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Currently, you can only book a Southwest flight through November 4, 2016. Unlike other airlines that allow you to book 330 days in advance, Southwest opens up their reservations window a few months at a time. A few weeks ago I wrote that on June 2, 2016, Southwest will extend their reservation system to allow you to book through January 4, 2017. However, I just saw on the Points, Miles, and Martinis blog that Southwest has pushed up the date, and starting tomorrow you will actually be able to book those flights! That means, you can book for Thanksgiving, Christmas, School Vacation, New Years, etc.
Last year, they opened up the system around 6am EST for domestic flights and 6:30am EST for international time. However, there was a massive glitch in the system and international flights did not work until much later in the day. Hopefully that does not happen again this year, but you never know.
If you are looking to fly around the Christmas and New Years time, then booking early is important. Remember, with Southwest, you can fully cancel your reservation for NO penalty. Here are the three scenarios on how you will get refunded for your reservation:
- Purchasing a ticket with a credit card: If cancelled, you will receive a credit back in the full amount you paid valid for one year from when the ticket was purchased (not from the date of travel). Unfortunately, these credits are not transferable and can only be used for the passenger whom the ticket was originally booked for.
- Purchasing a ticket with Southwest credit or a voucher: If cancelled, you will receive a credit back in the full amount you paid, but the expiration date will stick from the original voucher expiration date. This will not extend the date. Also, if any additional money was used towards the flight, that amount paid will also hold the same expiration date as the travel voucher used. Again, these credits/vouchers are not transferable.
- Purchasing a ticket using points: If cancelled, you will receive the full amount of points used back into your account. The points will go back into the account from which they were pulled from even if they were used on another passenger. There is no fee at all! This is the best scenario to speculatively book tickets!
You will also receive the full amount of taxes back to your credit card. If you cancel the reservation via the phone, however, many times they will not tell you this and instead give you a credit to be used for future travel for the taxes. Make sure to request that the taxes go back to the credit card.
Where will you be traveling?