How Has Southwest’s New Policy Changed Your Reservation Habits?

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Back in May, Southwest implemented a new software system. While the system allows for many more opportunities for Southwest, it had a huge impact for customers on the reservation side. Compared to all of the other domestic airlines, Southwest gives its customers a ton of flexibility. You can cancel or change a flight with absolutely no fee – it doesn’t matter if your flight is booked on points or a paid fare. This allows for customers to make speculative bookings and a huge reason I am in love with Southwest.

In the past, you could even have had multiple flights on the same exact day! This allowed you to book backup flights incase you were not 100% sure of your travel plans. All you had to do was cancel the flight you didn’t want 10 minute prior to take off. While doing this has always explicitly been against the terms, Southwest’s IT system is so outdated that they never caught on and reservations were 99.99% kept. Well, all this changed when the new system went into place. You now CANNOT have multiple reservations on the same day. Southwest will cancel any reservation when you physically cannot make both flights. This includes flights between the same and different destination. Of course any flights where flying on both airplanes is possible will stay in tact, i.e., same day roundtrip flights.

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 8.52.50 AMIt seems as though one of the two flights will be canceled 24 hours after the 2nd reservation is made. Although, it is still unclear one how they determine which reservation to cancel. Unfortunately, many folks are not aware of the “new rule” and find out later on that their desired flight was canceled and is now more expensive. From reports I’ve read, if you call Southwest Customer Relations, they are able to re-book the flight at the same cost you originally paid (and then cancel the other flight). This is extremely amazing customer service since it really was against the terms anyways to book multiple flights.

This new rule has definitely impacted how I make my flights. There are times when I know I am going on vacation, but I am not 100% sure where I want to go. So I’ve made flights to different destinations for the same day. Or, if I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fly out in the AM or PM, I’ve made multiple reservations also. I have always canceled well in advance though to ensure that it did not leave an empty seat on a Southwest flight. Although, I absolutely respect this decision by Southwest. They are beyond flexible in every other aspect, that I totally understand them clamping down and not allowing this.

How has this change impacted your Southwest reservations? This new rule has definitely forced me to be more decisive!

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  1. ” You can now not have multiple reservations on the same day. ”

    This statement itself is misleading. Your statement implies you aren’t allowed to fly roundtrip on the same day, which is false. The new auto-cancel only applies when you have multiple reservations that directly overlap and can’t possibly be flown together.

    • henry – That is correct. In the post I wrote: “Southwest will cancel any reservation when you physically cannot make both flights.” So a same day roundtrip flight would be fine.

  2. I have booked two flights from the same origin to same destination at different times, to effectively rebook myself in case a flight is cancelled. I only did this twice though, so hasn’t change my process much yet.

  3. I don’t no why Southwest has one none stop from Tampa to Prov. And it is late at night not good for people traveling with kids so now I fly with Delta with none stop from Tampa To Boston with much better times! I think a lot of people are not happy about this win Southwest

    • @Jerry – I flew Tampa to Providence a few months ago with my two little kids and took like a 1pm-ish flight. I actually was just checking for a similar flight for next February and saw a mid-day flight as well. Maybe it doesn’t go everyday, or maybe it is seasonal?

  4. ” I have always canceled well in advance though to ensure that it did not leave an empty seat on a Southwest flight. ”

    What does “well in advance mean?” Are you certain your double booking doesn’t result in an empty seat or, at least, less revenue for that seat as the airline might need to lower the price to sell it closer to the travel date?

    • @Jon – No, I am not certain. I absolutely do not disagree with Southwest on this new policy, totally understand where they are coming from.

  5. I fly to Omaha every summer to visit but when I made reservations this time things had changed up. I go from midland change in Dallas then to Omaha. I was going to return during the week but it put me in midland at midnight so to have a reasonable arrival time I had to go in on Saturday. I only fly southwest. Don’t mind the changes jus a little surprised

  6. Actually if you book 2 trips in the same day and you have ton of time between these trips they will cancel one of them. For example, PHL to LAS trip then LAS to LGB or SNA. The reason someone may do that since he/she may travel with someone to LAS with companion pass then he/she flies by himself to LGB/SNA/LAX.

    By the way, in some situation we need to book multi trip in the same days. Recently, my friend and I plan going to DTW from BWI (non-stop) and using my companion pass but I am not certain sure I would make it due to personal issue.With the new policy, my friend just booked his own flight from PHL to DTW (with stop but both of us live near PHL), and I booked for myself from BWI to DTW and will add him as companion later (we will drive together to BWI for non-stop flight) and I had to monitor everyday to make sure my flight is not sold out. Last Monday, when I am sure I can go and the Wanna Get Away was sold out so both of us on the phone and he canceled his flight first and then I added him as my companion. The booking return trip DTW to BWI was OK but the BWI to DTW was canceled right after booking since somehow the computer processed both reservation same time so it kicked out my reservation for him as companion pass. One thing is very odd: on his reservation has his RR# but on the cancel reservation it display “Join” instead of his RR#.

    Sorry for the long story but I want to make sure all of you understand that double check your reservation or make sure the cancel trip goes through first. Someone told me I can make the reservation first then cancel it did not work in this case even he canceled few seconds before I started booking process.

  7. This rule is great and long overdue. Makes sense to everybody except those who game and abuse the system. I’ve never needed 2 Rez the same day. Particularly on WN where there is no change fee.
    I and many others will buy more WN flights now that elimination of double booking has freed up more seats.

    • Boraxo said: “I have never needed 2 Rez the same day”.

      Here are some real examples, it may happen to you in the future.

      1. We flew from BWI to CMH for a graduation party in Dayton. Then we planned going to Charleston, SC for vacation. However, my wife is a consultant and she waited for a job may be coming up during this time frame. So we had to book DAY to CHS if she did not get the job and CMH to BWI if she got the job in the same day.

      2. Someone has companion pass and his girlfriend lives in different city so he booked a trip from his hometown to her place then he booked another trip from her place to a vacation destination together and she would be her companion for free.

      3. I booked a trip with my friend as my companion ahead of time fly from BWI to DTW. However, some thing may happen to my relative I may need go to California so I may need to book a flight back to BWI same day then fly from BWI to DTW with him.

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