The Ultimate Guide to Changing and Canceling a Southwest Flight


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Compared to all the other US airlines, Southwest has the best change and cancelation policy out of them all. We are a big Southwest family, especially due to having the Southwest Companion Pass. That coupled with there flexibility really makes them a winner in my opinion. When using points, I can make flights far in advance and I do not need to worry about a change fee if we need to cancel. Schedules change quite often in my family and Southwest allows me to make flights worry-free. Hint: You can change and cancel a Southwest flight with no fee at all! While I typically book with points, this can be done with paid flights as well.

Southwest cancel flight policy allows you to cancel a flight for free.
My family can book Southwest flights without any concern that we will be hit with a hefty fee if our plans change!

Canceling a Southwest Flight

You can cancel a Southwest flight without any fees at all — this even includes their lowest “Wanna Getaway” fares. The process is quite easy and you can even do it online.

If you paid for your Southeast ticket and need to cancel, you’ll receive a travel fund back.

If you need to cancel a Southwest flight, you will receive a travel fund back in the full amount paid. The travel fund is valid for one year from when the ticket was originally purchased, NOT from when the flight was canceled. The travel fund is also not transferable and can only be used for the same passenger, regardless of who paid for the flight.

When you are ready to redeem the travel fund on a future flight, you’ll need to change the payment method on the last screen online. The voucher is tied to the original confirmation number. Make sure to keep that confirmation number on hand.

Note: If you purchased your original ticket with a Southwest credit or voucher, you’ll still receive a credit back in the full amount paid. Unfortunately though, the expiration date will stick with the original expiration date and not extend the date. Also, any new payments will inherit the earliest expiration date from any funds applied.

Using a Southwest Travel Fund
Select the Travel Funds link above and the Travel Funds tab to enter your confirmation number and passenger information.

If you used points and need to cancel your Southwest flight, the points will go back into your account.

If you cancel a Southwest ticket that was originally purchased with points, you’ll receive the full amount of points 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.

Even the taxes and fees paid will go back to the credit card used. Just make sure to select “Request a refund” from the Refund Method drop-down menu. (If you used a gift card to pay for the taxes and fees, that will be returned to you in the from of a travel fund).

Using a Southwest Travel Fund
Your Southwest points will go back right into your account, instantly.

Changing a Southwest Flight is Free

If you have already have a flight booked and you are looking to change your Southwest ticket to a different date (or even a city pair), Southwest allows you to change a ticket also with no fee. However, if the new flight is more expensive, you will have to pay the fare difference.

On the flip side, if your flight goes down in price, you’ll receive a voucher or your points back. You can re-price your flight as many times as possible, up until 10 minutes prior to the flights departure time. This means you can go ahead and make a flight far out in advance and if a Southwest fare sale comes along, you can check to see if your flight is now in fact less. Southwest even makes it really easy for you. No phone calls required and you can do it all online. I personally check out my upcoming Southwest flight reservations on a daily basis. It takes just a few minutes and can save you thousand of points.

The flexibility of being able to change our Southwest flights for no fee works well for my family.

If you paid for the Southwest flight and you need to change, you’ll receive a credit for the difference.

If you paid for the flight and the Southwest flight has gone down in price, you’ll receive a Travel Fund for the difference in price. Of course if the price has gone up in price, you’ll be on the hook to pay the difference. Similar to canceling a flight, you have one year to use the voucher from the date the flight was originally purchased.

If you used points for the Southwest flight and you need to change, you’ll receive the points back.

If you booked using points, the difference in the number of points redeemed will go directly back into your account. Or, if the flight is now a higher price in points, you’ll need to redeem more Southwest points for that particular ticket.

Steps to Getting Your Flight Re-Priced

In your Southwest account, you’ll be able to see all of your upcoming flights. Just click on “My Account” in the upper right-hand corner. Halfway through the page you’ll see “My Trips”. Click on “Upcoming” right below it and all of your future flights will appear. For the flight you want to change, click “Change Flight”.

Southwest change flight policy means there are no fees at any time.

You’ll then want to select the exact same flight that was originally purchased. Southwest will actually automatically include the city pairs and travel date.

Your flight options will appear and if there is a negative sign (-) next to your flight, that means the fare has gone down in price. If there is a positive sign (+) that means the fare has increased. If the fare has in fact gone down in price, select the lower fare and continue through the process of actually purchasing the fare. Note: Re-pricing a flight works much better on Southwest.com vs. the Southwest app.

Southwest flight goes down in price

On the next screen, you’ll see that you are getting a credit for the total difference in points. The process works exactly the same if you paid for your flight. Just make sure to finalize the entire process with actually changing your flight with the new fare. Your confirmation number will stay the same.

Note: This is the exact same process as changing your original flight to a different flight.

The Southwest flight cancelation and Southwest flight change policy is very generous.
For a family of four, continuously getting points back when the flight goes down in price is amazing!

Overall…

If flexibility is your No. 1 priority, then Southwest is the way to go. Being able to change and cancel a flight with absolutely no fee saves my family a ton of points on a regular basis. It also allows us to book flights even if we aren’t 100% sure if the dates will work. This is one of the best reasons for using Southwest points to book a flight.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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Old Flyer
Guest
Old Flyer

I don’t understand. I thought certain fares i.e. Business and Senior fares were fully refundable to your credit card and didn’t have to be used for another Southwest ticket. Please explain further. Thanks

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Old Flyer – That is correct. It is the “Wanna Getaway” fares that I’ve outlined. I’ll be comparing the differences between fares and their perks in a future post.

Andy
Guest
Andy

I have three $30 credits under my wife and kids. The kids are both minors, is there any way to transfer their credits to my wife’s name because of this?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Andy – unfortunately southwest doesn’t allow you to transfer credits

Marjorie D. Childress
Guest

I have a. reservation for a ticket from MCI to. PHX.
Feb. 21- 25, 2015.
I just got out of the hospital. Had pacemaker implant / lung colasp.. I am restricted for flying until the doctor permits.
What can l do with the ticket l have purchased?

Jack
Guest
Jack

Southwest has their “low fare finder”, covering their lowest fares for any given month, but I’ve not been able to find a comparable feature for AirTran; do you know if there is such? Or, lacking that, how can one go about finding the best AirTran fare over a month, other than checking a day at a time?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Jack – Unfortunately AirTrans interface is not as user friendly. You can used kayak which will pull in three days before and after.

Kay
Guest
Kay

I cancelled a ticket over the phone and tried to get the taxes credited back to my card, but they said they couldn’t do it. It was all tied to the confirmation code and they couldn’t separate the base fare from the taxes.

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Kay – Only when you book with points will you get the taxes credited back to the credit card that was used to book the reservation. With a paid reservation both the fare + taxes will be given back in the form of a credit.

Christine
Guest
Christine

I have cancelled many flights using points. After not getting my taxes back the first time I called Southwest. You have to physically right down each confirmation code, one for passenger and companion. The next time you book you use that code and enter under travel funds, then choose the travel funds option. Then that money is put towards your new taxes. I have done it a dozen times because I always booking advance with my points and as you know sometimes life happens and you can’t go.

Chister
Guest
Chister

Hi, did you pay for the tax with SW gift cards or a credit card?

trackback

[…] Southwest is having a four day sale for non-stop routes including Chicago, Baltimore, and Orlando (flight must be purchased by April 22 at 11:59pm local time of the originating flight). This is for travel May 3 through June 30, 2013. I looked up some non-flight stops to these three destinations and found some pretty cheap fares, so if you are looking to travel to these destinations it is worth checking it out. OR, if you already have flights booked involving these cities, check to see if your flight went down in price and you can get a credit! You… Read more »

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

If I buy a ticket for someone, and they can’t go and tell me this in advance, can I get the credit and use it for myself in the future or does it have to be the original person I bought the ticket for? Thanks!

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@andrea – if you purchase with credit card and then cancel the credit amount can only be used for the person that the ticket was originally purchased for. If purchased with points then they just go back into your account and can be used again by anyone.

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

Thanks Dealswelike. That’s interesting that one form of payment can affect who uses it next. Good to know for flaky friends hahaha. Too bad one can’t then just buy points.

Linda
Guest
Linda

I recently purchased two round trip Southwest tickets using my Southwest credit card and charged the tickets. I was just rewarded the 50,000 points and wonder if there is any way to change instead of cancel the charged ticket to points instead?? Thanks!

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Linda – you’d have to book a new reservation.

Brittany
Guest

I’m glad I’m not the only one who obsessively checks southwest prices after booking! I bought my first ticket with this new rewards system and I’m glad I can do the same with my points. Wahoo!

Tammy
Guest
Tammy

So if I need to cancel a round trip ticket, used No points will I get money back?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Tammy – You will get back the amount paid in a credit which expires one year from the date you purchased the ticket. The credit is not transferable.

steph
Guest
steph

What happens if you take longer than a year to use the credit that was given because you already cancelled once?

Krysta
Guest
Krysta

So my husband and I are military and we bought the round trip wanna get away tickets but our leave dates switched. So now we have to change the tickets. There shouldn’t be a problem if it’s just a day or so off. What I’m aasking is what will happen.. thanks!

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Krysta – Southwest does not charge any change fees. So if the price is exactly the same then the credit will get applied to the new date. If the price is less than the difference in price will go back as a credit good for one year from the date booked. If the price is more then you will need to pay the difference.

Galen
Guest
Galen

Southwest is slowly becomes like all the others; now you have to cancel your flight 10 min before scheduled takeoff or you don’t get your credit back. Also, some time back they disallowed use of one person’s funds by another person. Still they are better in other ways mentioned here.

RK
Guest
RK

Can I book two completely separate trips with just one cancelled trip’s worth of travel funds? My original trip’s fare was pretty expensive, so I would like to use it toward more than one future trip (within the required year). I know the tickets bought need to be directly for me, but I cant seem to find anywhere if its possible to split travel funds between two different future trips.

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@RK – Absolutely! Think of it as a gift card where any remaining amount can be used on the next purchase.

RK
Guest
RK

Great! Thanks!!

Katy Austin
Guest
Katy Austin

Hello, I could really use some advice. I purchased 2 round trip tickets from Grand Rapids MI to Aruba on AirTran 11/15/13. Yesterday I had to cancel the trip and they gave me a credit minus $300. Here’s my problem, when I went to book a trip that we could take I discovered that AirTran no longer flys from Grand Rapids Mi, now that area is serviced by SWA. I called air tran to ask what I should do and they told me I am out of luck and would need to fly out of Detroit (about 3 hours away).… Read more »

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@katy – you can still purchase southwest operated flights via airtrans website. Is the system not allowing you to apply your voucher when a southwest flight is included in the itinerary?

SH
Guest
SH

What if I pay with points (for base fare) and gift card (for tax)? I know points will be back to my account, but tax will be refunded to gift card balance or travel fund?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@SH – The taxes will be refunded to a travel fund (which has expiration dates)

Stan
Guest
Stan

What if I checked in within 24 hours of a flight, would I still be able to cancel my flight and get credit? thanks.

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Stan – Yes

jam64
Guest
jam64

I have a small number of SW rapid rewards points. I also have 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase Preferred card. I need tickets for my friend and myself to Florida.

For maximum benefit,
1)should I purchase tickets for my trip out of the Chase travel website or

2) transfer my UR points to my SW account and then purchase the flights using points?

What if the price drops….how would that affect either plan?

thanks ~

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@jam64 – You will get the best value by transferring your UR points to your SW account and then purchase the flight using your Southwest points. You actually cannot book Southwest flights from the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Regardless, you still get a better value by transferring your UR points to your SW account and then purchasing the flight with your SW points.

If the price drops the difference in points will be credited to your Southwest account (assuming you actively change your flight for the lower price ticket).

jam64
Guest
jam64

Thanks …. good info.

If I redeem some of my SW Rapid Rewards points for a car rental for my daughter using the More Rewards link on SW, will those points be re-deposited in my RR account if she cancels the car rental before the rental date?

Are there any cancellation fees for car rentals purchased with Rapid Rewards?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@jam64 – Off the top of my head I actually do not know. I’ve never used my points for a rental car. I’ll look into it and get back to you.

Meredith
Guest
Meredith

My neighbor who has been just given a terminal diagnosis of cancer has cancelled a reservation for a trip she had thought she’d be taking in March. Clearly, the credit does her no earthly good. How can she:
A. Get a refund or B. Transfer the credit to someone else?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Meredith – Southwest’s general policy is a voucher in the name of the traveling passenger valid one year from date of purchased. With that said, I suggest calling Southwest and asking to speak to customer service. My assumption is they will make special accommodations as long as you provide documentation (a doctors note). I had a similar situation with the companion pass and they were very accommodating as long as there was proof.

jam64
Guest
jam64

Apparently, if a car rental is made with Rapid Rewards points and subsequently cancelled, the points are lost.

Sherri
Guest

I have made round trip reservations. Can I cancel part of my round trip and still get full credit? Credit is good for one calendar year so if I made my reservation on Feb. 25 do I have to actually travel somewhere by that date or just make another reservation by that date?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@Sherri – You need to travel by that date (unfortunately)

PJ Robert
Guest

I’ve flown the outbound leg of a round trip ticket purchased with points and now find it necessary to cancel the return trip. Do I get full credit for the return trip ticket?

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@PJ – Yes you will get full credit back for the return trip/

Faz
Guest
Faz

Hi…I’ve read your comments about cancelling a flight and getting a credit for a subseequent flight within one year…is there any possibilites of getting the funds credited back to my credit card? I know for sure I cannot book a another flight within a year’s time.

Thanks

dealswelike
Guest
dealswelike

@faz – you can call customer service and ask to speak to a supervisor. Explain your situation and maybe they will allow it. I believe you’d need some sort of doctors note though (just from prior experience)

Fred
Guest
Fred

If I purchase a roundtrip ticket for my wife and I, but then need to change the travel dates of just one leg, and just for me, can I cancel just my one part of the package, leaving my return and her roundtrip intact? Or will I need to cancel both complete round trips? I’m trying to figure out if I need to purchase our tickets separately (and purchase mine as two one-ways), to have the flexibility to cancel and apply the funds to a new flight, without risking the entire ticket price going up if we have to repurchase… Read more »

Sheryl
Guest
Sheryl

Do I have any recourse if I forgot to use my voucher and it is expired?

Nick
Guest
Nick

I canceled a flight November 2013 so my points expire this November 2014. Can I book a flight that is for after November if I book it before November?

Lily
Guest
Lily

My dad cancelled his flight and got a travel fund and he wanted to give it to me but when i booked the ticket it says i have to put the person the travel fund is credited to name on the traveler? Is there a way i can change to my name?

Morgan
Guest
Morgan

Can you change a ticket reservation for just one person if there are two people on the reservation?

My husband and I are both booked for round trip flights from PHX to Kansas. I want to change my ticket so it goes from to SLC to Kansas. Is this possible without him having to change his ticket as well?

Sue
Guest
Sue

I’m returning from a cruise and don’t know if I can make the early flight. Can I book two flights on the same day and cancel if I can’t make the first?

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

How many times are you allowed to change a flight on southwest? I originally thought that you could only apply the credit for canceling a flight once.

Summer
Guest
Summer

So I booked tickets on the southwest app and it was being slow and a sign popped up saying error retry so I retried it and It went through so I checked my account and it charged me twice and I got 2 emails saying it went through twice so it did the transaction twice and I got 2 different transaction codes so I cancelled one of the trips not even a minute after I booked it and I called southwest and they said it would go back in my account. But will it ???

Debra
Guest
Debra

I booked roundtrip tickets for my husband and myself to Denver. He may not be able to go as he has an opportunity to travel to China for his job. Will I be able to either get my money back or will I be offered a travel voucher for a later time?

nicole
Guest
nicole

I purchased tix last year and couldn’t make the trip due to an injury. My tickets are expiring in feb but I won’t be able to travel by then. Can redeem any part of tickets and use it at a laterrible date?

Kim
Guest
Kim

I purchased/booked 4 round trip tickets on January 8, 2013 in which I had cancelled, leaving me with SW full refund credits— that were good if I used the SW credits, within one year. When the year was up in 2014, I was unable to use the SW credits due to my brother unexpectidely passing away in Feb 2014, and 2-months later in March 2014, my dad passed away on my brothers birthday. I called SW customer relations and they issued a full credit for all 4 tickets, with LUV vouchers, good for one year from original booking date of… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

I booked two round trip tickets to FL. Unfurtunately, I can’t make the trip. Can I cancel my ticket and still let the other passenger travel? The tickets were booked in my name… Thank you

Mike
Guest
Mike

I booked two round trip tickets to FL. Unfortunately, I can’t make the trip. Can I cancel my ticket and still let the other passenger travel? The tickets were booked in my name… Thank you

jesika
Guest
jesika

Kudos to whoever is running this site as that person answers back to the majority of the posts here even when people are asking the same thing over and over again. Thanks so much! I read most reviews and got my answer from simply reading.

Lash
Guest
Lash

I bought three tickets and now one of the passengers can’t go. Can we switch the name on the ticket to another person who can go? Or do we have to cancel the first ticket, get the voucher and then rebook the new ticket for the new person with new money (since I know we can’t transfer vouchers).

bobby
Guest
bobby

If I purchase a southwest ticket for a family member using my credit card. And then decide to cancel it within 24 hours, do I get the full refund back to my credit card?

thanks

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

If I cancel a Wanna Get Away flight and receive a credit to use within a year.. what happens to the money if I can’t use the credit within a year? Does SW issue a refund back to my credit card at that time?

Jaimee
Guest
Jaimee

My job books a lot of flights for our techs to work on different projects throughout the country. Sometimes a tech will get fired or quit before the flight and southwest gives us a general voucher. I had to cancel a flight last year because my father needed emergency heart surgery. My brother now needs to come up from FL for a family emergency and he has no money. I called to ask if I could use my credit for him and they said no. Why can we get general vouchers for techs but I can’t get one for my… Read more »

Jaimee
Guest
Jaimee

I had to cancel a flight last year because my father needed emergency heart surgery. Now my brother needs to come up from FL for a family emergency, when I called to see how I could use my credit for him they told me I couldn’t. Now my company books flights all the time for our techs to work on projects throughout the country. Sometimes a tech will be fired or quits before their flight and southwest gives us a general voucher so we can use at a later time for another employee. We don’t have a corporate acct, We… Read more »

Joyce
Guest
Joyce

This is about a One-Way ticket.. Can I change a paid with dollars flight, to being a paid with points flight, using the original confirmation number? I didn’t have enough points to cover it before, but now the price has dropped, and points are less. I would rather use my points for this, and keep the credit, and keep the Early Bird attached to the original confirmation number.

Greg
Guest
Greg

Thanks for the great summary.

Is there any condition that you’ve heard under which Southwest might refund to credit card on canceled lowest economy fares that must normally go to credit voucher fund? Sickness, loss of job, anything at all?

Rick
Guest
Rick

I imagine this was asked and answered but there are a ton of questions to read through (not a bad thing!). If i bought 2 tickets for my sister and brother in law on my credit card and we need to cancel the trip, do they give me the money as a true refund to my card or a credit to use within a year from the original purchase under their names only? Thank you!!!!

Gayle
Guest
Gayle

If I am understanding this correct, (1) If the price of the ticket goes down after booking Southwest will (upon my going into reservation and requesting it) credit the difference (taxes also?) towards a future reservation?. Correct? (2) And if I cancel altogether I will be refunded (back to credit card) the full amount paid, taxes and all – correct? Okay, so here is my bottom line question. If I don’t want the credit towards a future flight, why not just cancel the whole reservation and start over with the new fares?

ingrid
Guest
ingrid

Hi, I just booked a flight for someone else using my credit card. If I cancelled my flight and asked for refund will they refund the money to my credit card?

Troy
Guest
Troy

I have southwest credit in my account that expires October as I had to cancel a flight. What are my chances getting this credit extended by about 6 months?

Janet
Guest
Janet

Regarding Southwest nonrefundable flights, I understand that if flight is cancelled a credit for dollar amount is given to be used for travel within one year of purchase of tickets. Can you clarify what that means – does entire trip have to be completed by the one year date? Or can a trip commence by the one year date but end two weeks after it? Example, tickets are purchased on June 5, 2015, and trip is then cancelled. Can credit be used for a trip commencing on June 3, 2016 and ending on June 17, 2016?

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