Back in 2017, Southwest Airlines implemented a new reservation platform which altered the way flight changes were handled. With the new system, if you changed a refundable fare reservation, the new reservation would automatically become non-refundable. This meant that if you eventually needed to cancel the reservation, any amount paid would be refunded to you in a travel voucher instead of going back to your credit card. As a workaround, you could just cancel and re-book your ticket, but that was a pain in the you know what.
It seems, however, that they are reverting back to their old ways and have put more liberal policies in place. Going forward, for any reservation booked on or after October 10, 2018, your refundable reservation will stay refundable even if you need to make a flight change! This is huge news and really makes changing and cancelling Southwest flights that much easier! Especially since reservations made using points are fully refundable fares!
Fully refundable flights include…
- Flights booked with points
- Business Select paid fares
- Anytime paid fares
With those types of fares, if you book with a credit card and need to cancel, even if you have changed the flight at some point, everything will be fully refunded to the credit card (or points) on file. Even the taxes paid will be refunded if it is a points reservation.
*Wanna Get Away paid fares will still remain non-refundable. If you need to cancel a reservation you will receive a travel voucher for the difference in the fare price which expires 12 months from when the flight was originally booked.
If You Booked Prior to October 10, 2018
If you booked a flight prior to October 10, 2018, your flight will still become non-refundable if you need to change your flight. As a workaround, just cancel and re-book — do not change! This will keep your reservation always as a fully refundable fare incase you need to cancel for whatever reason. This will take a few extra minutes of your time, but it is absolutely worth it in my opinion.
The Huge Benefit!
The real annoyance of having to cancel and rebook was how it impacted those who purchased EarlyBird check-in. If you cancel a flight where you already paid the EarlyBird check-in fee, you’d lose the amount paid. However, if you simply change a flight (instead of canceling and re-booking), the EarlyBird check-in stays in tact and follows the reservation since the reservation number doesn’t change. Now, with the new policies in place, you do not need to hold off on purchasing EarlyBird check-in with the concern that you might need to cancel and rebook in case the fare goes down in price.
I am extremely glad that Southwest is getting rid of this policy and allowing refundable fares to stay refundable. Even more so, I am thrilled and so appreciative that Southwest still allows these fully refundable fares and does not charge any change fees. Even for the Wanna Get Away fares (which are the only non-refundable fares), you can still cancel and not pay any change fees. This is why I love booking with Southwest. Thank you Southwest!