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Can You Book Southwest Award Tickets and Change Dates After The March 31st Devaluation And Still Retain The Same Pre-Devalued Rate?

by on February 16, 2014 · 9 comments

in Southwest Airlines, Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Cynthia tweeted me this week to ask:

@thepointsguy – Regarding the Southwest devaluation: since Southwest doesn’t have change fees, could I buy award tickets now and change dates later to get a better rate?  Or will I end up paying the higher post devaluation fee anyway?”

Sadly, 2014 is the year of the airline devaluation. As of February 1, 2014 United increased the amount of miles it takes for an award ticket, especially for partner awards. Delta is going to devalue their program twice (as if once isn’t enough!) this year, and Southwest, the supposed “flyer-friendly” airline, is even devaluing their program come March 31, 2014.

The Southwest devaluation begins March 31, 2014.

The Southwest devaluation begins March 31, 2014.

Right now with Southwest, you can get about 1.8 cents per point when you redeem for “Wanna Get Away” fares at a rate of 60 Rapid Rewards points per dollar. After March 31, 2014 it will go down to about 1.4 cents per point since you will then have to redeem 70 points per dollar instead, which is about a 15% devaluation.

We should give Southwest some credit, as they did email Rapid Rewards members to let them know about the devaluation in September of 2013. They’ve given a pretty big booking window to get your tickets before the devaluation occurs at least-and right now you can book tickets until August. However, even that amount of time might not be enough to get your travel plans in order, and it appears that that’s the case for Cynthia.

Unfortunately for her, and the rest of us, any bookings OR changes made after March 31, 2014 will require that you pay the higher Wanna Get Away redemption rate if that’s the kind of award you’re booking. In fact, it’s all about booking really – if you book before March 31, you can fly after the devaluation, but any changes you make or new bookings you make after these dates will reflect the lower point value. Unfortunately, Southwest only has their schedule open for bookings until August, so there’s only so much you can do to get your future bookings in order. Hopefully they will extend it more by March 31, so that there are more opportunities for booking and getting those higher point values before the devaluation hits.

In conclusion, book now, or forever hold your peace. Or better said, forever lose those points!

Let me know if you have any other questions by messaging me on FacebookTweeting me or emailing me at [email protected]

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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  • PSL

    Southwest’s website states that on March 3, the schedule will be extended to October 31. (subject to change). I doubt there will be an additional extension by the March 31 deadline. I’m planning to book with points for an October trip, but if the dollar price drops more than 15 percent after March 31 – and I’ve seen many big price fluctuations – then it would still pay to rebook using points.

  • imtheman

    Do the math Mr. PG. Sixty points per dollar is 1.67 cents per point -rounded to 1.7 cents per point, not 1.8, The change is actually fro 1.67 to 1.42 cents per point, not from 1.8 to 1.4 as stated above, qite a difference.

  • Larry

    Perhaps TPG is referring to the fact that, notwithstanding the published rate of 60/$1 for WGA fares, you typically get 1.8 to 1.9 cents per point even taking into account the $5 taxes. Whether there will still be a bump above 1.4 is unknown.

  • Beavis

    The value is actually higher than 1.67 because the awards cover the taxes and fees, except for the $5.00 9/11 security fee. In my experience it usually works out to about 1.8

    The value is also enhanced by the fact that points bookings are fully refundable, unlike paid wanna-get-away fares.

  • Beavis

    Exactly. I see no reason to think there will not be a similar bump after the devaluation.

  • John

    Is he sober in this video? Some loooong pauses. Looks like he had a few too many on the inbound flight. Might explain the math.

  • thepointsguy

    Have you ever booked a Southwest award? The value is closer to 1.8 cents- check out this post http://thepointsguy.com/2012/06/using-chase-ultimate-rewards-to-book-southwest-tickets-at-up-to-1-8-cents-per-point/

  • thepointsguy

    This

  • thepointsguy

    You know what happens when you assume ;-)

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