Beware. Southwest is Canceling Duplicate Bookings!

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It is no secret that the Southwest “allows” a ton of flexibility for a passenger. In the past, you could have multiple flights booked on the same day if you were unsure about the time you wanted to fly or the destination you wanted to fly to. And when you make these speculative reservations with points, as long as you cancel 10 minutes prior to the flights departure time, the points go straight back to your account and the taxes/fees paid back to your credit card. While doing this has always explicitly been against the terms, Southwest’s IT system is so outdated that they never caught on and reservations were 99.99% kept.

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 8.52.50 AMThis is all about to change though. According to this FlyerTalk threadthere are many reports of reservations being canceled for reservations made May 8th or later. It seems like if you have two reservations that put you in the air at the same time or two reservations with the same two city pairs on the same day, 24 hours after the 2nd reservation is made, one of the two reservations will be auto canceled. Based on the thread, it seems like we are still unsure if it is the first or second reservation that will be canceled. Reports show it both ways. It seems as though Southwest’s new IT system that is being implemented is able to pick up these double bookings.

So for those looking to make future reservations, be cautious. For those that are currently holding two reservations for flights previously booked, you are probably in the clear, but keep these new IT enhancements in mind for the future!

I am personally a big Southwest flier. And I will be 100% honest with you. There are times when I have had two flights booked on the same day. Not often, but I have done it. This was always the beauty of using points on Southwest flights. I am perfectly okay with the system now cracking down on it though. At the end of the day, this will help all travelers. Extra flights will no longer be booked meaning other fliers should be able to book flights at a lower fare class for the same flight.

Feel free to report any data points you have in the comments section below!

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  1. Thanks for letting us know about this. This new policy is certainly reasonable. I have never booked two flight on one day but have booked the same flight for one day after another sometimes before plans are settled. I am not sure how this will work under the new policy.

      • They’re not. I had a flight booked Aug 11, and I booked another flight for Aug 12. 3 days after I boowed it, I got an email saying the Aug 11 flight was canceled. Really sucks because that is the flight I was leaning towards!!

        • Thanks, were the flights 24 hours or greater apart, or did you for example, book an evening flight on 8/11 and a morning flight on 8/12 and one was cancelled?

          Here was my recent experience:
          Thursday – SJC to BWI – early morning – cancelled
          Friday – DAL to BWI – early morning – not cancelled
          Thursday – DAL to PIT – last nonstop of the day – not cancelled
          Friday – DAL to PIT – last nonstop of the day – not cancelled

          So, as you can see primarily on the last two flights, it seems like if the booking are 24 hours or more apart, the system doesn’t cancel? I wish the logic could be published so we weren’t guessing at this deductively.

  2. Southwest had a problem that they solved the wrong way. The system can cancel a reservation that was properly ticketed? This opens up all sorts of issues. A better modification is changing the timeframe for changes on Wanna Get Away fare tickets from 10 minutes to 24 hours. At that point if the reservation is not being used it allows a full revenue ticket to be sold in its place,

    • @Nick – It is against their terms, so booking yourself on two flights that you physically cannot take at the same time is not allowed. They are able to cancel a reservation. Every other airline does it. Southwest was the only one that never caught on.

    • Nick, there is no 10 minute rule for anything besides boarding. Per Federal law, any airline booking is refundable within the first 24 hours of the original booking., including WGA fares.

  3. I’ve currently got two overlapping flights to New Orleans in April, but one leaves from LAX and the other Las Vegas. I might be attending a trade show in Vegas that week that so I booked both tickets speculatively as I wasn’t sure where I would be when it was time to leave. I did a similar thing last year when I had an early morning and evening option booked expecting that a work obligation would interfere and I would need a back up plan. I will have my plans set in a few weeks and cancel one accordingly but I like knowing that I’m covered either way. I can’t fault Southwest for the change but I will miss this option.

    • Can you update if one of your tickets were canceled? I’m in a similar situation, same dept. airport but arriving at two different airports and the flight times overlap.

  4. This is common amongst carriers so I’m not shocked to see it finally getting implemented. Hopefully it’ll open up some more cheap fares for others, rather than a few people hogging it all up.

    Southwest’s system does need an upgrade though, not sure if this is the best update feature. lol.

    If you are purchasing the fare, not using points, you may still get away with it?? idk. Have one resrvation without your FF # perhaps?

    • @Christpher – You are most likely correct. If you purchase a flight without attaching a RR #, I am not sure the system will recognize it.

  5. Thanks for the heads up.
    Just to clarify, only purchased flights need to be canceled. If you miss a flight booked with points, the points go back to your account. This happened to me recently when I went to cancel a flight and found I had booked a week early and already had missed the flight.
    Love WN.

    • @Susan – If you miss a flight, technically the points/money do not automatically go back to your account. You are required to cancel a flight 10 minutes prior to the flights departure time to get the points back/money.

  6. FAA complaint number is 202-366-2220. Cancelling duplicate flights is one thing … it happened twice to me and both times I received no notification of the cancelled flight, they kept my points AND my money. If I had not kept meticulous records to prove I didn’t receive a refund I’d be out thousands of points the money as well.

    Once can be a mistake, but twice in 3 weeks sounds like a scam. Better check your online account to make sure your flights are still listed and if you have a flight cancelled; check your points log and credit card statement. You may find they kept yours too.

    • Update: I just cancelled a flight purchased with points and noticed that the points didn’t go back into my account. I also never got an email confirming the cancellation. When I called SWA the rep at first couldn’t find it and needed my confirmation number; even then he wasn’t able to refund the points and had to resort to tech support to do so. I was on the phone for 45 minutes getting this done. A month later, I still don’t have the $5.60 x 2 tax back.

  7. I am in a situation which requires double booking. My wife is a consultant and right now she “sit on bench” and does not know when she will get a new contract job. We plan to attend the graduation party in Ohio so I book a flight from BWI to CMS and a return next day just for the weekend. However, we plan one week vacation down Charleston, SC, if she still does not have a job so I need to book another flight on the same date with the flight from CMS to BWI, but from DAY to CHS. One day I looked at one of our flight was cancel without notice or refund the points. I called them up to explain the situation, the customer service was very nice she tried to put the note in the system but finally she has to give up since everything done by computer.

    Can the computer detect the companion pass having double booking which one booking under his name and the other as companion pass?

    • @Hoang – I used to be a consultant so know all about being on the bench. The system knows that there are two bookings under your name as the rapid reward number matches. I suggest not adding your name onto your wife’s ticket as the companion pass until you are sure that is the flight you’ll be taking. Keep in mind though you risk the flight being sold out.

      • Thanks. That what I did not adding my name onto my wife’s ticket and keep monitor it if I see the cheapest ticket “wana get away” sold out, I will cancel the other ticket and add my name on her ticket.

  8. “two reservations with the same two city pairs on the same day” <– can you clarify what you mean by 'same two city pairs'?
    Does that mean the same departure/arrival on each reservation, or could you have two flights originating from the same place, but arriving in two different cities (e.g., when you're not sure which city you might need to travel to).
    In my case, I had two one-way tickets booked for May from the same departure city, but going to two different destinations as I wasn't sure which one I needed to go to. My first reservation was cancelled. Granted both flights were going to be in-flight at the same time so that's probably why I got tagged, but if they hadn't been in-flight at the same time (e.g., one in the morning, one in the afternoon), does anyone know if it would have still been tagged?
    I agree it's been a nice option to have, especially for business travelers but also understand why SW is wanting to stay on top of this trend.

    • @J – I am not sure exactly what flights are being flagged. My assumption is if you physically cannot take both flights at the same time it will get flagged, and then cancelled.

    • If you have 2 reservations in the same day, SW will cancel one of them without notice. It was happen to me since I am not sure which destination we would take. My wife is a consultant and right now she is “sit on bench” so we are not sure we will fly back home from Columbus to BWI or take a week vacation to Charleston, SC. So I did book both flight on the same Sunday, then later I checked, the flight from Dayton to Charleston was cancelled but no points came back. I called SW and explained our situation, she told me she would put the note and told me go ahead book the flight again. But then while I am on the phone, she told me nothing she can do since it is done by computer.

      • Hoang – thanks for the additional detail. I was surprised that you got flagged being you actually had two entirely different departure cities (Columbus and Dayton) and two different arrival cities (BWI and Charleston). Based on that, it does sound like my idea of booking one in the morning and one later the same day (thus not overlapping) would still get flagged as it’s still the same day. Thanks!

        • Hi J,

          Yes it is true since I talked with SW and she said they flagged when it is the same day. My flight from DAY-CHS is at noon and CMH-BWI is 8:00 AM. One time I found out by booking two flights was cheaper than one flight: SJC-LAS then LAS to BDL instead of SJC-BDL stop at LAS. Just wonder SW would flag in this case.

          Someone told me they may flag based on the RR# so if you do not put the RR# on one flight, will thay still flag?

  9. Wow, thank you. I had not decided which city I would be departing from, Ft. Lauderdale or Orlando. So I booked both. When I received notice of one cancellation I thought it was a glitch and rebooked it. But when it happened again, the following day, I thought someone was toying around with my account and changed my password. I now see what the problem is. Thank you, I’ve cancelled one of the flights.

  10. I just had a duplicate flight auto-cancelled early today. This was the first I had heard of the new policy as I had not booked a flight since March. The points price for the flight that was cancelled(which is the one I wanted) had gone up. By calling SW customer service I was able to get them to change my remaining flight to the flight I wanted with no upcharge in points.

  11. I just had a flight auto-cancelled and did not understand why until reading all of this. This is going to cause problems for us Southwest Travelers. I had booked a pending vacation plan and also a pending work trip that was on same-day. Until I know my work plans, I didn’t want to give up on my pending vacation plan. Southwest has now auto-cancelled my vacation flight, completely caught me by surprise as I got a 1am email. Now, as I got to work today, the points required to re-book my vacation flight have more than doubled and my work trip has fallen through… now I won’t go if I can’t use my points for it. I booked the flight during a sale too. I am now extremely upset and despise Southwest for doing this.

    I’ve used the double-booking many times to my advantage and has been one of the lures of Southwest. I’ve been on vacation before and didn’t know if I was going to catch my flight home or my flight to a job site in some other city for work. On the day-of, I wind up cancelling one or the other bookings. If they auto-cancel my flights, this could be very upsetting. There have been times when I’m not sure if I can catch the 4 o’clock flight or the 8 o’clock flight, so I book both in a pinch. When I can get on the 4 o’clock flight, I cancel the other one. When it looks like I cannot make the 4 o’clock because a meeting has gone long, I cancel it knowing I have an 8 o’clock reserved. This has saved me many a times! Sometimes storms blow in during the afternoon and they cancel those flights and bump those passengers to the next day because other options are full-up. However, the travelers who had bookings in the evening get to keep their travel plans and arrive that day.

    • I am not sure why you would “despise” a company for
      following its own rules. I too have had a reservation canceled and will just have to learn how to adapt.

      • @Cleo – I do not despise them at all. I personally love Southwest and fly them quite often! As I mentioned in my post: ” I am perfectly okay with the system now cracking down on it though. At the end of the day, this will help all travelers.”

  12. Does anyone know if this is only when you book with points? Or does it do the same thing when you book with money too?

  13. I had a duplicate flight cancelled today 1/30/18.
    I had a 06:00 early flight for 4,698 points (in 5 months from now)
    and a 09:35 for 7,146 points (this one was canceled)
    Not sure if I value the points or the sleep time at this moment, which is why I wanted to the two options for now. I rebooked and guessing one will be canceled a 2nd time. Will see what happens.

  14. So I booked a vacation package and then later realized I wanted a different package, so i booked the one I wanted and then called into customer service to cancel my first reservation. The rep. never told me this new rule and he went in and cancelled first package, then sent me a confirmation email. Then just 3 days before I am to leave I try to do early bird check-in and it tells me my new reservation was cancelled. So I called SW and rep said they called me making me aware that the duplicate was cancelled and that I called in 2hrs later and stated that I wasn’t going on my trip anymore and cancelled my new reservation. I clearly didn’t do that. I was very specific with the rep when I was cancelling my old reservation. And he seemed to be understanding. Also the rep never said that my old reservation was already cancelled or the duplicate reservation policy.I never got an email of new reservation being cancelled or any kind of refund. So now I may not get to go on vacation because of their poor communication. Now I have to wait until 8am tomorrow to speak with proper management of this situation
    I really hope they can figure their screw up out and fix it entirely! I am going to have a hard time sleeping now. I shall say as of right now SW has not made me a satisfied customer.

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