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!

  • Jayson said,

    Excellent. Anything that upsets the entitled is a-ok, by me.

  • FindAWay said,

    You might want to change ” the amount paid (or if points were used) will be lost” in your post a bit as it directly contradicts the following post from the Southwest representative on FlyerTalk: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20652160-post11.html

    In other words, points won’t be lost if points were used.

  • Norm said,

    Although I have literally had pages of SW reservations in the past I don’t consider this change to be unreasonable. Many passengers try to fly standby but SW cannot release that seat if you have a valid ticket. By calling ahead to cancel you will protect 100% of the full value of your funds while potentially helping another person who needs to travel. You also help SW keep their planes full which benefits all of us in terms of keeping fares low.

    Sounds fair to me.

  • Neal said,

    I’m an A-lister with Southwest, and I am always changing flights, cancelling flights, etc. I appreciate the fact that I can cancel a flight right before I leave and not lose a penny. This sounds like a very reasonable policy to me. It is common courtesy for a passenger to cancel a reservation that the pax won’t be using so that the seat can quickly become available for someone else who might need it.

  • jorge said,

    Very reasonable and generous. Please let other travelers fly if you cant ( could be somebody that needs to attend to a funeral or a sick relative).

  • Well Traveled Mile said,

    Although the no shows were overly generous, I think the change is completely fair. Southwest still has some of the best policies in my opinion.

  • James said,

    Dear Southwest- Air Tran PR person thank you for applauding this new less customer friendly policy. It follows in the wake of such post merger changes as the new “improved” ff program where we are have the privilege of getting less flights for more miles and the improved, I mean done away with drink voucher program. Truly Southwest is on its way to joining such airline greats as American, US Air, and United.

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