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How to Rebook Southwest Tickets When Fares Drop

How to Rebook Southwest Tickets When Fares Drop
Anya Kartashova

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.

In Conclusion

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]

View Comments (7)

7 Comments

  1. tvhead

    May 24, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Depending upon the fare class that you purchased, the value of a cancelled ticket may be refunded back to you.

  2. snidely

    May 25, 2019 at 9:31 am

    SWA (WN) used to be a low cost airline. Within Calif. it now costs more to fly from SF area airports to So. Cal. airports than to NY, Boston, Miami etc. (Usually take Jet Blue on those flites.) Almost Never travel w. checked bags.
    It looks like Alaska Air mite be starting to cover these routes. Eg. Costs around $200 OAK-SAN.
    They have 6 flites/day. Plenty of room for competition.

  3. snidely

    May 25, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Forgot to add that they seem to cancel more flites (for no reason) that are often fully booked 2-5 hours before flite time than other carriers.

  4. Captain ZZ

    May 25, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Without a doubt Southwest is the stand alone that doesn’t invoke predatory fees when you change a flight or check a bag. One small cautionary note…a heads up so to speak… Using the example above, if your fare drops $9 and you rebook the flight for the $9 credit, be aware that when you use the $9 on a new flight, combined with say $191 to cover a $200 fare , that the whole $200 will now have the earlier ((frequently a lot earlier) expiration date of a year from when you first booked your initial flight. Lets say the $9 credit comes from a flight originally booked in January and the new flight you are using the credit is booked in August for travel later in the fall. Now the entire funds for the August booked trip will evaporate in just a few months should you cancel rather than a whole year later had you paid in full. That $9 savings could turn into, using this example, a $191 loss if you unexpectedly cancel your flight and find you can’t travel in the short time before the funds expire.

  5. Susan4

    May 25, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Be sure to keep track of all credit info including confirmation numbers. Southwest doesn’t show cash credits on your Account page. If I am wrong please tell me where this info is hidden.

  6. kenish

    May 27, 2019 at 11:26 am

    “You can put the credit toward another reservation within a year or it’ll expire”

    Specifically, all travel must be *completed* within a year of the original purchase (ticket issue) date. In other words, if you purchase a ticket on 5/26/19 and later receive a series of credits, the original credit expires 5/25/20. When that credit is applied to a future travel, all travel on the new ticket must be completed by 5/25/20. If several credits are combined to buy a new ticket, the earliest expiration date applies.

  7. robnbrwn

    June 7, 2019 at 11:26 am

    I’m always so surprised when people complain about the boarding process for Southwest. I’ve been flying them for years now, and I LOVE it. Everybody seems to be self-regulating on the boarding order. If it’s *really* important to you to get boarded first it’s $15, which is pretty cheap. And most of my southwest flights are boarded and ready to take off in less than half the time of all the other airlines I have to use for work, or overseas.

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