How To Save Money and Rebook A Southwest Airlines Flight When The Fare Drops

There’s A LOT to be said for an airline that goes against the grain of oppressive traditional air travel and offers better perks than its competitors.

…or perhaps, being voted “2019 Program of the Year”, “2019 Best Customer Service”, and “2019 Best Redemption Availability” by frequent fliers around the world is all that needs to be said.

I mean…two free checked bags, no cancellation penalties, free flight changes – What’s not to love?

Ok…Ok…their boarding process can use some work but let’s save that for a different blog.

SOUTHWEST LOYALTY?

Prior to 2019, I hadn’t flown Southwest with any frequency. Typically, I chose flights where I would accrue miles that could be used for future international travel (e.g. Delta, American, United).

However, during the past year I have found myself on more Southwest flights than any other airline.

I had no intention of Southwest becoming my “go-to airline” but with an infant daughter that requires a stroller, a car seat, diapers, sippy cups, and many backup outfits, complimentary checked bags simplifies flying for me.

As the race to eliminate perks and pay for everything (e.g. free bags) continues across all airlines, I have found myself swayed by the simplicity of Southwest. 

PENALIZED FOR FLIGHT CHANGES

Personally, when it comes to buying a flight, 90% of my decision is dictated by the price. Like most people, the cheaper, the better. However, if you have ever had to change any details of a flight, you know what a pain it can be.

Typically, airlines will charge a “change fee” which is often hundreds of dollars and then they charge the “difference in fare.” Depending on when you bought the ticket, the changes could cost more than original ticket.

SOUTHWEST GETS IT!

Plans change! You shouldn’t be penalized for things that are, potentially, out of your control and Southwest understands that. Southwest doesn’t penalize a customer for wanting to alter departure time or cancel a flight altogether. In a customer-friendly move, the carrier makes changing a flight so easy, a caveman can do it (remember that commercial? …bum bum pssshhh).

THE BEST PART

But did you know that you can save money by rebooking the same flight if the price drops? It’s true! Rebooking requires minimum work and can reduce the overall cost of your flight significantly if you have a little patience.

I like simplification so here’s an example… 

HOW TO REBOOK A SOUTHWEST FLIGHT

Southwest offer sales frequently so there is a very good chance the price of your ticket may have changed. If you find out that the price has dropped, sign in to your Rapid Rewards account…

Click on “My Account”…

And click on either “Change flight” or “Cancel flight.” From there a list of new flight options will display the difference between your current reservation and the new one you’re about to make.

Currently on my SWA profile: My upcoming flight to Las Vegas

At that point, if you see a cheaper flight, you simply select the flight you want and confirm your choice.

The number of changes is unlimited, and you can keep changing your flight until the cost hits the lowest number you’ve seen.

THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Again, Southwest has gone against the grain and not become a partner with third-party travel sites. With this model, Southwest flights does not show up on travel search engines, such as Google Flights, Orbitz, or Hopper. Therefore, you can’t set up an ‘price drop alert.’ Ultimately, this means that you have to manually search on Southwest’s website/app for the lowest price. Depending on how much time you have left before you travel, keep checking, at least once a week to determine if your flights cost less.

Although it’s a little bit of a hassle (that can be done is 2 minutes) and sometimes doesn’t pan out…when it works, IT REALLY WORKS! But be aware that you will have to pay the original price if it stays the same or goes up from when you purchased the ticket.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY REFUND?

There are two circumstances here:
#1: You booked the original flight with a credit/debit card (we talk about credit cards on this site A LOT. Hopefully, you didn’t use a debit card.) *wink*
#2: You booked the original flight with Rapid Reward Points

If you booked your flight on a credit/debit card, then the remaining balance is refunded in the form of credit in your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. You have a year to apply the credit toward another reservation or it’ll expire. The best strategy is to look for a price drop during a Southwest sale, then your savings can be significant.

However, if you redeem Rapid Rewards Points to book your flight, then the difference in points will be added to your balance for use at any point in the future. Southwest uses a revenue-based award chart, which means that if the price in cash drops, the price in points drops with it.

Rapid Rewards points don’t expire so long as there’s activity on your account at least once per 24 months. If you have the option, using points offers even more flexibility in case you have to make new travel plans with Southwest Airlines.

FINAL STAMP

Flexibility goes a long way in the world of travel, and having the option to be both flexible and frugal is as rare as an oasis in the middle of a desert. The good news is, seeing extra money in your account isn’t a mirage.

Have you rebooked an existing flight on Southwest Airlines to save money before? How much cash were you able to save?

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