Many holiday-goers were left stranded after Southwest Airlines cancelled thousands of flights around Christmas. They want their money back.

Many travelers spent extra to book on other airlines, or to travel to their destination by train or rental car. It might appear as if you have lost money on other prepaid, non-refundable reservations, such as cruises, show tickets, and hotel rooms.

Genna Scisci from Chicago was hoping to fly to Albany for the holidays. However, she abandoned her plans after being unable to board four Southwest flights. She is seeking reimbursement of $150 for rideshares she used, since she has made multiple trips to the airport. Scisci claims she hasn’t received the money back, but she did receive a refund on her original round trip flight.

You can still try to recover some of your costs if you were affected by cancellations related to the Great Southwest Heatdown

25,000 Rapid Rewards points

Southwest sent email promo codes for 25,000 Rapid Reward bonus points per flight to travelers who had flights cancelled or delayed significantly between Dec. 24, 2022 and Jan. 2, 20,23. NerdWallet was informed by Southwest that codes were only sent to those who had flights that were significantly delayed or canceled during the period between Dec. 24, 2022 and Jan. 2, 2023. Some flyers reported receiving codes even though they had rebooked Southwest flights.

This is a screenshot of an email Southwest sent to the affected travelers.

Travelers from Southwest must visit a separate Rapid Rewards points site before March 31, 2023 to redeem these codes. It is not always possible to access the website immediately. The wait times are usually only a few minutes, a fraction of what people reported during the Southwest meltdown.

Southwest claims that 25,000 points will translate into a base fare redemption worth more than $300. NerdWallet analysis shows that Southwest points are worth 1.5 cents per, so 25,000 points would be worth $375 if they were redeemed for future flights. NerdWallet estimates that two codes are worth $750.

Companion Passes and elite status for some

You may be eligible for a small extension if you had Southwest elite status expiring. Southwest sent an email to affected travelers with 2022 Companion Passes, A-List, or A-List Preferred status. They promised to extend their status until Jan 31, 2023.

Reimbursement for other expenses

Southwest informs customers whose flights were canceled or delayed between Dec. 24, 2022 and Jan. 2, 20,23 that they can submit receipts for “reasonable expenses” such as rental cars, airline tickets, food through this webpage .

Southwest did not give any details on which items would be reimbursed. However, they stated in an email to NerdWallet “Customers are encouraged to submit items to consideration.”

Brittany Mendez, a travel writer, is seeking reimbursement for another expense. To spend Christmas week with her family, she and her fiancé flew Southwest to California. The dogs were left with a dogsitter. They couldn’t get another flight booked until one week after their flight home was cancelled.

Mendez and her fiancé stayed with their family in California for the unexpected extra week. They didn’t have to pay additional travel expenses. She hopes Southwest will cover the second week of dog sitting. She has not heard back from Southwest.

When and how will refunds be made?

NerdWallet was told by Southwest that there is no deadline for reimbursement requests. However, it is best to submit receipts as soon possible in order to maximize your chances of getting reimbursed. Southwest did not specify how long it would take to reimburse the receipts, but it could take a while as Southwest prioritizes flight refunds.

According to Department of Transportation regulations customers can get a refund if an airline cancels a flight or the customer decides not to travel. All passengers who have U.S. airfares are eligible for a refund, regardless of the reason.

Refunds must be issued within 7 business days after the airline receives the request along with the proper documentation, if the passenger paid by credit or cash.

Chris Perry, spokesperson for Southwest, stated that it is “currently our top priority to help our customers.” In an email to NerdWallet, Chris Perry said,

Southwest will then look into other out-of pocket refunds. Southwest stated that it will likely mail a paper check to the address listed with flight reservations once the reimbursement has been approved.

Other options for receiving compensation than Southwest

Some travel insurance companies may move quicker and be willing to pay for expenses that Southwest won’t. Contact your provider immediately if you have purchased the policy.

Even if your trip insurance wasn’t purchased, it might have been covered. You can purchase trip insurance with many travel credit cards. Check with your issuer to find out if you are eligible and if reimbursement is available.

What’s the next step for Southwest?

Many customers still find it frustrating that so many bags have gone missing and are annoyed at the chaos. Southwest claims that it will deliver or ship most of the separated bags within the first week in 2023.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan pledged to prioritise the development of better technologies, tools and processes to avoid future problems.

He said that he could not possibly apologize enough for the impact he had on their plans. There will be many lessons to learn about what we can do to prevent this from happening again. ”

(Photo by Southwest Airlines)

Maximizing your Rewards

A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the best travel cards in 2023, as well as those that work best for: