Southwest works very differently than most other US carriers. Instead of having their flight schedule available 330 days out, they push out their booking window in batches every now and then. As of right now, you can only book Southwest flights through January 5, 2020, but starting tomorrow, they will extend their reservation schedule through March 6, 2020. NOTE: The schedule has now been extended!
I also suspect tomorrow is the date they will take their 737 MAX 8’s fully out of service. This is pure speculation, but I would be surprised to see them in the extended schedule. I also wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow (or at some point this week) all November and December flights currently scheduled on this aircraft are canceled/changed.
From past experience, booking the day the schedule is released could get you the best prices for peak travel dates, such as MLK Day weekend and Presidents Day weekend. For us in New England, most school systems get a full week off during Presidents Day weekend, so booking as soon as possible is definitely a good idea. And since Southwest has no change or cancelation fees, you can book now and cancel later if you need to. This also means if a Southwest flight drops in price, you can get the difference back simply by going through the process of “changing” your flight. If you pay for your flight, you’ll end up with a voucher if you cancel or if the price goes down, but if you use points, the points will simply go back into the account they were booked from. Essentially if you…
- Paid for the flight (non-refundable fare)… You will receive a voucher for the difference in fare price (or full fare price if you are canceling) to be used one year from the date the flight was originally purchased (NOT the date the change/cancelation took place). This voucher is non-transferable. The voucher will be tied to the confirmation number of the original flight. There is NO fee for this.
- Paid for the flight (refundable fare)… You will receive the difference in fare price back to the credit card you used to pay for the flight.
- Booked your flight using points… The difference in points will go back into your account immediately. Again, there is NO fee for this. This is why I love booking Southwest flights using points!
As of now, the schedule extension should be tomorrow, August 15, 2019, so if you are planning on booking a flight for the month of January or February (and then into March), I suggest being on your computer by 6:15am EST to book those peak flights. Southwest doesn’t have a set time on when the schedule is released and I’ve seen it as early as 6am EST and as late as 9am EST, so just being available and continuously refreshing your screen is your best chance of scoring a cheap fare. I’ll be sure to let you all know tomorrow when the schedule is officially extended.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card — Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on the card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card — Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on the card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card — Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($149 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card— Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($99 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card — Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on the card ($69 annual fee)
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