It’s quite common and frustrating to lose a gift voucher and only find it after it has expired, but for one man, a nearly-20-year-old expired plane ticket turned into a pot of gold after the airline company told him that it was still usable!
A ‘Forever’ Plane Ticket
John Walker first bought the plane ticket with United Airlines in 1998 to attend his brother’s wedding in Sacramento but later decided that he didn’t want to go on the trip. The expensive airline voucher which cost $378 had been locked away in a box under Walker’s bed for 19 years, until one day, he decided to open it to reveal its contents.
To his surprise, he saw the antique ticket that he hadn’t used 19 years ago and decided to try his luck and ask the company if he could still travel with it. The response from the United Airline staff surprised him even more.
Lost and Found
In 1998, when Walker had first decided to cancel his trip from Nashville to Sacramento, he contacted his airline company to ask for a refund. In response, received a letter from United Airlines saying that even though they could not process the refund, they would allow him to take his flight on any other day of his choice.
This was a good bargain but Walker had no plans to travel to Sacramento any time soon. He decided to save the ticker for later use and put it inside his box of memorabilia which he usually kept under his bed.
Time flew by; weeks turned into months and months into years – but John had forgotten all about his plane ticket tucked away under his bed. He and his family eventually decided to relocate to different house. The box, along with his other possessions were stowed under his new bed, hidden from plain sight until one day, when he stumbled upon it by mistake while looking for something else.
He extracted the box from under his bed and opened it to find the 19-year-old ticket resting inside with the rest of the contents. The small piece of paper had been locked away for so long that it almost looked brand new. A glimmer of hope shone inside John. What if there was a way that he could still use it?
A Viral Tweet
He quickly got in touch with United Airline’s customer service to tell them about his exciting discovery. Unfortunately, the staff didn’t give him the response he had hoped for. John was told that the ticket was too old and he could no longer use it but he still had the letter from the company which clearly stated that he could use the ticket to fly on any other day of his choice.
The letter didn’t contain a timeframe. John took it to twitter to ask United Airlines if they could be kind enough to let him use the ticket for a trip to Sacramento.
In 2010, when United Airlines went bankrupt, they no longer had the legal obligation to reimburse customers who held ‘date-less’ tickets, but the company still decided to honor John’s 19-year-old ticket and told him that he could use it for travelling to Sacramento even today. John’s tweet to the airline company went viral and several news agencies tried to contact him to publish his story.
United Airline’s Decision to Honor the Ticket
In an interview with WFMY News 2, he said that he was shocked to discover the ticket after 19 years, and even after he saw it, it took him a few minutes to revive the memory of him making the purchase in 1998. At that time, he had put the ticket away because he didn’t have any plans to travel, and wanted to focus on work and family – but he soon forgot about it completely.
John also said that he only tried to contact the airline company after he read in the fine prints that any unused domestic ticket could be used to buy a different ticket in the name of the same customer at any point in time. The airline’s gesture of honoring the ticket was definitely a sign of good customer service and John is happy to finally be able to make the trip that he was supposed to 19 years ago.