With so many travel sites and aggregators on the internet, finding a good deal on a flight and buying airline tickets has never been easier. But even when you think you’ve found the best price, it’s possible that a lower fare will pop up after you’ve made your purchase. When that happens—what do you do?
Is it possible to get that new low rate? Can you get a refund for the difference between your purchase price and the new deal? Well—if you have flights booked with Southwest—the answer to those questions is yes.
The ’24-Hour Rule’
There is an official policy from the Department of Transportation concerning airfare price drops.
The policy states that if you happen to stumble upon a lower fare within 24 hours of booking a flight to or from the United States—and your flight is at least seven days away—you can take advantage of the 24-hour rule. This rule allows you to get a full refund for your original purchase price and buy a new ticket at the lower rate.
However, some airlines and third-party ticket sites go a bit further and will allow you to cancel your tickets for free. Even if your departure date is less than a week away.
If more than 24 hours have passed since booking your flight, just a handful of airlines will issue a refund due to a price drop. But, that refund will most likely be issued in the form of a travel credit.
Depending on the airline, you will also get charged a fee for making these changes. For domestic fares, the fee is usually between $50 and $150. For international fares, the fee ranges between $250 and $750. But, those fees ruin the whole process because they will most likely cancel the savings of booking the lower fare!
We should note that all of this applies to non-refundable fares only. If you purchased a refundable fare, those can be canceled and rebooked without penalty. So you can easily get that lower rate if the fare goes down.
The Southwest ‘Transfarency’ Policy
The refund policies due to a price drop vary greatly among airlines and third-party sites. But the one we’ve found that makes the process free and as easy as possible is Southwest Airlines. They have an extremely flexible cancellation policy that is part of what they call “Transfarency.”
The concept is to offer customers low fares with no hidden fees. But the one aspect of this policy that people don’t seem to know much about concerns price drops. Southwest will credit you the fare difference if the price drops. In other words, you’ll always get the cheapest fare possible when flying Southwest–as long as you pay attention.
No matter when you book your flight with Southwest, if the price drops before boarding you can claim the price difference and get a refund. But this doesn’t happen automatically. You have to keep your eyes open for those price changes. And if you see one, you must actively request a refund for the difference.
You Can Always Modify A Southwest Airlines Ticket
Southwest’s policy is that any flight booking can be changed or canceled without any fees. Unlike other airlines—like American, Delta, and United—whose policy doesn’t exclude the cheapest fares. And there’s no requirement that your flight originates in a specific country.
No matter what ticket level you’ve purchased and no matter your departure location or destination—you can always modify a Southwest ticket for free. And you can do it up to 10 minutes before your flight’s scheduled departure time.
It’s An Easy Process
If you discover a price drop, simply login to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and scroll down until you find “My Upcoming Trips.” Next, click the “change flight” link on the reservation you want to change.
On the next page, you’ll need to select the specific flight you want to modify. If you booked a round-trip ticket, you’ll have the option to change it all. Or, you can change just one way and leave the other alone.
The next step is to find a new ticket on that same flight, or a new flight. Southwest will show you all of the options available. But instead of showing you the price of the ticket, they will list the price or point difference.
When you’ve found the flight you want, click on it and then click “continue” at the bottom of the page. This is when you’ll get your confirmation from Southwest for the flight, and you’ll see the total price difference that will be credited to your account as “Travel Funds.”
The final page will feature a reconciled summary that will show how much cash or points will be refunded to you.
Now that you know how easy it is to get a refund from Southwest—and to make changes without any fees—we encourage you to take full advantage. Happy traveling!