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Southwest schedule extended: Book now to save on flights through April 10, 2023

Sept. 08, 2022
8 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


If you have yet to book flights for next spring, now is an excellent time to snag Southwest flights.

Although some carriers allow you to book flights about 11 months in advance, Southwest extends its booking window in batches of only a few months at a time.

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Previously, you could only book Southwest flights through the beginning of March. But this morning, Southwest extended its schedule through April 10, 2023. So, now is an excellent time to snag a good deal on Southwest flights for next spring. Here’s what you need to know about maximizing Southwest’s most recent schedule extension.

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Why book when Southwest extends its schedule

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Booking flights quickly when Southwest extends its schedule can save you serious money. Although availability will probably still be around for a while, you likely won’t find lower prices than are available now for peak travel dates.

Southwest’s change and cancellation policy also makes it easy to book now, even if you aren’t sure you’ll take the trip. Here are Southwest’s cancellation rules if you cancel at least 10 minutes before a flight’s scheduled departure:

  • If you paid for a Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fare: You will receive travel funds.
  • If you paid for an Anytime or Business Select fare: You can request a refund to your original form of payment or accept travel funds.
  • If you redeemed Southwest points: Points will automatically go back into the account from which they were booked and you can request that Southwest refund taxes and fees to your original form of payment.

So, you can cancel your flight for free if your family’s travel plans change. Plus, if the price decreases after you book, you can rebook and receive the difference as travel funds or points. So, booking Southwest flights for trips you hope to take is a very low-risk situation.

Related: How to get seats together as a family on Southwest Airlines

How to score the best Southwest deals

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Here are five of my favorite tips for getting the best deal on Southwest flights.

Book right now

I recommend booking Southwest flights immediately when the booking window opens, especially if you want to fly during peak times. Although flights have already opened up, you may still be able to snag some good deals.

As mentioned above, there is minimal risk with booking Southwest flights due to the airline’s flexible policies. So, you may want to book now even if you are not 100% certain of your plans. If you want a full refund to your original payment method, redeem Southwest points for your flights or book more expensive Anytime or Business Select fares.

Related: Is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Due to the airline’s flexible award policies, redeeming Southwest points is my preferred method for booking a Southwest flight. If you need to cancel a flight booked with points, your points go straight back into your Rapid Rewards account and you can get the taxes and fees you paid returned to your card.

Earning a sign-up bonus on a new Southwest credit card is an excellent way to boost your account balance, but that will take some time. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio if you have an Ultimate Rewards-earning card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Related: 9 cool places you didn’t know you could fly on Southwest

Use a Companion Pass, but you can add it later

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

The Southwest Companion Pass is my favorite benefit in the travel industry. After all, a friend or family member can fly with you for free (plus taxes and fees) as a perk of the Companion Pass. The pass typically expires on Dec. 31 of the year after the year in which you earn it. But Southwest occasionally offers promotional Companion Passes that are valid for shorter periods. If you register by Sep. 8, 2022, you can get a two-month Southwest Companion Pass with one round-trip flight.

If you do not yet have a Companion Pass but plan to earn one before your flight, you can still book now and add your companion’s ticket later. The only requirement for adding your companion to your reservation is that there must be at least one seat left for sale. Just keep in mind that if you are flying during peak times on popular routes, there is a chance that your flight will sell out if you wait too long.

Related: How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass

Have alternative dates in mind

If you have some flexibility, use that to your advantage when booking your flights. You can use Southwest’s low-fare calendar to check the least expensive dates for the flights you want.

The most expensive days to fly are typically Fridays and Sundays. So, if you can shift your dates a few days, you might find the price significantly less. Of course, missing work or taking kids out of school might not work for everyone, but having backup dates might pay off.

Related: Everything you need to know about the best seats on Southwest Airlines

Look for price drops

If your flight happens to go down in price between when you book and when you fly, you can easily get the difference in Rapid Rewards points back into your account. Of course, these flexible policies still exist when you pay for your fare with cash, but you’ll end up with Southwest travel funds.

Related: How to re-price a Southwest flight when the fare decreases

Example pricing

KATIE GENTER/THE POINTS GUY

Here are some sample fares I came across for travel in March. As you’ll see, you can save a lot of money if your dates (and willingness to fly connecting itineraries) are flexible.

Houston to Cancun, Mexico

There are plenty of ways to save on your next trip to Cancun with points and miles. And, starting at under 4,000 Rapid Rewards points (plus about $37 in taxes and fees, which you’d need to pay regardless of how you book), you can fly to Cancun from Houston. Once in Mexico, check out our ultimate checklist of things to do on your Cancun trip.

SOUTHWEST.COM

Related: 10 countries you didn’t know you could fly to on Southwest

Oakland, California, to Lihue, Hawaii

You can fly to Lihue (on the island of Kauai) for just 11,118 Southwest Rapid Rewards points plus about $6 in taxes and fees on some dates. You can even fly 2-for-1 to Hawaii with your Southwest Companion Pass.

SOUTHWEST.COM

Atlanta to Orlando

For those looking to visit Orlando next year, you can fly to Orlando from Atlanta from 7,288 points (plus about $6 in taxes and fees). Check out our stories about Universal Orlando secrets and the best Orlando hotels for large families while planning your trip.

SOUTHWEST.COM

Remember that Southwest allows all passengers to bring two checked bags (up to 50 pounds each) for free on its flights, a notable differentiator from most other U.S. airlines.

Related: Southwest baggage fees and how to avoid paying them

Bottom line

Knowing the ins and outs of booking a Southwest flight can allow you to book the best flights possible for your family at the lowest cost. Those looking to travel this spring should book now to score the best deals on Southwest.

If you need to book flights further out, know that Southwest plans to extend its schedule again on October 27 for flights through July 10, 2023.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter and Andrew Kunesh.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases