Today I write about my love affair with Southwest Airlines. There are many out there who complain about Southwest. For instance, my father-in-law claims he feels like cattle being herded because of their numbered ticketing system. Others complain about the lack of food. Still I love them and use them to fly every time I can. Both as a dad and a frugal person, Southwest consistently provides me cheap, reliable travel.
(This is not an affiliate post. I get no financial benefit for discussing Southwest Airlines. I really just like their service.)
Why I love Southwest
Southwest Airlines has “Transfarency”. What is this made up word. Basically it is their label for no hidden fees. With Southwest you get:
Fully refundable fares
Yup, fully refundable. If you decide to change or cancel a flight you loose no money. The refunded fare does not come back as cash, but can be used for credit in the future. Just make sure to save the confirmation number of the cancelled flight. That is how to claim the money on a later booking. You can cancel the flight even the day of.
I have changed my flight approximately 50% of the time I fly. I know this is likely to happen and so Southwest makes it easy for me. Right now I am in Nashville. I was set to fly back to the Bay Area later this week. All of a sudden my college friends decided to meet in New Orleans for a weekend. I quickly changed my ticket and am now flying to New Orleans on Wednesday. Bam! I actually made $13 on the transaction.
On the other hand…my mom is flying to the Bay Area next month. She is flying United. She now wants to go to Los Angeles prior to coming to see us. Is she going to do it? Nope. It will cost $200 for a change fee and what ever the ticket price difference is. She should have flown with Southwest.
Also, if you are planning a trip, buy the ticket early. It will not be cheaper later. Buy a “Wanna get away” fare. Then, if later the dates change or the trip gets cancelled then no sweat. You can always use the initial fare funds for another fare.
Two checked bags…for free
Before my kid I never checked bags. My wife and I flew lean and mean…well at least lean. We are friendly people. Now that we have a toddler we always check bags. Well typically one bag and maybe a car seat. With Southwest we do not have to pay for it.
Less important to me but still a nice feature. If you have an iPhone, computer, or other device you can watch live tv for free. Pretty sweet.
The companion pass is amazing. With this pass, you choose someone (in my case my wife) to fly for free with you for one calendar year. Anywhere I fly, my wife flies for free. This has saved us $1000 already this year. Yes, we fly a lot. You can change who your companion is at least once through the year if needed.
How to get the companion
You have to earn 110,000 reward points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. I do not fly 100 flights but I can earn the reward points. I make all my purchases on the Southwest Chase credit card. while also paying bills with this card. This spending adds up. Yes I spend. This along with the points for my flights adds up and I have had a companion pass 2 years in a row.
Family boarding happens between group A and B. As a family you always have 3 to 4 seats together. No need to sweat checking in early or paying for the A list upgrade.
Beyond the above, I just like the people at Southwest. They are always helpful, typically smile, send me free drink tickets, and are typically on time. It is great.
There you go. I love Southwest Airlines and my flight this past week reiterated this love. I was on a flight with 1 open seat. We had a lap child (last time I am flying with my kid as a lap child). I was fretting the 4.5 hour flight with him in our lap. So I told the flight attendant what was up. He smiled and said, “Lets just see what happens.” Luckily there was one seat available and the 4.5 hour flight to Nashville went smoothly with our son in his own seat.
What are your experiences with Southwest Airlines? Any hacks or thoughts?
Also published on Medium.