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Lyn writes about Southwest and how she and her family fly almost entirely free around the US on her GotoTravelGal.com blog.
I’ve asked her to share when you should consider flying Southwest over another domestic airline flying the same route.
Lyn: My family LOVES to fly Southwest! Some people skip Southwest, considering them a discount airline not worth a look. But there are plenty of reasons Southwest might end up being the most affordable – and best – choice for your next North American flight.
That said, Southwest is NOT the right airline if flying in luxury is high on your list. But if flying affordably and receiving the best service in the industry ARE, I encourage you to give them a look. Here’s why.
5 Reasons to Consider Southwest for Your Next Domestic Flight
1. Southwest’s Frequent Flyer Program
Link: Southwest Rapid Rewards
Time and again, Southwest’s frequent flyer program, Rapid Rewards, earns top honors. I focus my family’s efforts on flying free on Southwest. Because it is the simplest, most efficient, and best deal in travel, especially the awesome Southwest Companion Pass, which lets a friend or family member fly nearly free with you for up to 2 years. Download my free ebook that shows you step-by-step how to earn the pass.
In creating my Frugal Flyer online course, which teaches you how to fly free in the US on all major airlines, I studied the loyalty programs for United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines in addition to Southwest. None of them compare to the flexibility and value of Southwest Rapid Rewards.
The top benefits include:
- Book ANY fare ANY time using Southwest points. No blackout dates or looking for rare “award seats”
- Earn the Southwest Companion Pass to completely eliminate the cost of 1 person’s flights from your budget. This is a TREMENDOUS savings that cannot be matched by any other airline!
- Cancel and re-book flights with no cancellation fee or change fees. If booked with Southwest points, they are fully refunded. If booked with cash on a Wanna Get Away fare (the lowest tier), you’ll receive a Southwest credit valid for a year
- Points prices are based on the cash prices and are not set based on distance. So when Southwest has a sale, points prices go down. By always booking during a sale, you can stretch your points FAR
- I’ve seen flights as low as 3,000 Southwest points round-trip at times! You’ll never see anything that low on other airlines, which average 25,000 points for a longer-distance round-trip domestic flight!
2. Top Quality Service
I have flown all major and several discount US airlines. And I’ve never experienced service like Southwest’s. There are airlines I will NOT fly – no matter the cost – because of the poor service I’ve experienced (I won’t name names!).
I’ve heard from so many readers who have had a problem with Southwest, like delayed or canceled flights like all airlines experience. But they felt it was well-handled and that they were more than sufficiently compensated.
Once, when I forgot to pick up a fork after getting a salad to bring on board, a Southwest flight attendant found me a stir stick (they don’t have forks on the plane) and showed me I could “stab” my salad. It worked! Southwest is the best in my book!
3. TWO Free Checked Bags
Especially when traveling with a family, the option to bring 2 free bags per person is SO helpful. When traveling to Walt Disney World, for example, we brought a checked bag full of snacks and breakfast items to save on the cost of eating at Disney.
The option to bring more clothes also helps reduce the amount of laundry while traveling, so you can enjoy the destination instead of standing by the washer / dryer. 🙂
If you’re looking at another airline, who may have a lower fare than Southwest, be sure to factor in the cost of checking bags for everyone and even for bringing a carry-on on board. Those fees add up FAST and may more than offset a slightly higher fare on Southwest.
4. No Seat Selection Fee
While most other airlines charge to select a seat unless you hold one of their credit cards or elite status, Southwest does not. But that is because there are NO reserved seats!
This is a slight drawback of flying Southwest. But the key to getting the best seat is to make sure you check-in on Southwest’s website exactly 24 hours ahead of your departure time. Your boarding order is based on when you check-in, so the sooner you do so, the sooner you’ll get to board and choose your seat.
While it’s rare that all 4 of us have been able to sit together, we’ve never had a scenario where at least 1 parent and 1 child could not sit together. I once forgot to check in until about 3 hours after the 24-hour mark, and while we sat in the back of the plane, we still did not have an issue.
5. Ease of Booking
While Southwest flights are ONLY searchable on Southwest.com, which does make it a bit tougher to compare with other airlines who may be listed on Google Flights or other flight search engines, it is very easy to book flights – with points OR cash – online.
Remember, there are no hidden fees on Southwest. While if you’re comparing prices for other airlines on various search engines, you may not be aware of additional fees for checked bags, seat selection, carry-ons, etc. For example, American Airlines’ cheapest fare is Basic Economy, but you’ll need to pay $25 for your first checked bag, as well as fees to bring a carry-on (only 1 personal item is allowed) AND to select your seat.
When booking your next US or near-international flight, use Southwest.com to compare costs with other airlines. And remember the benefits of 2 free checked bags, no seat selection fees, and outstanding customer service should you encounter an issue – and their traveler-favorite loyalty program.
Will you make the switch to Southwest for your next trip?