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Thread: Paging Southwest Experts!

  1. #1
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Question Paging Southwest Experts!

    I’m learning about Southwest fare structures, but have a question.

    Are published “Wanna Get Away” (lowest) fares the lowest they’ll ever be? I.e., are they subject to future sales and promotions, and could they come down?

    I know if I buy now I can cancel (within terms) and receive a credit, but I’d rather not deal with keeping funds banked with the airline.
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  2. #2
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    Yes, sometimes they go lower. I have often found that the lowest fares are the morning they are released, but I have seen them reduce later.

  3. #3
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    From my airport, I'd say about 80-90% of the time they're the cheapest they'll ever be on the day the schedule opens. There's 10-20% of the time when a fare sale will bring them lower, but for MCO/TPA that almost never happens. If you're looking at direct flights from MDW, you probably have a better shot at seeing prices drop than my flights which usually involve a connection through BWI.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    I would say they often go lower (maybe 50% of my flights I re-book later at a lower rate), especially when there are sales and promotions and especially if traveling at a non-peak time. Even for spring break I got one leg of my trip booked at a lower price than opening day during a promotion. But my spring break departure flight just went up and up and up...I'm in the habit of looking every few days to see if I can adjust.

    I always book with points to avoid having to worry about re-ticketing and expiration dates. The points just go right back in my account and no expiration. The cash rebooking can be a pain because I discovered you can only apply a maximum of 4 fare adjustment credits per new ticket. And I have this $5 credit I can't seem to get to apply to a new ticket for my husband. I could call, but $5 doesn't seem worth the hassle so I keep putting it off. But if you are using the companion pass does that only work with a cash fare? We've never done the companion pass so I don't know how that works. Based on your post I think we will give that a try for next year.

    You may already know this. But I book each leg of the flight separately and book each person separately. That way if the price for one leg of the trip goes down I can adjust just that. If you book round trip you have to take the going rate for both portions. If your outgoing flight goes down but your return flight goes up you can't just re-book outgoing, you have to do both and take the new round trip fare. Booking each person separately helps if there is only one ticket available at the new rate. You can adjust one person and not the other. If booking together it will only show you the next fare tier where there are 2 available seats at the same price and you will never see that 1 seat still in the lower tier.

  5. #5
    Senior Member RMmom's Avatar
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    I have always been able to re-book every single flight and get a credit. We fly out of MDW and have flown to boston, SF and orlando. I book the day they are released and then I watch them by checking in every Tuesday and they always drop. sometimes a lot and sometimes by $10 a ticket. I always re-book them and store the credit or points for later trips.

    When I book flights, I book each family member separately so I can easily grab lower rates. Sometimes I can re-book all of us at same time, sometimes I have to re-book 4 now and get the 5th later.

    you never know maybe you will find a place to go with that money in the year. We did. One of our MCO trips went down so much, I was able to book our Boston trip with all of the credits. We only paid the service fees. It was roundtrip $100 and each of us had $100 worth of credits from our flights being less money to MCO.

    just check every Tuesday. good luck.
    Cathy
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  6. #6
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Some clarification: My departure airport will be BNA (Nashville) after we move, and destination will be, in this particular case, Las Vegas, though I will be flying to other places too, of course. The outbound is non-stop and pretty cheap, so I bought that one, but the Wanna Get Away return fare is more than it should be; even direct (a stop, no change of planes) flights are pretty pricey. I supposed I can purchase what I want and re-book and keep the credit if the fare goes down.

    Next question: Is there a good place to monitor Southwest fare drops? Or does everyone just keep checking back?
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  7. #7
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    Were you able to play with the dates some? Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday flights are usually cheapest. I just keep checking back on fares.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BSS's Avatar
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    I always book as soon as fares are released and check back and rebook as needed. Often, fares do go down, but the flip side of that is that the Wanna Get Away fares for my return on our October trip (yes, 6 months away!) have been sold out for a few weeks now, so while I didn't love the price I got at least it's much better than the Anytime rates that are now available.
    Jen

  9. #9
    Senior Member Anne's Avatar
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    I haven't found a way to monitor prices other than directly on the Southwest site. But it will save your search so it doesn't take long to check. Southwest doesn't get checked through any of the flight search engines or 3rd party sites and no way to get alerts for price drops.

  10. #10
    I booked (with points) October 2017 for a trip in March 2018 - 22,000 points for 2 round trip from DTW to MCO. Checked back a month later and it went down to 19,000 points. Checked just after Xmas and it went down to 11,500 points!!!!! Book it and keep checking as you can see it was well worth it :)

  11. #11
    I booked (with points) October 2017 for a trip in March 2018 - 22,000 points for 2 round trip from DTW to MCO. Checked back a month later and it went down to 19,000 points. Checked just after Xmas and it went down to 11,500 points!!!!! Book it and keep checking as you can see it was well worth it :) and it was wanna get away

  12. #12
    that's a shame
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    I get pretty obsessive after we book on SWA and check almost daily. It's saved me points and $$ over the years.

    A feature I like on their site is the monthly low fare calendar. I was able to get PHL-MCO for $29 each way a few months ago.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Micah008's Avatar
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    Sorry I am late in replying...

    We normally book on the first day the flights open, and then I check (almost) daily from there on. Using our last 12 flights for example (most MKE, but a few MSP and MDW too), 5 of them were cheapest on that first day and never came down. 7 of them came down at least once, and 5 of those dropped multiple times. (The most extreme flight started at 8719 points (roughly ~$150), and dropped in price 5 separate times to eventually end up at 3574 (~$60). I rebooked each time.) This can be different from airport to airport though, so hard to say how it will work out for you.

    The other thing I have found is that their best prices tend to be on Tuesday or Friday mornings. So, if you don't plan to look daily, I would at least check those two days. Tuesdays for sure because that is when they always start new sales. Oddly Friday also works because it is the first day after the sales typically end, and sometimes they seem to change the normal non-sale pricing... I didn't expect this, but multiple times I have found a better price immediately after a sale ends.

    One other thing to consider is using Points rather than cash to book with Southwest. The big benefit is that if the price goes down and you rebook the flight, they just deposit the extra points right back into your account... you don't even need to deal with a credit. (I am pretty sure you have Chase Ultimate Rewards, which transfer to Southwest 1:1. Otherwise for the future, sign up when a 50k or 60k bonus on the Southwest credit card.)

    Another option is to fly Southwest one way, and a different airline the other. We did this to San Diego a few years ago to use up to miles on a different airline, and didn't want to book a round trip.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member ChristineOH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Art Vandelay View Post
    I was able to get PHL-MCO for $29 each way a few months ago.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member RMmom's Avatar
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    I just got back 1,868 points x5 for our flight to MCO. keep checking on Tuesday, it has always paid off for me.

    this is the 2nd point drop for these flights.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member MsIncredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RMmom View Post
    I just got back 1,868 points x5 for our flight to MCO. keep checking on Tuesday, it has always paid off for me.

    this is the 2nd point drop for these flights.
    I'm curious how you do this. Do you cancel the flights first and then rebook?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsIncredible View Post
    I'm curious how you do this. Do you cancel the flights first and then rebook?
    Using the SW app, you can check for price changes by tapping on your existing flight and selecting “Change Flight.” It will take you to a search page that defaults to your flight’s day. Run the search and if your flight comes up with a price cheaper than what you previously paid in points or dollars, select it. It will take you though a couple of self explanatory screens to complete the transaction and will automatically refund you points or credit your account with dollars if changing a “wanna get away” fare. You will get a confirmation email showing the change and credit. If your search reveals no beneficial price change, just back out of the search using the arrow in the top left corner of the screen.

    Also, if you originally purchased “early bird checkin”, it automatically carries over to your new booking.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member RMmom's Avatar
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    I look up my travel dates/search flights. If my flight is less, I go to change flight. You put in your confirmation #/name and then re-book it at the new fare. $/points are credited back to me immediately.
    Cathy
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  19. #19
    Senior Member MsIncredible's Avatar
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    Thanks 3dadknight and Cathy! I'm going to start doing this for my SouthWest tickets at least every Tuesday!

  20. #20
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    When a (cash) fare drops, is there any difference between changing the existing ticket and cancelling and re-booking? Does it depend on if Early-Bird Check-in is associated with the ticket? Someone on a thread elsewhere said that changing the ticket turns that ticket into a non-refundable ticket.
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    But Sandy Plankton said...

  21. #21
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    When a (cash) fare drops, is there any difference between changing the existing ticket and cancelling and re-booking? Does it depend on if Early-Bird Check-in is associated with the ticket? Someone on a thread elsewhere said that changing the ticket turns that ticket into a non-refundable ticket.
    I think I answered my own question, and it has to do with the word “non-refundable.” I’m confusing this with the Wanna Get Away fares which are not refundable, but can be cancelled and are eligible to the Travel Credit. The refundable fares are the other two categories.

    Never mind.
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    Quiet, both of ya! You're gonna ruin Maw's birthday!

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    But Sandy Plankton said...

  22. #22
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    Definitely change rather than cancel and rebook, otherwise you’ll lose your EBCI.
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  23. #23
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DopeyRunr View Post
    Definitely change rather than cancel and rebook, otherwise you’ll lose your EBCI.
    Right. Thanks!
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  24. #24
    wishes he had a pink frolicing llama under his tagline George's Avatar
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    Do you Southwest Experts use points or pay cash for your tickets, ideally? Since point requirements are based on fares, it seems logical to use points first, i.e., there’s no reason to hoard them, since if you cancel or get a better “fare” you’ll get them all refunded instead of being beholden to a Travel Account ticking clock.

    It’s in my nature, however, to hoard points in case I need them some day; I have over 1.5MM Chase Ultimate Rewards points which, like the SW points, work like cash, i.e., tied to fares, and also have a 1.5x Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus. But they can also be used to transfer to other travel partners, so I’m hesitant to use those as cash.
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    Quiet, both of ya! You're gonna ruin Maw's birthday!

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    But Sandy Plankton said...

  25. #25
    the jeweled acrobats only perform amazing stunts for him DopeyRunr's Avatar
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    Always use Southwest points first, because they're 100% refundable, but also because SW has a history over the last several years of devaluing points redemptions.
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