In the Bank

Q: My husband and I had planned on going to a wedding in September. As it turns out, we may not be able to go. We booked the trip already, on Southwest. I called and they said that if we didn't use our tickets, they would go into a "bank" that must be used by May 31,2008. Fair enough. The question is, I don't anticipate being able to take a trip before then. We will, however be going to Las Vegas in June 2008 for a work convention.

A friend suggested booking a flight for before May 31st and not using that one either.... then the money would be put back in a "bank". Then we could use it for the June flights. Is this possible, or do the airlines frown on this?

A: Unfortunately, this will not work.

Upon calling Southwest airlines, we were told that the funds must be used by that date. So that means you need to actually travel by then (not just make a reservation). There's no way to get around this, because the computer discards those funds after the deadline.

There is one thing you can do, though. These funds are transferable, so if any relatives or friends are traveling by May 31 next year, you can let them use it. Maybe they can pay you instead of Southwest for the amount you account, or just be generous and give it away.

*Update: A second option was brought to our attention. For a fee of $50, Southwest will allow you to extend your credit for a period of 6 months.