Applying a Voucher After Purchasing a Ticket: Right or Wrong?

H ere is an interesting situation which purportedly may have moral implications: if you are on a business trip with expenses paid by your employer and happen to have an airline voucher which is about to expire, would you first pay for the airline ticket and then attempt to apply the voucher afterwards?

Applying a Voucher After Purchasing a Ticket: Right or Wrong?

The scenario which you just read is the conundrum which FlyerTalk member jeam3130 faced — and it was met with such a debate by fellow FlyerTalk members that the discussion was closed…

…but assuming that an airline would apply a voucher to a ticket which was already purchased — which is highly unlikely anyway — does an ethical dilemma result from it? Does the answer depend on how the voucher was earned in the first place?

Suppose you purchased the ticket for $1,000.00 and used the voucher to lower the amount to $500.00. If you then submit the $1,000.00 on your expense report to your employer as an expense item and pocket the $500.00, is it considered fraud?

“Yes, it is clear an absolute fraud, not gray as some assert”, opined FlyerTalk member exwannabe. “In some cases that cert would be worth $500, in others it would be nearly worthless.” Furthermore, exwannabe believes that the proper action is that you “should simply buy the ticket with $500 + cert to begin with, and put that down on the expense the report. State the value of the cert spent and justify it.”

FlyerTalk member danielonn also believes that this action is not ethical, with the suggestion to “Just be up front with your boss/HR.”

However, FlyerTalk member pvn has a different perspective: “The ‘pocket the cash’ objection is incredibly weird. Money is fungible. If the OP had gotten a prepaid visa card from some unknown source, used that to buy the ticket, and the submitted the expense for reimbursement, would that be ‘fraud’ in your opinion? He’s ‘pocketing the cash’ in that example.”


If an employee approached me prior to purchasing an airline ticket and explained that he or she would lose several hundred dollars of his or her own money because a voucher would expire that he or she would otherwise not be able to use for a personal trip, finding a reason to deny that request would be difficult for me…

…but what if the employer was a major corporation with myriad policies and procedures pertaining to business travel? Does this mean that the request of the employee will be denied — with the employee out the value of the voucher? What if the employee was unable to take personal time off during a year — which is typically the period of time when an airline voucher is valid — for reasons related to the employer, which may include excessive business travel or lengthy and intensive projects?

Honesty is the best policy — but perhaps you have a different point of view…

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “Applying a Voucher After Purchasing a Ticket: Right or Wrong?”

  1. Darth Chocolate says:

    Um, sorry no. It is not fraud.

    You travel on a business trip and you are inconvenienced for whatever reason (in my case lost luggage on an international flight). True, the company bought the ticket, but the company is not the injured party; I am. The voucher is compensation TO ME.

    So on my next trip, I buy the ticket and apply the voucher. The full price shows up on the ticket and the amount on my CC is the net amount. I have been made whole for my inconvenience.

    Compare that to the scenario where I purchase a ticket for company business, and the trip get delayed. The ticket is non-refundable, but there is a change penalty. The trip gets rescheduled and applying the credit from the previous (delayed ticket), is applied to the new fare along with the change penalty. I only charge the company for the difference in fare. The company did not use the ticket, but they reimbursed me for it, so the credit is theirs.

    No an ethical dilemma at all. If you think it is, then you should have no problem giving all your FF miles/points to the company, since they paid for them.

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