Southwest schedule extended: Book now to save on flights through Sept. 5

Dec 16, 2021

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


If you have yet to book your family’s vacation for next summer, 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.

Until today, you could only book Southwest flights through June 4, 2022. But this morning, Southwest extended its schedule through Sept. 5, 2022. As such, now is an excellent time to snag a good deal on Southwest flights for next summer.

Here’s what you need to know about maximizing Southwest’s most recent schedule extension.

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In This Post

Why book when Southwest extends its schedule

Southwest aircraft seating
(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Summertime is one of the most popular times of the year for families to fly, so 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 today for peak travel dates.

Southwest’s friendly change and cancellation policy also make it easy to book now, even if you aren’t sure you’ll end up taking a 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 fare: You will receive travel funds that are valid up to one year from your original purchase date.
  • If you paid for an Anytime and Business Select fare: You can request a refund to your original form of payment. You can also accept travel funds, which would be valid up to one year from your original purchase date.
  • If you redeemed Southwest points: Points will automatically go back into the account from which they were booked and you can request that Southwest refunds taxes and fees to your original form of payment.

So, you can cancel your flight for free if your family’s travel plans change. But if you book the least expensive Wanna Get Away fares, your funds will be tied up in less-flexible travel funds.

If the price decreases after you book, you can rebook and receive the difference back as a credit or points. So, booking Southwest flights today for trips you hope to take is a very low-risk booking situation.

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

How to score the best Southwest deals on summer flights

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

Book right now

woman and baby with laptop and credit card
(Photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images)

I recommend booking Southwest flights immediately when the booking window opens, especially if you want to fly during peak times. Although flights already opened up this morning, 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 to get a full refund to your original payment method, redeem Southwest points for your flights or book more expensive Anytime or Business Select fares. However, even if you book Wanna Get Away fares, you can still get a refund if you cancel within 24 hours of booking or travel credits if you cancel at least 10 minutes before your flight’s scheduled departure.

Related: Is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest

Southwest plane
(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Redeeming Southwest points is my preferred method for booking a Southwest flight due to the airline’s flexible award policies. 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. But, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio if you have an Ultimate Rewards card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred CardInk Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

First, you’ll need to link your Ultimate Rewards and Southwest accounts, which only takes a minute or two. Log in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and go to “Transfer to Travel Partners.” Scroll down to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards option and select “Transfer Points.”

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points
(Screenshot courtesy of ultimaterewardspoints.chase.com)

You’ll need to select the recipient and enter the recipient’s Southwest Rapid Rewards number. You can transfer points to yourself or an authorized user on your account (who must be a household member or business owner). After clicking the “Continue” button, your information will be saved in your frequent travel programs, even if you did not transfer any points.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points
(Screenshot courtesy of ultimaterewardspoints.chase.com)

Then, hover over the Southwest Rapid Rewards box and click “Transfer Points.” Enter the number of points you want to transfer, click “Continue” and confirm the transfer. Note that you can only transfer points in 1,000-point increments.

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

Use a Companion Pass, but you can add it later

Boarding a Southwest flight
Your child could be your companion. (Photo by Summer Hull/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/fees) as a perk for the Companion Pass. The pass typically expires on Dec. 31 of the year after which you earn it. But, Southwest occasionally offers promotional Companion Passes that are valid for shorter periods.

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 the 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 for your vacation schedule, 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 to be significantly less. Of course, missing work or taking kids out of school or camp might not work for all families, but having backup dates might pay off.

Related: Expensive airfare and increasing gas prices: Here’s how you can still save on holiday travel

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 a nontransferable Southwest travel credit instead, which expires 12 months after your original booking.

Related: Quick Points: Save big by catching hotel and airline price drops

Example pricing in Aug. 2022

Island-hopping on Southwest in Hawaii pre-pandemic
Island-hopping on Southwest in Hawaii before the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Here are some samples fares I came across for travel in Aug. 2022. 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

There are plenty of ways to save on your next trip to Cancun with points and miles. And, starting at under 5,000 Rapid Rewards points (plus about $34 of 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 21 things to do on your Cancun trip.

Southwest award pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com)

Oakland to Lihue

With Southwest now flying to Hawaii, you can fly to Lihue (Kauai) for just 12,446 Southwest Rapid Rewards points plus about $6 in taxes and fees. You can even fly 2-for-1 to Hawaii with your Southwest Companion Pass.

Southwest award pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com)

Washington, D.C. to Providence

For those looking to embrace summertime in New England, you can fly to Providence for less than 7,000 points (plus about $6 in taxes and fees). From there, you can head to Cape Cod and or even take the ferry over to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard.

Southwest award pricing
(Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com)

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 next summer should book now to score the best deals on Southwest.

Additional reporting by Katie Genter.

Featured image by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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