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.
- Related: Southwest Credit Card Offers
Canceling a Southwest Flight
You can cancel a Southwest flight Southwest ticket 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 ticket…
You will receive a travel fund back in the full amount paid for the flight. 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.
If you used points…
If you cancel a ticket that was originally purchased with points, you’ll 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.
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).
Changing a Southwest Flight
If you have already have a flight booked and you are looking to change it 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.
If you paid for the flight…
If you paid for the flight, you’ll receive a Travel Fund for the difference in price. 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…
If you booked using points, the difference in the number of points redeemed will go directly back into your account.
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”.
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.
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.
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.