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For a long time now you could simply not show up for your Southwest flight and no penalty would apply. You’d simply get an email a few days later saying that you have X credits tied to a certain reservation or X number of points have been deposited back into your account – the exact same scenario as if you cancelled your flight ahead of time. This left no incentive for the passenger to cancel a flight if they needed to and left Southwest with empty seats that they were not able to sell ahead of time.
Starting September 13, 2013 (for flights booked after May 10, 2013), if a reservation is not cancelled prior to the flight taking off (within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure time), the amount paid will be lost. This only applies to Wanna Getaway Fares or DING fares. While the forgetful might not agree with this, I actually think it is a great plan. It simply takes just a few minutes (if that) to cancel a flight – either by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA or doing it online at www.southwest.com. I do not think the airline should be penalized due to a passenger simply forgetting. I personally would prefer them to sell the seat as a way to keep revenue fares lower for all other passengers.
A Company Representative also stated: “Rapid Rewards points, Companion travel, and Standard Award seats are not impacted by this policy.” So if your flight is booked with points you actually don’t have to worry about this rule – although I’d still recommend cancelling to allow others to fly.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the rest of the itinerary will also be cancelled. So if you were planning on cancelling the outbound flight, but taking the return flight, that return flight will be cancelled – so be careful!
This really should not have a major impact on folks at all, just remember to cancel if you need to – even if it is last minute!