Personal Finance 

Airline Free Flight Vouchers Suck

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So my friend Scott and I went to the airport terminal today to try to trade in his voucher for a flight for me from Baltimore to Reno at the end of July. I’m used to the painless Southwest system where you simply go online, tell them your number, and they book your flight if there is any seat available (though they may have changed that recently) without any hassles. My friend Scott’s voucher was one of those “free flight if you volunteer to be bumped” that airlines always claim you can use on any flight, blah blah. Well US Airways, guess you weren’t exactly 100% accurate when you told Scott that it was a free flight anywhere in the contiguous United States – it’s really a free flight anywhere in the contiguous United States if there is a fare class X seat available. The gate agent, who was very polite and tried to help us as much as she could, told us that the chances of someone getting an X fare class seat going to the west coast was nearly impossible. There goes that part of the strategy of getting us out to Reno a little cheaper than the going rate.

I tried to find somewhere that would explain the rhyme and reason of the different fare classes (Wikipedia makes a valiant effort) but in my research it appears that different airlines use the codes differently (so take Wikipedia’s take with a grain of salt) so it’s almost hopeless to try to decipher it.

{ 4 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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4 Responses to “Airline Free Flight Vouchers Suck”

  1. Jenny says:

    I got some good deal there.

    You can also try priceline and hotwire. Do some research on bidding forum first to get an idea how low you can bid.

  2. EN says:

    Southwest now restricts the amount of rapid rewards seats per flight, but only on rewards earned after some day in April 2006. However, there are no more blackout dates for those newer rewards and you have two years to accumulate points towards an award.

    The only thing I don’t like is that they don’t say how many flights have rewards seats, and they don’t guarantee that every flight even had a reward seat in the first place. So they can essentially not offer reward seats to popular destinations or popular time periods and no one would know.

    See Rapid Rewards Membership Rules numbers 14 and 16 for more info.

  3. Airline cash vouchers are pretty good. As far as those discount coupons, friend flies free, etc. version are horrible. Friends fly free? Haha. You have to buy a ticket in a certain class, which often costs just as much as two tickets… Discount code? Rrrright. If you buy a ticket that costs $500 more than the cheap tickets.

  4. Anon says:

    Dear Jenny,

    Next time it would be nice if you skipped the affiliate code at the end of the link. Thanks!

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