Southwest has extended their reservation system to allow you to now book a flight through January 7, 2018! If you are are a planner and know that you’ll be taking a flight during this time, I suggest looking into flights now. The reason for this is that peak flight times (typically starting December 22nd for the holiday time and the week of Thanksgiving) will most likely be the cheapest you’ll see them today. There is a slim chance they will go down in price as the weeks get closer, although you never know.
I personally love the flexibility of Southwest because I am not 100% sure of my vacation plans and I can cancel any unused flights with NO PENALTY. Just remember, if you book on points and you change your flight later, you are making your fare non-refundable. While you’ll still get your points back if you need to cancel, the taxes/fees paid will go back to a travel voucher. Make sure to read about this workaround to ensure your flight stays fully refundable!
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!
Keep on checking to see if your flight drops in price…
If your flight drops in price, you can re-book for the lower price. This can be done up until 10 minutes prior to your flight takes off. So if you are looking to book a flight now for December and it drops in price in a few months, you can get the points/cash back! The way you get your cash/points back is the same as I documented above. Essentially, Southwest treats re-pricing a ticket similar to if you cancelled and re-booked. So the above scenarios would be the same.