Southwest Airlines has gone against the grain of oppressive traditional air travel and been offering more perks to passengers than its competitors. Up to two free checked bags per passenger, free flight changes and no cancelation penalties—what’s not to love? Except for the airline’s heinous boarding process, but that’s a story for another time.
Perhaps, having the ability to be flexible with no risk of losing out on money is enough to sway a potential purchaser. Plans change, and 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 monkey can do it—a smart monkey, but a monkey nonetheless.
But did you know that you can save money by rebooking the same flight if the price drops? The method requires minimum work, but you can reduce the cost of a flight significantly by being patient.
Step 1: Purchase a flight on Southwest.
Step 2: Monitor the prices leading up to your date of travel. If you see a lower price, cancel the existing reservation and rebook. Your flight can be replaced with the exact same flight, but as long as you change it while the price is lower than what you paid, you save money.
How to Rebook A Southwest Flight
If you find out that the price has dropped, go to My Trips in your Rapid Rewards account and click on either “Change flight” or “Cancel flight.” A list of new flight options will display the difference between the current reservation and the new one you’re about to make. As you can see, some choices cost more and others less. 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.
Because Southwest flights don’t show up on travel search engines, such as Google Flights or Hopper, you can’t set up an alert for a price drop, which means you have to perform your searches manually with Southwest directly. Depending on how much time you have left before you travel, keep checking every week or two whether your flights cost less.
Keep in mind that this strategy doesn’t always pan out, and you have to be prepared to pay the original price if it stays the same or goes up from when you purchased the ticket.
What Happens With the Leftover Cash
If you rebook your flight purchased on a credit/debit card, then the remaining balance is refunded in the form of credit in your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. You can put the credit toward another reservation within a year or it’ll expire. It might only be $9, but it’s $9 less you have to pay. 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 the original 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.
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?
[Image Source: Southwest Airlines]