Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced!

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Southwest is now charging slightly more for award tickets.  In the past, Southwest sent e-mails with up to 6 months notice of any changes to points redemption.

But, folks on FlyerTalk are discussing the new Southwest award pricing that appears unannounced.

Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced

Southwest Increased the Number of Miles You Need for an Award Ticket – With NO Notice!

I’ll explain details of the increase!

What’s Happening?

Last year, Southwest changed their award pricing from a fixed price of 70 Southwest points per $1 to a variable pricing of 70 to 80 points per $1, depending on when you booked your flight and where you were traveling.

Despite the change, certain award tickets were still available for 70 Southwest points per $1.

Now, the cheapest available Wanna Get Away fares cost ~72 Southwest points per $1.

Let’s look at some examples.

Austin to Los Angeles Round-Trip

A round-trip flight from Austin to Los Angeles in July will cost 19,674 Southwest points.

Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced

This Round-Trip Award Flight Costs 19,674 Southwest Points

To find how many points you’re paying per $1, take the number of points required and divide it by the base fare (which doesn’t include the taxes and fees).  You can find the base fare by clicking “Fare Breakdown.”

The base fare for this flight is ~$273.

Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced

The Base Fare Is ~$273. With This Number We Can Now Figure Out How Many Points You’re Paying per $1

That’s a cost of ~72 Southwest points per $1 (19,674 Southwest points / ~$273 base fare).

One-Way Newark to Chicago

Now that you can book flights on Southwest through January 4, 2017, let’s take a look at a flight around the holidays.

A one-way flight from Newark to Chicago on December 26, 2016, costs 15,828 Southwest points.

Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced

You Could Pay 15,828 Southwest Points for a One-Way Flight From Newark to Chicago During the Holiday Season

The base fare for this flight is ~$208.

Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced

If You Paid Cash, The Base Fare Would Be ~$208

That’s a cost of ~76 Southwest points per $1 (15,828 Southwest points / ~$208 base fare).

This means Southwest is still using variable pricing and charging more if you’re flying during busy travel times (like the holidays).

But the best rate you will now find is 72 Southwest points per $1 compared to 70 points per $1 previously.

So a ticket with a $200 base fare which previously cost 14,000 Southwest points (at 70 cents per $1) would now cost 14,400 Southwest points (at 72 cents per $1).  It’s not a huge difference, but it adds up!

It’s disappointing to see the sudden increase, but Southwest award tickets are still a great deal.  There are no blackout dates when you use Southwest points as long as there are seats available for sale.

Despite the changes, Southwest is still my favorite airline for domestic flights because there are no change or cancellation fees and everyone gets 2 free checked bags.

And the Southwest Companion Pass is still the best deal in travel, because your companion can fly with you for almost free on paid and award tickets for up to 2 years!

How to Earn Southwest Points

Link:   Southwest Plus (Personal) Card

Link:   Southwest Premier (Personal) Card

Link:   Southwest Premier (Business) Card

You can currently earn 50,000 Southwest points on all 3 versions of the Southwest cards when you meet minimum spending requirements.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest.  These points do NOT count towards the Southwest Companion Pass.  But they are still good for booking (almost) free flights!

Bottom Line

Southwest changed their award pricing unexpectedly.  Previously, the cheapest available award tickets cost a fixed rate of 70 Southwest points per $1.  Now the cheapest award tickets cost 72 Southwest points per $1. 

The bad news is you’ll pay (slightly) more points for award tickets.  But Southwest flights are still a great deal, especially if you have Southwest Companion Pass!

Plus, everyone gets 2 free checked bags and there are no change or cancellation fees.

Let me know what rates you’re seeing when you book Southwest award flights!

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One response to “Southwest Increased Award Ticket Prices Unannounced!

  1. I found flights lower than .72 per $1. OMA – MDW RT is $276.46 or 16928 points

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