I canceled my Southwest flight — didn’t I?

Janet Holzhauer is certain she had canceled her Southwest Airlines “Wanna Get Away” reservation. However, Southwest is less certain. The flight took off without her, and she was considered a “no-show.” When is a cancellation not a cancellation, and what can our advocates do to help?

Question: I booked a round-trip flight on Southwest Airlines, but I messed up on canceling the flight via the website. I did not get the usual confirmation email that states “your flight is just around the corner,” so thought I had made the cancellation correctly.

Southwest emailed me after the departure, referred to me as no-show and won’t refund anything. I notified them regarding refunding my return flight (for which I technically was not yet a no-show), but they won’t refund that segment either. I contacted Southwest customer service and submitted all documentation, but they won’t help.

I made an honest effort to cancel, and I feel I deserve a refund of $238 for both tickets. At the very least, I would be grateful if they would refund the return since I was not a no-show. Could you please help? — Janet Holzhauer, Shorewood, Wis.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear you had a problem with Southwest’s cancellation policy. The airline has one of the most generous cancellation policies in the industry. You can cancel up to 10 minutes before departure and bank the value of the ticket toward a future flight without penalty.

It’s always a great idea to read your traveler provider’s contract of carriage. Southwest’s website includes detailed information about cancellation policies.

It is also important to cover yourself by keeping detailed records of correspondence you receive from travel providers, and if it’s verbal information, get it in writing.

Related story:   Southwest's cancellation policy is lenient, but not this lenient

In this case you attempted to contact Southwest’s customer service department, only to be rebuffed. You could have escalated the claim yourself by using the list of contacts we publish on our website. Instead, you reached out to our advocates, who contacted Southwest on your behalf.

Southwest said that they have records of you calling and asking about canceling your ticket but not actually doing so. They claim they advised you that if you wished to cancel to do so at least 10 minutes before the flight or risk losing your funds. However, they claim you never actually cancelled the reservation, and as a result, you were listed as a no-show for the outbound flight.

Nevertheless, Southwest was willing to make a one-time exception to get your funds back to you. They said they were doing this as a courtesy and hope this will help educate you and our readers.

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined. Read more of Mark's articles here.

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