I received a travel voucher from American Airlines for an oversold flight. The gate agent told me I have to use the voucher within one year. It has an expiration date printed on it. By use, do they mean travel by, or book by the expiration date? For example, if my voucher expires in February, can I use it to purchase a flight in January to travel in March?
You have to book it within that year. Basically, it is equivalent to a cash discount and so you can use it up to the date on the voucher but travel can happen as far ahead as you can book.
This has happened to me with American and other airlines several times. The date specified is always the date in which you book.
Just to confirm, another example... If the voucher came from a reduced fare because of a change in the reservation, the original expiration date of the ticket(one year from purchase date) is not extended to the voucher; the voucher gets a new expiration date one year from the date it was issued and can apply, as the previous answer said, to 330 days past the date the voucher is used. So, Technically, any AA voucher can be used for travel up to 23 months from the original issue date(the date you made the Reservation change).
How to avoid losing a ticket's value at the last minute: Suppose you bought a ticket on 1/1/2021 for travel on 10/01/2021. The ticket was for a wedding. Suppose the couple eloped over the summer. Also suppose you had no where else to go for the rest of 2021. Two weeks before the ticket was to be used, change the reservation to the least expensive one-way fare in the country. American Eagle or something. After the change fee the remainder will be put in a voucher that can be used for Travel almost 2 years later. You would still be out some money, if the original ticket was 1st class non-stop, Miami to Seattle, making this move could save you 1,000s.