Step-by-Step: How to Change or Cancel a Southwest Flight

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Step-by-Step: How to Change or Cancel a Southwest Flight

Go to Travel GalStep-by-Step: How to Change or Cancel a Southwest FlightMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Lyn writes about how to fly nearly free on Southwest at GotoTravelGal.com.  And has created a Southwest Toolkit with 5 spreadsheets to help you manage your Southwest bookings, online shopping, minimum spending, and more.

I’ve asked Lyn to walk you step-by-step through how to change or cancel a flight on Southwest.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Changing or Canceling a Flight on Southwest With No Fees Could Save You Thousands of Points. Save Them to Use on Future Flights!

Lyn:   I love to fly Southwest for so many reasons.  But the ability to change flights when you find a better deal or outright cancel if you need is tops on my list along with 2 free checked bags per person!

It makes it much less stressful to book an upcoming flight with that in mind.  We often cancel and re-book when the points price for a Southwest flight decreases during a sale.  And recently saved 16,000 Southwest points across my family of 4 by changing our reservations!

Southwest’s No Change Fees & Refund Policy

Link:   Southwest Change Fee Policy

Link:   Southwest Refund Information

Southwest makes a big deal about the fact they do not charge their customers a change fee.  Some airlines charge as much as $150 if you need to change or cancel your flight.  Ouch!  Especially when traveling with kids, it’s wonderful to have that built-in cushion of knowing you can cancel if you need to.  I can’t tell you how many times my kids have gotten sick right before traveling!

If you want to completely cancel your flight, whether or not you will get a full refund depends on the type of fare you purchased.  We nearly always buy Wanna Get Away fares, because they are the cheapest, and my goal is to make my Southwest points go as far as possible across my family of 4.  But, Wanna Get Away fares are the only fare type that are NOT fully refundable if you paid in cash or by credit.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
The Type of Refund You Receive From Southwest Depends on the Fare You Purchased

However, while you will NOT get cash back or a credit to your card with Wanna Get Away fares, you will receive what Southwest calls Unused Travel Funds.  These funds, which include taxes and fees, can be used toward any future purchase with Southwest.  But they come with an expiration date that is typically 1 year from the date issued.

If you book with Southwest points and need to cancel, no problem;  your points are instantly credited to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.  But, because you had to pay the ~$6 mandatory government security fee with cash / credit, that refund will come in the form of Unused Travel Funds.  You’ll want to be sure you note the confirmation number and the person’s name for each set of Unused Travel Funds so you can re-use them later.  I’ll tell you more about how to redeem Unused Travel Funds in a bit.

You can change or cancel a flight up to 10 minutes prior to your departure time and receive either a full refund for refundable fares or Unused Travel Funds for Wanna Get Away fares.

How to Change or Cancel Your Southwest Flight

Step 1.   Sign-In to Your Southwest Account

It’s easy to change or cancel a flight on Southwest so you can always be sure you are stretching those Southwest points as far as they will go! 🙂

To start, go to Southwest.com and click “Log In at the top right.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Click “Log In” at the Top Right to Sign Into Your Southwest Account

Enter your account number or username and your case-sensitive password.

Step 2.   Choose “Change  / Cancel Flight”

On the main screen after you log-in, scroll down to the “Change / Cancel Flight tab on the right-hand side of the screen.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Find the “Change / Cancel” Tab in the Top Right Corner of the Screen

Step 3.   Enter the Confirmation Number and First and Last Name

Next, enter the confirmation number from your reservation, as well as the flyer’s first and last name.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Enter Your Flight’s Confirmation Number and the Passenger’s Name

You may have individual confirmation numbers for each person if their tickets were booked separately, or before Southwest upgraded to their new reservation system in May 2017.  Or everyone could all be under the same confirmation number if booked together, or after the new reservation system came online.  Any changes you make will affect ALL people on the reservation.

Step 4.   Choose “Change Flight” or “Cancel Flight”

Depending on if you want to change or cancel your flight, choose the correct button on the right and then click “Search.”

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Once You Select “Change” or “Cancel” Flight, Click on “Search”

How to CANCEL Your Southwest Flight

If you have a refundable Southwest fare (which includes Business Select, Senior, or Anytime fares) and want to change your flight, you will want to CANCEL the ticket first, request a refund (which you will be prompted to do online or can do by phone), and then re-book versus selecting “Change” on the home screen.  Because according to Southwest, changing your refundable reservation turns a refundable fare into a non-refundable fare.

If you have a non-refundable ticket, you will NOT get a refund to your card.  Instead, you’ll receive a “credit” in the form of Unused Travel Funds with Southwest should you cancel.  And the Unused Travel Funds expire within 1 year of issue.

However, if there are any Unused Travel Funds from an older ticket associated with this reservation, the new reservation inherits the earliest expiration date from any of those funds.

The expiration date will be in the confirmation email you receive.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Make Sure of the Flight You Want to Cancel, Make Note of Unused Funds, Then Click Cancel Flight

After you enter your confirmation number and name, Southwest will find your reservation.  Review the information to make 100% sure this is the flight and reservation you want to cancel.  You’ll also want to make note of any Unused Travel Funds that will be credited back to you and what confirmation number they are associated with.

Then select “Cancel Flight to finish the transaction.  At that point, you will be asked if you’d like a refund credited back to your card or if you’d like a Southwest credit in the form of Unused Travel Funds.  Make your selection and the process is complete.

How to CHANGE Your Southwest Flight

Before changing your flight, you’ll need to be logged-in to the same person’s Southwest account who made the reservation.

Step 1.   Select the Flights You Want to Change

Review the flights included in your reservation and check the box next to the flights you want to update.

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Check the Box Next to the Flights You Want to Update

Step 2.   Search for New Flights

Type in the new dates or cities you would like to search – or leave them the same if you are looking for better pricing on the same day – and choose “Select New Flights.”

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Enter in New Cities or Dates to Review and Then Choose “Select New Flights”

Step 3.   Select New Flights

Choose your new flights and then click “Continue.”

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Pick Your New Southwest Flights and Hit “Continue”

Step 4.   Review Your Flights and Prices

Once you have selected your new flights, review your choices, and confirm the pricing – in points or cash.  Then click “Continue and then “Purchase.”

Step By Step How To Change Or Cancel A Southwest Flight
Review Your New Flights and Pricing and Click “Continue”

How to Redeem Unused Travel Funds

You will have Unused Travel Funds if you cancel a non-refundable reservation that you paid for in cash or credit.  You will get Unused Travel Funds for the ~$6 security fee per-way portion of a canceled non-refundable ticket booked with Southwest points.  These are great to use in the future on tickets booked with points to cover the cost of the security fee for the same person.

To redeem Unused Travel Funds when buying flights on Southwest, you’ll see an option on the purchase page to use them.  You will need to have the confirmation number of the funds and the name of the person they are associated with.  You can only redeem them for that same person.

Again, they expire within 1 year of the date of issue, but you will receive an email that clearly states the expiration date.

Want More Southwest Points?

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Link:   Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

Through October 4, 2017, all 3 Chase Southwest credit cards are offering a 60,000-point sign-up bonus.  So there’s no better time to collect Southwest points than right now!

It’s also a good opportunity to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets a friend or family member fly nearly free with you for up to 2 years, because you can earn all of the required 110,000 Southwest points by signing-up for just 2 cards.  Download my free Step-by-Step Guide to Earning the Southwest Companion Pass for complete details!

Bottom Line

The ability to change or cancel a reservation with Southwest is a huge benefit you should take advantage of, not only in the event of an unforeseen cancellation, but to re-book a flight at a lower cash or points price.

It’s a simple process that can be completed online in just a few steps, and could potentially save you thousands of points!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Need to only change the return Flight date and out of a different airport in Florida. Can I cancel only the return flight of a roundtrip tix. and then rebook the return flight?

On my reservation I put my first mane as Dan yet on my Drives license it is Daniel. How do I change to daniel?

Southwest Airlines Change Flights are cost-effective airlines carriers in the United States and headquartered in Dallas, Texas. As of October 2016, more than 53,000 employees who operate more than 3,000 departments per day during peak season.

https://sites.google.com/view/southwest-airline-number/blogs/southwest-airlines-customer-services

Need to change return date only of an already booked flight. Benefit of cancelling and rebooking vs. just changing date?

You might want to also mention that if someone has paid the $15 Early-bird Check-in Fee that is non-refundable whether on a non-refundable, refundable or award ticket.

Error in post: your $5.60 taxes WILL be refunded to your card. Taxes and fees on SW are always 100% refundable. Please fix.

Author

Hi Justin, I just double-checked with Southwest and they said if you cancel a non-refundable fare (ie Wanna Get Away fares) that was paid for with a credit card, all funds — including the $5.60 security fee and taxes — are issued in the form of Unused Travel Funds. So they do not credit your card back for the security fee and taxes. I know when I have cancelled a ticket that I purchased with points but paid for the security fee with a card, the security fee funds were returned to me as a travel fund. Thanks!

My apologies – I meant when you book with points and cancel, you get the taxes back as a refund.

I’ve had the same experience as Justin. I’ve cancelled point bookings since the change (with the latest being a few weeks ago), and I am offered the option of refunding the $5.60 or keeping it as a credit. I always choose the refund to the CC. I always book one-way flights, so I’m not sure if it is different for round-trip.

Author

I have not had that experience (cancelling a ticket booked with points and being able to choose to refund the $5.60 to a credit card; it’s always only been offered as a unused travel fund for me) but it looks like they may have eliminated that possibility when they made the switch to the new reservation system in May. See this series of posts from their online community: https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/General-Travel-Policies/September-11-Security-Fee-no-longer-refundable/td-p/51510 Thanks!

I too just canceled a SW flight that was booked on points. I was given the option of a refund for the taxes to my credit card or an unused travel refund.