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Southwest Launches Its New ‘No Show’ Policy Today

by on September 13, 2013 · 10 comments

in American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, US Airways, Virgin America

As announced earlier this year, Southwest Airlines will now be enforcing a “no show” policy for Wanna Get Away and DING fares, and will no longer be as lenient about passengers who simply do not show up for their flights.

Southwest Airlines will enforce a "no show" policy as of today.

Southwest Airlines will enforce a “no show” policy as of today.

As of today, September 13, 2013, the new rule means that passengers holding non-refundable Wanna Get Away or DING tickets booked after May 10 will lose the value of their round-trip ticket if they don’t cancel or change their flight at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure.

Until now, Southwest had one of the most lenient and flexible attitudes towards anyone who wanted to change their travel plans last minute, letting them get the entire value of their flight repaid back in credit or Rapid Rewards points (depending on how they paid) if they didn’t show up – without even having to call to request it. That meant that you could oversleep or simply change your mind, and you would not be penalized.

Passengers now have up until 10 minutes before boarding to change their minds.

Passengers now have up until 10 minutes before boarding to change their minds.

The new policy only refers to Wanna Getaway Fares or DING Fares booked after May 10, 2013, and does not affect the pricier Anytime Fares and Business Select Fares or those flights booked with points. However, if you booked the higher fare for one leg of a trip and a non-refundable Wanna Get Away or Ding fare for another leg, you are still slapped with the no-show penalty.

Southwest says that the new rule is to help them judge how many empty seats there are in advance so that they can resell them.

Unlike most airlines that charge hefty fees to alter flights, Southwest still allows customers to cancel or change their reservation before departure without any fees or penalties, and the “no show” policy only kicks in 10 minutes before take off.

I decided to take a look at other airlines to see how they compare to Southwest even with their stricter rules.

American Airlines has a "cancel it or lost it" policy.

American Airlines has a “cancel it or lost it” policy.

American Airlines: American charges a $200 change fee plus fare difference on domestic tickets these days (excluding its new Choice fares). It also has a “cancel or lose it” rule regarding non-fundable tickets. If a customer has purchased an AA non-refundable fare ticket that allows changes and wants to make a voluntary change to their itinerary, they must cancel their ticketed flight reservations prior to departure time. If not the ticket will have no value. If canceled before then, you must travel within one year of the original ticket issue date. Customers who no-show a flight without canceling will lose the value of the remaining fare.

Delta: Delta charges a $200 change fee plus fare difference on domestic flights, but as I discovered when I tried to alter a trip last October, when viewing my reservation on Delta.com -> Travel Information -> Itineraries & Check-in, there is a button that is called “Request Refund” that sends you to a form to fill out. I luckily got a full refund of $152 just for asking!

JetBlue No Show

With JetBlue you forfeit the ticketed fare if you don’t show up.

JetBlue: If a JetBlue customer does not cancel their flight prior to the scheduled departure time resulting in a no-show, the ticketed fare is forfeited. However, if they call to change on the same day of departure then they can rebook to any flight the same day for a $50 change fee. For no-shows on a refundable flight, the money on the reservation will be placed into a JetBlue credit for future travel within one year.

United Airlines: Like the other legacy carriers, United raised their change fee from $150 to $200, and defines a no-show as “Inventory spoilage caused by the failure to issue tickets and/or cancel ticketed or unticketed reservations.”

US Airways: When flying on US Airways, domestic flight changes are subject to a $200 fee and international flight changes are subject to a $250-$450 fee, in addition to any difference in fare. If a customer is a no-show and any part of the ticket is unused after the ticketed departure date and the reservation has not been canceled, then ticket has no value.

Virgin America: Simply stated on their website, Virgin America’s no-show policy is that if you fail to turn up for your flight, the airline will cancel that reservation and all subsequent segments for continuing or return flights.  On non-refundable fares, the fare or Elevate points spent will be forfeited. They politely ask that you contact them before you departure time if you are going to miss your flight, and they will reschedule or cancel it.

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  • A.J.

    I think its a smart move. They are still the most flexible, and most Customer friendly when it comes to changing or cancelling one’s itenarary.

  • A.J.

    Also TPG thanks for the comparison to other carriers.

  • Jay3381

    It’s just common courtesy….great idea

  • Deaaaakins

    Pretty much the only benefit cutback that I’m okay with. Penalty free no-shows aren’t fair to the airline. In effect you would “occupy” 2 revenue seats (one on the original flight, one that you changed it to after the fact) while only paying for one seat.

  • tweetivism

    American’s policy is a bit rough. However, I had a death in the family once, and they were very flexible, accepted verbal evidence, and I even received a credit because the fare decreased.

  • NguyenVanFalk

    Amazed you got a refund from Delta just by asking. I paid $200 in change fees, had the new flight canceled (by DL operations, not due to wx) was rebooked on a crappier flight than my original booking and then had to argue with two extremely rude CSRs on the phone. Finally, I appealed via a long, ranting email and was granted a refund weeks later.

  • James

    Seems to be a fair deal.

  • Mark

    Jetblue’s same day change fee is $50 not $100. Also, Virgin America also offers a same day change for $50 but the crappy part is you have to do it at the airport unlike JetBlue that allows you to do at home starting at midnight of the day you travel. The other nice thing is unlike southwest and almost every other airline you don’t have to pay the difference in the ticket price.

  • J

    TPG (and Crew)– I’m touristing (vs my normal traveling) and going back through a few posts. Thank you all so much for posting this reminder. I usually check about a half dozen blogs and feel like I’m getting very little valuable info from them these days, unlike this wonderful reminder. I definitely value the ‘Big idea’ posts, but let us never underestimate the little reminders which can make a big difference to our travels (not that I’d use this particular instance, but the idea applies generally). Thanks again, all!
    ~from our beautiful nation’s capitol*… *aside from the tragedy which took place earlier today

  • Jason May

    Here’s the problem with the policy: They enacted it with no grace period and little education. I have been flying with them 15 years. I have had their customer service reps in the past literally tell me the easiest way to change a flight is to not show up and then use the funds. So, they create a learned customer behavior and then swipe the rug out from under that.
    They claimed they did due diligence by notifying the customer of the change, but the only notification I received (in hindsight) was at the very bottom of my itinerary. One that looked the same as every other itinerary I have received. Who reads the fine print on something they’ve read countless times before? It was NOT discussed in the follow up email reminder of my flight.
    Had Southwest had a grace period, where they re-educated loyal customers, one in which a fine or partial fee was not re-funded–fine. But, instead, my wife and I lost over $500 on our tickets. Safe to say, I won’t be flying with them anymore. Their prices went up. Their Rapid Rewards system became just like any other airlines, and now their customer service and flexibility is even worse. So, you get the same airline policies as everyone else but you still have the cattle car boarding.

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