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Old 01-14-2020, 01:17 PM   #1
krisephillips
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Default Southwest Airlines...Teach Me Please

I am growing frustrated with the discount air carriers we have used previously. Have been following Southwest and have noticed they are finally starting to open up more direct flights to/from Cleveland to MCO. I also like that I can purchase gift cards for Southwest and stack savings similar to our members dues.


Please teach me the tricks for Southwest for good rates/benefits/points usage.

Is is cheaper to buy the tickets at the airport directly?

Better to purchase when dates first released?

Any advise appreciated!
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:42 PM   #2
fuzzylogic
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Generally no... it's not better to purchase in the airport. I think some discount airlines like Spirit do that by charging internet fees, but SW is all about buying online. The earlier the better -- as soon as fares hit, because if they go down you can get points back. I'd say if you're interested in Southwest, the goal is to ~not purchase tickets at all~. The goal is to earn enough points via whatever means work for you to fund your travel entirely on points. It's a lifestyle. You can accumulate points by flights, but people go to great lengths to get them other ways. Credit cards are popular, as is shopping and hotels. The crown jewel of Southwest is their companion pass, where one guest of your choice flies free anywhere you do for the better part of two years. We are just about to secure our CP this 2020 in a couple days! This will be a new record for us... Which means for all of 2020 and 2021 my wife flies free anywhere I do.

I would start with opening the SW account if you haven't already, and look from there at credit card offers. If you'd like a referral, ping me I'm happy to refer you as you can get 75k bonus by applying now (We'd get a bonus too which is wasted if you don't refer anyone). It's one of the best consumer-side deals ever. Read up at thepointsguy, flyertalk, etc. There are massive communities out there that play the Southwest game. It helps if you're at a Southwest hub, like we are in IL. SW is not big in Cleveland, and it looks like most of their flights have a transfer in ATL to get to MCO? Give it some thought. Happy to answer any questions.

ETA... Looking a bit deeper... CLE-MCO is about 8000 pts each way, so for the signup bonus alone you could get almost 5 round-trip tix to Florida.

Last edited by fuzzylogic; 01-14-2020 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:31 PM   #3
richviii
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fuzzylogic View Post
Generally no... it's not better to purchase in the airport. I think some discount airlines like Spirit do that by charging internet fees, but SW is all about buying online. The earlier the better -- as soon as fares hit, because if they go down you can get points back. I'd say if you're interested in Southwest, the goal is to ~not purchase tickets at all~. The goal is to earn enough points via whatever means work for you to fund your travel entirely on points. It's a lifestyle. You can accumulate points by flights, but people go to great lengths to get them other ways. Credit cards are popular, as is shopping and hotels. The crown jewel of Southwest is their companion pass, where one guest of your choice flies free anywhere you do for the better part of two years. We are just about to secure our CP this 2020 in a couple days! This will be a new record for us... Which means for all of 2020 and 2021 my wife flies free anywhere I do.

I would start with opening the SW account if you haven't already, and look from there at credit card offers. If you'd like a referral, ping me I'm happy to refer you as you can get 75k bonus by applying now (We'd get a bonus too which is wasted if you don't refer anyone). It's one of the best consumer-side deals ever. Read up at thepointsguy, flyertalk, etc. There are massive communities out there that play the Southwest game. It helps if you're at a Southwest hub, like we are in IL. SW is not big in Cleveland, and it looks like most of their flights have a transfer in ATL to get to MCO? Give it some thought. Happy to answer any questions.

ETA... Looking a bit deeper... CLE-MCO is about 8000 pts each way, so for the signup bonus alone you could get almost 5 round-trip tix to Florida.
This is spot on and it is a way of life. They are so much more flexible. I have been a-list for a few years and had the compenion pass for a few as well. Some people hate their boarding process since you don't get an assigned seat but if you board early enough, you can pick what you want. Flight crew and staff are great. Points now don't expire which is even better.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:11 PM   #4
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Yes, fuzzylogic is right. But to make it brief, make your travel plans well in advance and buy your SWA tickets as early as you reasonably can.

They operate on a "yield management" pricing model, which raises prices when demand is strong and occasionally lowers them when demand is weak. On flights that typically fill, prices tend to be lowest when the flight is first offered.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:52 PM   #5
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In addition to the point-based tickets getting fully refunded if cancelled or rebooked, note that you can also cancel or rebook cash-based SW tickets for a credit to be used within 12 months of the original booking date (note that it is based on booking date, not travel date). Thus, if you book early, and the flight drops by $50, you can rebook the same flight and bank that credit towards another flight to be taken within 12 months of the original booking. Similarly, if plans change, you can adjust your plans easily while only paying the cost of the difference in flights.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:53 PM   #6
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Buy as soon as they are released. You can get a credit back for the difference if the price goes down but it rarely does if you book super fast. You have to use that credit within a year if the flight was via cash/credit rather than points. So if you are not flying a couple times a year the price going down might not help you.

And if you purchase early bird check in, changing your flight puts you in the back of the line for those who have purchased it and your boarding position will go down. That's another factor in not wanting to change those fares late in the game if it isn't saving a decent chunk of change.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:57 PM   #7
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The easiest way I have found to "earn" points is by Southwest's Rapid Rewards Online Shopping. Once you have an account, you can earn points by doing the online shopping you already do, just starting at their website or if applicable, using the Rapids Reward button. I do shop online regularly and I can earn points at most any store that I shop at...
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krisephillips View Post
Any advise appreciated!

  • Get a SWA credit card to get the bonus points.
  • Get a second SWA gift card if you have a business or other that you can add the card.
  • Earn 125,000 points in a year to qualify for companion status
  • book when price are released. If prices drop, you can get a credit back of the difference.
We have held SWA Companion Status for at least 10 years now. We save so much money by having that status. Robin has the status this year and I will earn the status next year, unless I can grab the current 75,000 point bonus.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickeyfan0805 View Post
Thus, if you book early, and the flight drops by $50, you can rebook the same flight and bank that credit towards another flight to be taken within 12 months of the original booking.
I've rebooked with SWA when the price has dropped as little as $10.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:13 PM   #10
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Cannot say this enough - I LOVE SW. Does help that we have HOU closeby, as well as Austin and Dallas. Lots of SW options here in TX.

I booked flights for our group of 9 for recent WDW trip about 3 mos in advance. Kept my eye on fares and over the next 2 mos ended up basically cutting what was already a decent price (~$290 round trip from Houston or Austin TX to MCO) to half that price per person. (Our return flights from MCO direct to HOU were $66! I can't drive there for that!)

I've done same for other flights - got my daughter a great deal on a THanksgiving flight about 4-5 weeks out to see her bf (and that's a pricey time of year). Ticket roundtrip was about $350, way better tahn anything else I could find on the other airlines. But the deal got even sweeter a few weeks later - ended up getting about half the price as a refund for a future flight. Total roundtrip Austin to San Jose was less than $200, on non-stop flights! Woohoo!

The SW CC is through CHase, who also does Disney Visa. That's cool because you can see both cards together online.
We have had a lot of attempts against our Disney card (it's our primary CC) and I can't say enough about Chase's diligence in protecting an account!
The perks that came with the SW card (points) also gave us an extra boost that helped pay for a few of those Disney flights as well.

What I REALLY love about SW, besides their pricing:
(a) my bags are free (which makes boarding the plane SO MUCH BETTER because people aren't trying to drag ALL their belongings and the body of Jimmy Hoffa onbard and stuff it into a tiny overhead space just to avoid the baggage fee, taking up alllllll our time as they push and shove and wonder aloud why it Just. Won't. Fit.
(b) changing my ticket doesn't come with an automatic "change fee" which is - for most airlines - RIDICULOUSLY HIGH. All I pay is difference in price (which can also mean a refund of credits towards a future flight!) This is an awesome feature, whether for personal or business travel.
(c) I have as much of a chance as anybody else at getting a decent seat even if I buy my ticket 24.1 hours before take-off. lol, because of their seating policy. Also awesome, especially for last-minute travel needs where - on any other airline - my only choice would be an overpriced seat as a back-row sandwich, if in fact I got an assigned seat at all!

What you'll need to know:
(a) Everybody else has just as much of a chance of getting a seat, too...so be prepared to CHECK IN, lol, or suffer the wrath of "Boarding Group C", lol.
(Or... pay the small fee associated with auto-checkin to avoid that, or fly enough to earn priority status!)
(b) Save those confirmation numbers on which you've earned credits, and note the expiration dates. Don't let good credits go to waste!

And basically, follow all that advice as given by the others above. And always, after booking a fare... keep checking it! Discounts happen. Especially Tues-Fri as new sales emerge / adjustments are made based on sales.
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