Can I Redeem My Airline Voucher for Partner Travel?

Aug 28, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week — Mondays and Fridays — by TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig.

Airlines issue travel vouchers for a variety of reasons, be it compensation for denied boarding, a broken seat or an extended delay, or to cover the balance of an unused nonrefundable ticket — while most bookings can’t be refunded to the form of payment, you can get a voucher that covers the remaining value, less applicable change fees. These vouchers do come along with some restrictions, though, which is what TPG reader Hamza wanted to clarify when he reached out via Facebook

Air Canada says I can cancel my flight and receive credit if I pay a $200 cancellation fee. Can I use the remaining credit on any Star Alliance flight, or only on flights operated by Air Canada?

TPG Reader Hamza

In addition to important restrictions, which I’ll go over in a moment, Air Canada adds some confusion by issuing several types of credits. In the case of a voluntary cancellation, which describes Hamza’s situation, once you cancel your flight, a nonrefundable ticket will retain its original value. You can apply the value toward a new flight booking for the same passenger only, and travel must begin within one year of the date the original ticket was issued.

You can use this credit to cover both Air Canada flights and partner flights with an Air Canada flight number (known as codeshare flights), but that won’t include all Star Alliance routes — if you’re trying to use an Air Canada credit to book a Thai Airways flight from Hong Kong to Phuket, you’ll probably be out of luck. Credit will not be issued for any leftover value, so if you book a $1,000 flight, cancel that and use the credit for a $500 flight, you’ll lose the difference in value. Additionally, you’ll be responsible for paying the original ticket’s change fee separately, which in Hamza’s case is $200.

You may be able to use your Air Canada credit for a connecting flight within Europe. Photo by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons.
You may be able to use your Air Canada credit for a connecting flight within Europe. Photo by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia Commons.

Other credits are issued in the form of a Miscellaneous Charges Order (MCO), also known as a paper travel voucher, which can only be redeemed with a travel agent, an Air Canada airport ticketing agent or by mail to the airline’s refund department. Air Canada also issues e-MCOs, or Electronic Travel Vouchers, which function in a similar way but can also be redeemed over the phone or online. Both are valid for one year from the date of issue — you can travel after the one-year cutoff as long as the flight is ticketed within the first year.

Unlike the first scenario, MCOs and e-MCOs retain any residual value, so you can redeem them for less than the full value of the voucher without forfeiting the balance. These vouchers can be transferred to someone else, but they only cover the base fare of a ticket — taxes and surcharges must be paid separately. Additionally, Air Canada may choose to grant a one-year extension as long as you contact the airline (by phone for e-MCOs or in person for paper vouchers) before the original expiration date.

Many other airlines issue similar types of credit — retained value with a canceled nonrefundable ticket and electronic travel vouchers — and carry similar restrictions. Of the various credit types, travel vouchers are often a bit more flexible, though you may be limited to booking the carrier’s own flights, excluding codeshares and partner redemptions.

Thanks for the question, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at

The All-New United Quest℠ Card

WELCOME OFFER: Up to 100,000 bonus miles


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X miles on United® purchases

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80K bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 20K bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months
  • $250 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X miles on United® purchases, 2X miles at restaurants, on select streaming services & all other travel, 1X on all other purchases
  • Earn 3X miles on United Airlines purchases
  • Earn 2X miles at restaurants and on select streaming services
  • Earn 2X miles on all other travel
  • Earn 1X mile on all other purchases
  • Each year, receive a $125 credit on United® purchases and two 5k-mile anniversary award flight credits. Terms apply.
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent, Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.