My parents had to cancel their spring trip with Air France due to the corona virus pandemic. After making the call, they received an email confirming the issuance of a voucher per passenger.

They send me the email.

REFUNDABLE VOUCHER

Air France Voucher Email

The voucher can be used on all Skyteam carriers and partners: Air France, KLM, Delta Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

But this sentence got my attention:

If you have not used your voucher, it will become refundable after one year

Air France allows my parents: if you don’t use the voucher in the next 12 months, you can cash it in!

Air France is the only carrier doing this to my knowledge.

It’s a flexible and very diplomatic way to convince travelers to keep their money with the carrier. And God knows airlines are in dire need of cash. Adding the refundable option at the end of the 12-month period is an honest proposal. In my view, it’s a very smart way to avoid confrontation and legal action to refund travelers.

Also as a traveler, you have already spent the money on the ticket. Therefore, you don’t need the money. Spare yourself the hassle of fighting for a refund and keep that voucher value close and ready to book.

Some carriers are not as flexible. Although they are not charging any cancellation fees such as Air Canada and British Airways, some clients find it hard to get their money back. Particularly with the CTA not requiring Canadian airlines to refund passengers for cancellations due to coronavirus pandemic or other reasons beyond the control of airlines.

Airlines won’t let go that cash easily, and it’s understandable. They incur huge fixed costs. With the current grounding, airlines are bleeding. They have to pay for the cost of owning or leasing airplanes and maintaining them with all the staff that goes with it.

I think the best way to support our favorite carriers is to leave that money with them. Money travelers already have intended on spending. Money they have already spent. Money airlines can use to keep afloat.

My opinion may shock some, but even as travel hacker I spend generously on air travel. In time of crisis, that doesn’t change. Airlines are important to our economies.

10% EXTRA ON VALUE OF VOUCHER

Aer Lingus and Qatar Airways are adding a 10% extra to the value of issued vouchers on canceled trips.

Aer Lingus Voucher Refund Details
Aer Lingus Voucher Refund Details

In the their voucher request T&Cs, both carriers mention they’ll add 10% to the value of the future ticket(s). Very diplomatic way to keep the cash under the airline’s wings. An incentive that’ll get traction for sure.

Qatar Airways Voucher Refund Details
Qatar Airways Voucher Refund Details

What do you think?