Southwest has eliminated flight-credit expirations for all new bookings as well for all previously existing credits.
The policy, which was put into place Thursday, is unique among U.S. carriers.
Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said the new policy gives customers "definitive simplicity and ease in travel," similar to other customer-friendly Southwest policies such as free checked bags, no change fees and no expiration of loyalty points.
The move increases Southwest's differentiation compared to large competitors. The carrier, which prides itself on offering a simpler all-in product, had lost some of that differentiation during the pandemic when American, Delta, United, Alaska and JetBlue joined Southwest by ditching change fees.
For now, Southwest customers will see a placeholder expiration date of Dec. 31, 2040 on all valid flight credits. Later this year, the carrier plans to complete a technology update that will enable it to remove the expiration date entirely for flight credits.
Southwest is touting the move as a another step in a renewed effort to improve its customer experience.
The carrier also recently began upgrading inflight WiFi and plans to retrofit aircraft with in-seat power as well as offer larger overhead bins and live TV on new aircraft.