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Southwest is my favorite airline for flying with a family on a budget. I find more promo codes and discount deals than any other airline I travel. Using the Southwest Reward credit card, it gets me closer to free in-flight wifi (See Tip #23). They have those fun and quirky singing flight attendants and loving commercials. You know the commercials that have the ding sound. They do things a bit different than their competitors. Southwest is different, but in a good way, actually a great way. I’m going to show you how I maximize all the Southwest promotions and deals. You’ll see how to get discounts on Southwest Airlines using some creative and stackable savings.
I’ve qualified for the free Southwest Companion Pass promo for over 5 years in a row. My wife has flown for free with me for over 5 years. Take my advice on how you can become an A-Lister or get free buddy pass flights with friends and family.
Southwest Airlines Rules are Different Than Much of the Industry
They allow 2 free checked bags per person. Two bags fly for free!The baggage restriction has a 50-pound weight limit and a maximum baggage size of 62 inches per piece of luggage. Items surpassing this baggage restriction are subject to an overweight or oversize charge of $75 per bag. How does two free checked bags on Southwest compare to the competition?
There is no Southwest baggage limits, per se. Excess baggage within 62 inches (L+W+H) and 50 lbs or less cost $75 per item each way. Oversized or overweight will be charged extra fee.
I recently purchased luggage from Away Travel that meets the allowed dimensions. What sold me was the Away carry-on review after review I read. Click here to get $20 off your purchase of Away travel luggage.
Why is Southwest the Best Airline?
I live near Midway airport in Chicago and have many friends and family who go out of their way to fly Southwest. The primary reasons to fly Southwest:
- Budget prices – if I book a flight early enough, I can get one of their “Wanna Get Away” fares
- Friendly employees – every time I either call Southwest Airlines reservations or fly the airline, everyone is so terrific. I’d also be happier if my job let me wear shorts as uniforms. Southwest Airlines history is known as having some of the best employees and customer service in the airline industry. Nearly all the Southwest reviews gloat about how the airline’s values its customers. Their flight attendants are only required a high school diploma. They believe a great attitude can’t be taught but skills can be learned.
- Two free check-on bags per person is huge! No baggage fee. How many bags fly for free on Southwest? For a family of four with two bags each, the average savings would be around $240! Anyone who travels with young kids knows the kids have more stuff and gear than the adults.
- No carry on fees. Southwest airlines carry on baggage policy allows 1-free carry on bag and 1-free personal item. Personal items include laptop bag, purse, briefcase, orsimilar. Carry on weight limit is not mentioned. You should be able to lift it into the overhead bulk storage compartment. Carry on dimensions should not exceed 24 x 16 x 10 inches.
- No change fee to change a flight reservation. However, tickets are subject to any fare difference. Though, there have been many times I’ve actually gotten money back for changing my flight. Calling customer service to book a flight is free. There are no fees for talking with a representative.They also have a special number for Spanish speaking guests. Southwest airlines en Española call: 1-800-VAMONOS – toll-free number
I’ve made a list tricks and tips for Southwest airlines travel to help save you even more and provide a better experience. This guide will help you maximize the Southwest benefits.
36 ways to start saving money while flying Southwest Airlines
If you’re in a hurry, he’s a short video summary of some Southwest Airline tips
1. Join Southwest Rapid Reward Program
Rapid Rewards accounts are free. It allows you to earn and redeem points for over 90 domestic and international destination flights. In addition to your ticket, you can buy:
- Vacation Packages
- Book travel points for other passengers
What’s the best feature of Southwest Rapid Rewards? There are NO BLACKOUT DATES! Yes, you heard me correctly!
Rapid Reward Program Tip: When enrolling, I used my personal email so I get flight status notifications on my mobile phone vs my work address.
2. Get the Southwest Credit Card Issued by Chase Point Offer
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card is the only card I use. I concentrate all my buying power on this one credit card to reap the best rewards. What are the perks with the Southwest credit card issued by Chase?
- Receive points offer after you spend on credit card purchases. No promo code necessary.
- Earn 2 Points per $1 when you buy a flight directly from the Southwest Airlines either online or via telephone
- Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
- 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points toward A-List and A-List Preferred status for every $10,000 spent on the card, up to $100,000
- Redeem your points for cruises, hotel accommodations, car rentals, gift cards, and Southwest International flights
- No foreign transaction Fees. The upgraded Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card has no international fees.
- Annual cardholders receive free drink coupons for Southwest Airlines
- Unlimited SWA Rapid Reward points that don’t expire as long as your card is open
- Annual fee is $99 but you also get 6,000 free Anniversary Points every year to help offset the cost
- Baggage delay insurance covers up to $100 per day for 3 days. Check the terms and conditions for details of coverage.
- Lost luggage reimbursement is eligible for up to $3,000 of coverage for each passenger. You must purchase your ticket using the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card in order to qualify.
- Purchase protection benefit from theft or damage for up to 120 days for no more than $500 per claim. Each account can claim up to $50,000. Your purchase be at least partially with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.
Southwest Rapid Reward Points.
Depending on the day of the week, lead time in booking your flight, and select destination, your points offer could be 2-4 flights! Chase doesn’t offer a Southwest credit card no annual fee option, but the free anniversary points help offset the cost.
Credit Score Needed for Southwest Credit Card application? The best article I’ve seen about credit card score and application status is at MoneyUnder30. If you want to daydream about your next vacation, here’s the Southwest interactive route flight map.
Southwest Credit Card Tip: Open the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
3. Buy Southwest Airlines Gift Card Deals
I go to Raise.com for discounted gift card deals. This is how I get discounts on Southwest Airlines. As of this writing, I see cards up to 2.5% off face value. Raise.com also offers a 1-Year Money-Back Guarantee on the Southwest Airlines gift card balance and free shipping for physical cards. I see discounts ranging from 2-4%. The gift certificate discounts are based on supply and demand.
A few percentage points may not sound like a lot, but it could cover your airport snack or in-flight texting.
Since I already have an established Raise.com account, they usually process and email the Egift card coupon codes immediately. From my experience, for new accounts, it could take a few days for the funds to clear to verify ownership of the credit card.
It’s a good idea to signup for their email list. Randomly, they will send out a promo code or gift card deals during holiday weekends.
Click here to buy Southwest Gift Cards at a Discount from Raise.com.
Gift Card Deals Tip: Use your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card to buy the Egift cards at a discount and earn points doing it! Establish a Raise.com account ahead of your purchase date.
4. Book Your Award Flights Early …and Often
There are never any cancellation or change fees at Southwest. That’s one of the best perks of the airline.
When you book a flight using your Rapid Rewards points, you’ll get all your points back in your account if you cancel. If you book a ticket in dollars, the funds are returned in your name in the form of an electronic voucher; there are no cancellation fees. You have one year to use your Southwest travel funds before they expire.
Reward Points Tip: If you have a potential trip, book it early to save points and dollars. You can always cancel it later given their friendly cancellation policy.
5. Rebooking Airline Tickets to Save Points
I hate when I buy something online one day then find out it’s on sale and offered at a lower price the next. I always miss judge the promos. Ugh!
The Southwest airlines refund policy is amazing. Since Southwest has zero change fees, it allows you to book and rebook at a lower price without a penalty. Instead of waiting for the next Southwest Airlines 72 hour sale, book your flight today …now!
Over the last year, my favorite tip and trick for “saving” Rapid Reward Points is to watch their website and rebook tickets when they go on sale. I have saved well over 30,000 points in the last year with this technique for my family.
Once I book the flight, I randomly check the site to view the current price. I would say about half of my flights have actually gone DOWN from the day I booked them. I simply call Southwest customer service, provide my confirmation number, tell them what I paid vs the current price, and they credit my points instantly. It’s amazing! If it’s a revenue flight paid in dollars, they will give you an electronic voucher in the form of travel funds for the difference to use within the next year.
Instead of calling customer service, you can apply your travel voucher while booking online. For new bookings, select “Apply Travel Funds” during checkout. You will see the total price, including TSA fees, reduced by the voucher credit amount once you enter the required information.
I keep track of my voucher credits on my iOS contacts app. When I get a Southwest voucher credit, I enter the date, confirmation number, and passenger name under my “Southwest Airlines” contact. I also recommend inputting the date in your calendar six months from the date and a year from the issue date. Since I only have a year to use the credit, I want to be reminded before the cash voucher expires.
If you’re not technologically savvy, you can print off your Southwest airlines receipt with your confirmation number. I would suggest putting your respective receipts in a SWA folder on your desk. You will have it as a handy reference when you cash-in your voucher.
Southwest last minute deals are unpredictable. Last year I managed to book a flight back from Florida on a connecting flight for less than $100 around New Year’s. It’s always never a bad idea to search through the Southwest low fare calendar.
Change Flight Fee Tip: Sign up for Southwest email promotions and codes so you know when the sales start.
6. Check Southwest Group Sales vs Individual Ticket Prices
Last month I was booking a trip for my family. The search defaulted for “1 Passenger” and showed a one-way price of $111. Then I realized I needed to search for four passengers. Once I modified my search, it said my tickets cost $139 per passenger! Huh?
It turns out Southwest had limited “Wanna Get Away” fares…the cheapest fares. I then searched for “2 Passengers” and it said $111 per passenger again. Then I tried “3 Passengers” and it went back up to $139 per person. I could do one of two scenarios:
- 4 Passengers at $139 each is $556 + fees
- 2 Passengers at $111 each is $222 + fees and 2 Passengers at $139 each is $278 + fees
I saved $56 by booking 2 + 2 Passengers.
Group Sales Tip: If you are traveling with children, book at least one adult ticket first. They will not allow you to book a child fare from the age of 5-11 without an adult confirmation number on the same flight. Unless the child is an unaccompanied minor, there is an extra $50 each way.
7. Pay Cash for your Ticket and Points for Family
I need 110,000 points to get a Companion Pass tied to my Rapid Reward Number. Lately, I’ve started paying cash for my ticket to accrued more Rapid Reward Points. When I use my Chase Southwest Credit Card, it’s actually a double win. I get Rapid Reward Points from Chase and I also get Southwest points when I use dollars for a ticket. I then use points for my family members since they allocate points on their site to the respective passenger. Buying my daughter, a Wanna Get Away ticket a couple times a year will take several years before it becomes worth anything. On the other hand, every point I get helps me with a Companion Pass, A-List, and A-List Preferred.
A-List Benefits Tip: A-List status earns 25% bonus points on each flight and A-List Preferred status earns 100% bonus points on each flight when you pay with dollars.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Call a SWA Representative for Help
It seems like most call centers have “unusually long wait times” and unknowledgeable people reading from a script. Southwest Customer Service Representatives are helpful andcould not be any friendlier. They will try to help you with anything. Somequestions I’ve called and asked in the past:
- Flight was on sale and refunded me the difference
- Change flights
- Assist me in using my Companion Pass
- Southwest airlines lost and found inquiry
- Name change on a ticket after getting married
- Permanently enter my TSA Pre-check in the system for my known traveler number
I was only 900 points short of the 110k point target to get my Companion Pass. The representative was kind enough to put in a request that my Companion Pass to get approved even though I came up a bit short. In case you were wondering, yes, they approved my Companion Pass. It saved my wife from paying for four flights with me the following year. Savings like that help contribute to my kids Illinois 529 plan. This may have been a lucky break and may not happen to you.
If you know you’re going to come just short of points, you can either buy points or buy something on your credit card before the cutoff. I know going into November how close I am to getting the Companion Pass. Sometimes I delay purchasing Christmas gifts and sometimes I purchase them a bit early to reach 110k points.
Customer Relations A-List Benefits Tip: Southwest offers A-List holders and A-List Preferred holders a dedicated toll free phone number at 1-888-737-1005. Have your Rapid Reward number available to verify your membership.
9. Join the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining Program
Once you have the Chase Southwest credit card, register for the Rapid Rewards Dining. Do what you already do. Eat out at one of their 11,000+ participating restaurants, bars, or clubs and use your linked Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. When you review your list of bills to pay every month on your credit card statement, you will only see the total amount from the restaurant. The points will be deposited into your Rapid Reward account shortly afterward. You earn points on the entire restaurant bill including tax and tip. It’s free and easy to register your dining card.
You may earn up to an extra 1,000 bonus points in your first 30 days of the rewards program. Click here to see their current bonus program.
Sign up for email notifications from Rapid Rewards Dining to earn 3 points per $1.
Rapid Reward Dining Reward Tip: Know your surrounding restaurants. When traveling to different cities, you maybe surprised a restaurant you’re considering pays points for dining.
10. Free Southwest Airlines Entertainment
Do you know Southwest entertainment offers free select television channel on most flights? On my last flight, the passenger next to me had no idea the airline offers this free entertainment. Either your itinerary or when you board the plane will tell you whether it’s a WiFi-enabled plane. Plus, my kids always enjoy following the plane icon with the Southwest airlines in flight tracker live.
It’s easy to connect using a laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Get Connected using the following steps:
- Select “Southwest WiFi” to connect
- Once you launch your Internet browser, type southwestwifi.com
- You likely must watch a quick commercial then you will be free to watch Southwest tv
The Southwest tv choices include 18 live channels and 20 TV series:
- Fox News Channel
- Fox 5
- Discovery Channel
- FX Channel
- Fox Business
- NFL Network
- Disney Channel
If Southwest tv isn’t exciting enough for you, they also have movies. Southwest movies only cost $5 per movie for new errentals.
For full Internet access, they charge $8 a day per device on any WiFi-enable plane. The reason they say, “a day” is so you don’t get charged on connecting flights for WiFi. Warning: they limit the Internet bandwidth for streaming apps like Netflix, HBO GO, and VoIP. Only Southwest A-List Preferred passengers get free Wifi to surf the web.
Instead of using the Southwest WiFi to email and surf the web, you can stay connected with messaging access for free. You don’t need a Southwest WiFi promo code because messaging is free starting September 2018. Your texting and messaging app must be pre-downloaded on your device ahead of time. Whether your using free WiFi entertainment on a plane or at a cafe, you must always be smart using public WiFi. See our article on Sim hacking.
The Inflight Entertainment also offers free information like:
- Connecting flight information – delays and gate numbers
- Flight Tracker map
- Destination Information
- Southwest Inflight drink menu selection
GetConnected Tip: Don’t forget to switch to “airplane mode” once the door closes, otherwise your battery will drain fast searching for a cellular tower while in flight.
GetConnected TV Tip #2: Bring your earbuds or headphones with you onboard to listen to Southwest’s Inflight free Entertainment.
11. Your Baby May Travel for Free
Southwest’s open seating policy is great for parents traveling with children under two years old. You can carry your baby on board for free. If the flight is not 100% full, your child will likely get a free seat, but if it’s full then your child must ride on your lap. To verify age, Southwest will need a birth certificate for boarding verification.
The FAA Federal Aviation Regulation enforces the age limit for lap children. According to 14 CFR 121.311 (b) “Except as provided in this paragraph, each person on board an airplane operated under this part shall occupy an approved seat or berth with a separate safety belt properly secured about him or her during movement on the surface, takeoff, and landing. A safety belt provided for the occupant of a seat may not be used by more than one person who has reached his or her second birthday.”
Flying with Baby Policy Tip: If you don’t buy a seat for your infant, be prepared to have him on your lap the entire flight if it’s a full flight.
12. Book One-Way Flights to Your Southwest Destinations
One-way flights are easier to book using the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. If you need to rebook or change a leg of the flight, you will only receive a cash voucher for that one-way trip vs a round trip. Unfortunately, booking two separate one-way flights will result in two reservation numbers.
One-Way Flights Tip: While booking your two flights, use the same “Itinerary” title for both one-way flights to keep better track of your confirmation numbers.
13. Southwest Discounts for Seniors Age 65 and Over
Seniors citizen discount for Senior Fares are fully refundable for domestic and international flights. If you are traveling using a Senior Fare or infant ticket, you must present the travelers proof of age. A Southwest Customer Service Agent can accept a driver’s license, birth certificate, passbook, or government-issued photo ID that shows the traveler’s date of birth.
Unfortunately, in terms of discounts, Southwest Airlines bereavement policy or emergency fare does not exist. Their policy states they offer everyday affordable fares and your first two checked bags are free, instead of bereavement discounts. The best airline bereavement fares alternatives are listed here.
Senior Citizen Discount Age Tip: Perform the age verification for Senior Fares ahead of arriving at the airport. You will not be able to do online check-in or use the self-service kiosk until you are verified in the system.
14. Book Your Hotel and Rental Car Through Southwest
By booking your vacation packages, rental cars, hotel and flight through Southwest, you will earn Rapid Reward Points.
Southwest Hotel Booking Deals
The reasons to book with Southwest Hotels? The site offers over 65,000 hotel offerings with their best rate guarantee. $0 cancellation fees with some exceptions. Earn Rapid Rewards with Rapid Rewards Preferred Partners and receive points with Best Western, Carlson, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Marriott, MGM Resorts International, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Click here to book a hotel package.
Be sure to visit their “Special Offers and Travel Deals” page with deals like earning up to 10,000 points per night.
Southwest Airlines Promotion Codes and Car Rental Deals
Booking rental cars through Southwest offers a great selection, competitive rates, $0 cancellation fees, while earning Rapid Reward Points. Many of the rental car companies offer deals as high as 35% plus earn up to 2,400 points. I always start with the promo codes for Southwest airlines rental cars that offer the best deal. Southwest car rental partners include: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrify.
View the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards promo codes and discounts for current rental car deals, here.
Hotel Through Southwest Tip: Southwest offers the Best Rate Guarantee program for hotels so you feel comfortable knowing you get the best price. If your hotel reservation is offered at a lower rate on another website, contact SWA customer service immediately to match the price.
15. Join RocketMiles for Rapid Reward Points
RocketMiles allows you to book hotels and earn thousands of loyalty points per night. It’s simple:
- Book a hotel property throughout the world
- Earn at least 1,000 airline points per night
- Use those points to book more flights
Once you sign up for a free account, you just need to find and link your Rapid Rewards account number to start earning points going forward. RocketMiles will send your points within 2 weeks of your hotel check-out. The RocketMiles points will look like all your other Rapid Reward Points within your account.
Points Per Hotel Tip: Hotels in various cities can earn over 10,000 Rapid Reward Points a night. Compare dollars per night to points for the best deal.
16. Get the Companion Pass Rules
There is no promo in the airline industry that’s better than the Companion Pass. Many people refer to the Companion Pass promotion as their buddy pass or guest pass.
My wife has been my companion for over five years in a row! The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass lets you designate a chosen companion to fly with you for FREE. Yes, Free. Technically, you still have to pay the TSA fee, but yes, free. You can designate your spouse, your mom, your best friend, a co-worker …anyone you choose.
You can use your Companion Pass promotion on personal or business trips, as long as you are both on the same flight. The pass is good for both domestic and international destinations.
This is not your typical buddy pass to be redeemed for “one free ticket” with blackout dates, limited seat availability, and additional fees. Unlike other programs, you do not have to trade in the miles for the buddy pass. All those points you accrued are in addition to the Companion Pass.
Once you qualify for the Companion Pass, it’s good for the rest of the year along with the entire following year! There is a benefit to getting your status as early in the year as possible. For example, if you qualify on March 20, 2017, the pass will be valid until December 31, 2018.
Here’s the catch. You need to either accrue 110,000 Rapid Reward Points in a calendar year or fly 100 one-way flights.
Companion Pass Promotion by Getting 110,000 Rapid Reward Points isn’t impossible.
- Be sure to link the card to your personal Rapid Reward number so the points stack.
- Put everything on your Southwest credit card such as business expenses, cable bill, property taxes, McDonald’s, etc.
- Southwest randomly offers double points on all their flights during slower travel months. It can add up quickly, especially for Business Select flights. Business Select is the equivalent to Southwest airlines first class. If you book a Business Select fare for 5,000 points each way (10,000 points round trip) during a special, it could add up to 20,000 points. A few years ago, I flew from Chicago to San Francisco in January and then Chicago to Los Angeles in February during a promotion and received over 25,000 points for EACH trip. Two trips alone were worth over 50,000 Rapid Reward Points.
Southwest Companion Pass fare program allows you to change your designated companion up to three times per year. Maybe take your other best friend on a trip with you? Be aware there is no double-dipping companions. When you change or add a new companion, all your existing reservations with your old designation will be invalid.
Companion Pass Rules Tip: Know your credit card billing cycle. If your billing cycle ends December 5, then all your points until December 5 count toward THAT calendar year. Starting December 6, all new charges go toward the following calendar year’s companion points.
17. Check the Southwest Magazine for Coupons and Discounts
I didn’t know they had a magazine either.
They say Southwest: The Magazine is read by 5 million travelers for every issue. Within the articles, they have promotions, discounts, promo codes, and coupons sprinkled throughout the monthly Southwest spirit magazine. The coupons are often for restaurants at destinations and local parking and airport shuttles.
Just thumbing through the spirit magazine, I see offers like:
- SuperShuttle – 12% off airport rides
- Penn & Tellers Las Vegas show – 2-for-1 tickets for SWA passengers
- Charles Tyrwhitt promotions code – my favorite non-iron shirt I’ve worn for the last decade. These are terrific for traveling. When I get off the plane for a business appointment, my shirt looks fresh.
- TheParkingSpot – 10% airport parking coupon
- Multiple Southwest Airlines shopping suggestions in destination cities
Spirit Inflight Magazine Tip: Go online to Southwest: The Magazine to see past monthly issues for more coupons and discounts in various cities and online stores
18. I You’re Delayed, Let Customer Relations Know
If your plane was delayed due to a mechanical issue, send Southwest Airlines Customer Service your feedback. Typically, they will compensate you with a cash voucher for travel funds on a future flight. Also, if there are flight problems or delays, the flight attendants will give you a free alcohol in many cases.
Customer Relations Complaint Tip: If you are delayed more than 45 minutes, call Southwest or go to the customer service desk to rebook you onto another flight for free.
19. Earn Rapid Reward Points by Sharing Your Opinion
By filling out surveys and watching videos, you can earn additional Rapid Reward Points. Go to this Southwest survey pagePoints Promotion
Points Promotion Tip: First time enrollees receive bonus points at e-Rewards