Video SRQ: How Does Southwest Airlines Deal With Fare Changes

by on March 31, 2013 · 15 comments

in Southwest, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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This week on Twitter, TPG follower Laura wanted to know how Southwest Airlines deals with fare changes:

@thepointsguy do you know how SWA does fare changes? Say my flight drops in price and I want to rebook?”

Southwest makes it very easy to change your ticket, without having to pay extra fees. All you have to do is call up Southwest customer service at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA  and explain to the representative that the price of your flight dropped, and ask to be rebooked at the price of the new flight, and you’ll automatically get a voucher for future travel. You will not get a refund on your credit card, but it is better than nothing. Southwest doesn’t charge any fees to do this, and in that regards are very friendly about it.

Now with the other major airlines like American, Delta and United, generally there is a $150 change fee for a domestic trip and a $250 change fee for an international itinerary. So unless your price drops by that much, it’s not worth it to reprice at the lower level. But, if for some reason you purchase a ticket at an unusually high price, keep checking and if for some reason a ticket on your itinerary does drop by more than those thresholds, you can call. They will charge the change fee, but you will then get a voucher good for future travel on the airline.

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This is generally the rule with hotels as well. With refundable hotel rates, often you have up until the day before you arrive to cancel. So once you make a hotel reservation, keep checking because if you see a lower price, you can cancel your original reservation and rebook at the lower price.

The same goes for car rentals. That’s why websites like Autoslash, although it’s no longer supported by some of the major car rental companies, will continuously check to see if the price has dropped for you.

With airlines though, there’s no tool that I’m aware of that will automatically tell you if the price drops on the same exact flights, but if anyone has tools they use to save money on flights after they book, please feel free to share.

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.

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  • Mordy

    Doesn’t the flight need to be in the same fare class? For example if I book a Y fare on Delta, that same Y fare has to be the one that fell in price?

  • EB

    TripIt will track the prices on your itineraries and notify you if the price drops. It’s one of the features of their pro subscription. It’s also smart enough not to notify you unless the change is greater than the change fee.

  • AB

    You can make changes to southwest flights online as well:

  • Ben will track ticket prices for your exact flight automatically and will send you a notification when the price drops – a very helpful feature when booking travel on AirTran or Southwest!

  • AceK

    When do southwest fares ever go down? Their pricing model is so simple, I’ve only seen them go up as the date of departure approaches.

  • ssk

    Alaska Air will also give you a voucher if the price drops–I don’t think they charge a fee either for that

  • Jon

    This is Southwest. No need to worry about fare classes.

  • Jon

    They fluctuate, and go down often when they have fare sales.

  • Jon

    Agreed – no need to call unless you want to have your hand held through the process. And also keep in mind that the voucher credit must be used by the same person that the flight was originally ticketed for. And, if you book with points instead of with cash, the points go straight back into your account (no voucher required…and no limitation on who can use the points later).

  • Brent Busboom

    Is there any sort of rough schedule for Southwest fare sales? I missed one back in early March (or around in there) that would have made my ticket half the current price. In other words, is there usually one a month? One around the major holidays (Memorial day being the next one)? etc.

  • Jamison

    when you book a flight on, it checks daily and automatically if the same airfare has dropped. If it has dropped, you will get a check back for the difference from Orbitz

  • UAPhil

    In most ways Southwest is much more flexible about changes than other airlines. But there are a few gotchas. With Southwest, voucher-paid travel must be completed by the expiration date. And, if you use $10 in voucher funds that expire a month from now to partially pay for a $300 ticket, the entire $300 expires a month from now. With most other airlines, vouchers must be used by the expiration date, but travel can be completed after the expiration date (and, if you’re careful, you can “roll funds over” for many years if needed). Also, some other airlines allow vouchers to be used to pay for another person’s travel.

  • Bobby

    Just tried it, and it doesn’t work with southwest

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  • frequentfly

    Rebooking online just worked fine for me, saved the equivalent of $50 in points, and didn’t forfeit the Earlybird boarding fee that I had paid.

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