You may have heard a lot of terms floating around—things like “flight credit,” “travel voucher,” “travel certificates,” “travel funds” and so on. It may seem like these are all interchangeable terms, but they’re actually not. And, to make things even more confusing, they mean different things for different airlines. In short:
“Travel credits” or “flight credits” are typically the same. This is the most common option if you had a flight cancelled due to the pandemic, or if you had to cancel your flight and weren’t able to get a cash refund. Travel credits are typically only good for one flight (i.e. you can’t use a $500 credit for two $250 flights). Also, if your new flight is less than the value of your credit, you may not get the leftover credits back.
“Vouchers” are sometimes a bit more flexible. Vouchers often work a bit more like a gift card. Sometimes, a voucher may allow you to change the destination or route of your flight (on airlines where you can’t do that with a normal credit). You may also be allowed to book travel for someone else with your voucher (if you’re feeling generous).
4. Need to travel soon? Here’s where you can go.
If your credit expires soon and you’re comfortable traveling (it’s easier than you think!), there’s actually a lot of places you can go right now.
Domestic travel is pretty easy, and most states are open to visitors. Some states have testing or quarantine requirements, but we’ve broken down the requirements for every US state on our blog so you can easily plan your next US trip.
If you’re ready to get out of the country—say to the Caribbean or for a European getaway—you’ve got options there too. Check out our full list of where Americans can travel right now. We keep it updated so you can keep an eye out for new destinations reopening for travelers soon too!
Thankfully, many kinds of flight credit allow you to change the destination. So even if your original destination is still not open for travelers, you don’t have to let your flight credit go to waste! Just take a look at what’s open and where your airline flies and then get planning.
Help! My voucher expires really soon!
Not to worry! If your flight credit is expiring soon, but you’re not ready to book a trip—or your destination is still closed to visitors—there’s still some options for you.
First, try calling the airline (yes, even if you bought your ticket through us or another online travel agency). Briefly let the airline know your situation and ask if they’ll extend your credit for you. Sometimes they can! Keep in mind that all credit rules and extensions are up to the airline. Even if your credit is with us, we have to adhere to all published credit rules.
If you can’t extend your credit, we recommend booking a flight that allows free changes. Many airlines are still offering free changes on all flights through the end of March. Some airlines have done away with change fees altogether! You can book a flight you’re not quite committed to and be able to easily change it later—that way you won’t lose the value of your credit.
Step-by-step instructions on how to use your flight credit:
If you have a flight credit for a flight you bought on StudentUniverse:
- Log in to our website and go to “My Wallet” to view your credits. If there aren’t any listed there, but you’re pretty sure there should be, give us a call.
- Check our website or app for the flights you want. Remember that travel credit can only be used for the same airline as your original flight. You may or may not be able to change the destination (check the airline’s website for details). Also keep in mind that not every flight listed on our website is available to purchase with flight credits. (Your new flight typically has to be the same fare class/ticket type as your original flight—sorry, it’s complicated!) However, you can get an idea of what’s available and the general prices.
- Give us a call so we can help rebook your flight to the new flight you want using your credit. It’ll help us if you have the following information handy during your call:
- your StudentUniverse reservation code (six-digit code)
- the original flight and airline
- Your desired new flight route (origin and destination) and date
- We can confirm which flights are available for booking with credit and get one booked for you. If your new flight was more expensive than your credit, or if there are taxes and fees your credit doesn’t cover, we’ll ask for credit card information to charge those.
- After that, you’re all set!
If you have a flight credit directly with an airline:
Each airline has slightly different rebooking policies, but in general, you should be able to follow these steps.
- Log in to the airline’s website and go to your account or a “My Trips” section to view your credits. If there aren’t any listed there, but you’re pretty sure there should be, give the airline a call.
- Some airlines allow you to rebook directly online, which works pretty much the same way as booking a flight normally. If not, you can still check their website to get an idea of the flights you want. You may or may not be able to change the destination (check the terms of your credit for details).
- If you can’t rebook online, give the airline a call—or follow any instructions on their website— to rebook your flight. If your new flight was more expensive than your credit, or if there are taxes and fees your credit doesn’t cover, you’ll need to pay the difference when rebooking.
- After that, you’re all set!