Trying to book a cheap flight for an upcoming family vacation? Check out these savings tricks and tips for flying Southwest — I’ve used them to save some serious money!
If you want to find more great ways to save on your next vacation, check out KCL’s travel tips.
1. Get a “price adjustment” if you see a lower fare after you’ve booked.
You’ve booked your flight and are prepping for your trip when all of a sudden you see a special-fare sale being shared all over Facebook. Ouch. Good thing you’re flying Southwest!
Sign in to your Southwest account to view the flight reservation and select the “Change Reservation” link. Follow the prompts to choose your new flight. If you paid with points, the difference will be returned to your account immediately. If you used cash, you’ll receive a voucher for the difference, or they’ll credit your original form of payment.
Originally booked over the phone? You’ll have to call Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA to have your flight adjusted.
2. Sign up for Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards.
This is one of the biggest tips for flying Southwest I can give you. Rapid Rewards is Southwest’s free mileage program and your golden ticket to free flights.
- Business Select Fares – earn 12 points per $1 spent
- Anytime Fares – earn 10 points per $1 spent
- Wanna Get Away Fares – earn 6 points per $1 spent
Reward members also have the opportunity to earn additional points by signing up for partner offers on dining, shopping, travel and more. The points can then be redeemed for flights — the number of points required depends on the flight.
Plus, as a Rapid Rewards member, Southwest will send you four free premium (aka alcoholic) drink coupons for every 10 one-way flights you take in a calendar year.
3. The more points you earn, the better your status.
Southwest has three status tiers: A-List, A-List Preferred and Companion Pass.
- A-List (25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35K points in a year): When you’re an A-lister, you earn priority boarding, 25% more points on each flight than the base points, priority check in and a few other envious perks.
- A-List Preferred (50 one-way fights, 70K points in a year): Same perks except double the base points, free WiFi and your own customer service number.
- Companion Pass (100 one-way flights, 125K points in a year): This is where it’s at, though. Achieve Companion Pass status and get over a year’s worth of free flights for a guest.
4. Get a free alcoholic drink when you fly Southwest on a holiday.
Due to COVID-19, Southwest isn’t doing food or beverage service on any flights. But, pre-pandemic, you could check out the onboard drink menu to see what boozy freebie you get when flying on one of these holidays:
- New Year’s Day
- Valentine’s Day
- St. Patrick’s Day
- June 18th (Southwest’s birthday)
- September 20th (Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card’s birthday)
5. Purchase extra Southwest Rapid Rewards drink coupons on eBay.
Need more in-flight drink tickets? Buy them on eBay. They cost an average of $15 for four unused tickets! Note that selling them is risky, as Southwest, if they find out, has the right to revoke your membership.
6. Check-in two pieces of luggage for free every time you fly Southwest.
As long as your bags aren’t over 50 pounds or bigger than 62 inches, you’re golden. Anything more than that is $75 one way.
7. Set your alarm for 24 hours before a flight.
Do this and the chances of you getting an aisle or window seat significantly increases.
But you gotta make sure to check in as soon as the 24-hour mark hits. And I mean ASAP. People are aggressive about their seating! If you wait even 2 minutes after the 24-hour mark, you may end up in the dreaded middle-seat C group….
8. Buy the Southwest airline EarlyBird Check-In for $15 if you’re picky about seating.
Southwest doesn’t do assigned seating, so if you want first dibs on seats, you’re better off buying EarlyBird Check-In for $15-$25 one-way. This ensures you’re checked in automatically 36 hours prior to your flight and puts you into the A group for boarding.
9. Get early boarding automatically if you’re flying with kids under six.
You don’t need to worry about getting the Southwest airline EarlyBird check-in if you have kids under six.
After the A group boards, families with children under the age of six will be allowed to board next, allowing you all to sit together for the ride.
10. Check your carry-on bag at the gate if you’re boarding in a late-B or lower boarding group.
If you’re on a full flight and find yourself in a late boarding group, there’s a high chance there won’t be any more space for your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment.
Instead of discovering this only after reaching the back of the plane, hand your carry-on over at the gate before you board.
Do this, and you won’t have to worry about stowing your luggage; park yourself in the first available seat you see!
11. Need to change your Southwest flight? Do it for free.
Well, not technically free-free. You’ll still have to pay the difference in fare if there is one, but you won’t be penalized with a Change Fee which is one of the best Southwest airline deals.
Southwest is the only U.S. airline that does this. Other airlines charge up to $200 to change flights!
12. Get special fares weekly when you sign up for Click ‘N Save.
Receive special fare and contest announcements, notice of giveaways and the occasional free drink coupon when you sign up for free Click ‘N Save weekly emails.
13. Buy your Southwest tickets on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m.
Why Tuesdays? That’s when Southwest typically announces weekly special fares in their Click ‘N Save emails. These weekly Southwest airline deals only last about three days and usually end on Thursday of that week. Be one of the first to grab a special fare before seats sell out!
14. Earn your Companion Pass status in January to get free flights for a guest for nearly two years.
Earn the Companion Pass by either flying 100 flight segments or earning 125,000 points. Once you earn that status and choose that lucky someone to fly with you for free, you’re entitled to those perks for the remainder of the calendar year in which you earn the status — and you get to keep your status for the entire year immediately following.
So if you earn your Companion Pass in January 2021, your guest will fly for free until Dec. 31, 2022 — that’s nearly two years! Earn your status in November 2021, and you’ll only get 13 months of free flights.
15. Join the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program and earn extra points when you go out to eat.
For every dollar you spend at qualifying restaurants (and believe me, there are a lot of them — both local and national chains), you’ll get three points if you sign up for email notifications or two points if you aren’t signed up.
Plus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program often has bonus offers like 500 extra points when you spend at least $25 at your first restaurant. And you’ll get 300 bonus points every time you accrue 1,000 points by dining.
16. Don’t upgrade your ticket to “Business Select” fare at the gate for $30-$50.
If you upgrade to this type of ticket, you’ll get A-group boarding, but you won’t get any of the other cushy perks of Business select, like premium drink vouchers. You’re better off paying $15 for Early Bird Check in and buying a drink for $6 – $7.
17. Sit in rows 1, 9 or 17 to get served drinks first.
Typically flight attendants will stop and serve these rows first.
18. Pack a snack because no hot meals or sandwiches are served on any Southwest flights.
A small package or two of peanuts and pretzels will only take you so far on a five-hour flight.
Make sure to pack a snack or buy something at the terminal to save yourself from hunger pangs — especially when traveling with the kiddos.
19. Aisle-seat armrests can be lifted up for easy exiting and comfort.
There’s a hidden latch underneath the armrest in the rear that can be pushed so the armrest will raise. This is perfect for when you need more legroom or need to get up in-flight.
20. Check Southwest Airlines’ magazine for parking and restaurant coupons.
Bored and have nothing to do on your flight? Read The Magazine (not the catchiest name) in front of you! You’ll frequently find non-airport parking and restaurant coupons.
21. Flying with a child under 11? Check if your flight offers cheaper child fares.
Not all flights offer special rates for accompanied children, but it’s worth checking.
Southwest even offers affordable infant fares for babies under the age of two (child seat required). Just remember to compare child fares with ‘Wanna Get Away’ prices, as those are often cheaper.
Find out if your flight offers a cheap child fare by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
22. TV shows and games are free on Southwest flights with Wi-Fi.
Watch on-demand episodes of your favorite shows on over 18 different channels including Food Network, ESPN, Bravo and Disney, plus get free movies and texting.
23. Save up to 6% when you buy discounted Southwest Airlines gift cards.
To get an even better Southwest airline deal, head to Target or Target.com and use your REdCard to save an automatic 5% on a Southwest gift card.
Or, go to Sam’s Club where they’ll often sell three $50 Southwest gift cards for only $143.
24. Manage your flights on the fly with the mobile app.
Cancel and update reservations; access your boarding pass; view your boarding position, gate information and more right from the Southwest Airlines app. It’s free to download and is an essential tool for all frequent fliers.
25. Follow Southwest on Facebook.
Never miss a flash sale or program update again by “liking” Southwest Airlines on Facebook. Plus, you’ll stay tuned in to all the fun shenanigans Southwest likes to share on their Facebook page.
Have questions? Ask right on their wall — they have a 91% response rate and will respond within a few hours.
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