Due to unexpected circumstances, I have to fly to Los Angeles the next day. I am by no means a frequent business traveler. I have always used Southwest Airline to travel from Northern California to Southern California because of their prices. So I go to Southwest website to check their list of available flights, and I was shocked to find out that each flight is priced $124. The total for the roundtrip including taxes and fees is a whopping $269. What happened to their often advertised $49 one-way fare? Apparently, those low fares must be booked certain days in advance (usually 14 days). I also searched other sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, everything except Priceline.
Finally, I gave up looking and decided to pay $269 for the Southwest flight. I was going through the checkout process then I saw a section called “Apply Travel Funds”. After a little bit of research on Southwest website, I learned that you can apply credits from previous unused ticket on your next reservation. Then it hits me, there must be people out there who might be willing to sell these credits at reduced prices before they expire. But where would I find these people? A quick goolge of “southwest travel fund” returns two obvious places: Ebay and Craiglist.
The first place I tried is Ebay. Do a search on “Southwest credit” and BINGO! There are several auctions where people are selling their expiring credits at discounted prices. After a quick scan, I picked up one auction where the original credit amount is $250, but the seller is selling it for $200 Buy-It-Now. That’s a 20% saving! Like every careful ebay user, I verified the seller’s feedbacks and past auctions. I made sure that there are no other hidden charges. In this case, there is no shipping fee since the delivery method is by email. The only information you need from the seller is the flight confirmation number and the name entered in the payment information section of the original reservation.
So I paid the seller via Payal (credit card funded) and send a message to seller letting them know that I am waiting for the name and confirmation number. About 1 hour later, I received an email from the seller with the information I needed. So, I head back to Southwest website and proceed to purchase the flight I had picked earlier. I entered the information provided by the seller and clicked “Apply Ticketless Travel Fund” button. Bam! $250 is taken off from my total amount, and now I only have to pay another $19 to complete the transaction. So, the final price I paid is $219 for tickets originally priced at $269. A saving of $50 for maybe 15 minutes of work.
Just to follow up, I also checked out Craigslist and found several people selling the same thing. However, I opt to go with ebay because it was easier to check the references of the seller on ebay. Also not everyone was willing to accept Paypal on Craigslist. My only choice was to meet up with the seller and pay in cash, something that I am not excited in doing.