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You can now use Southwest points to fly to 3 international destinations.
Unlike other airlines which usually open their schedule ~ 11 to 12 months in advance, Southwest opens their schedule ~ 6 to 8 months in advance.
Save Points By Booking Now For Flights Up To August 8, 2014
You don’t pay a penalty to cancel a Southwest flight paid with points (the points go back to your account when you cancel), so you can book your summer travel before you confirm your plans.
You can use fewer Southwest points if you redeem your points before March 31, 2014 for flights on Southwest after March 31, 2014.
That’s because the cost of using points will increase for flights booked after March 31, 2014. So your points will be worth ~15% less if you book a flight on, say, May 1, 2013 which is AFTER March 31, 2014.
But you will pay fewer points for the same flight if you book them with points BEFORE March 31, 2014. And you can cancel and rebook your ticket without a fee if the number of points required for the award drops or if your plans change!
You can get a credit for or the entire ticket amount (no change fees on Southwest!) valid for up to 1 year from when you booked the flight, if you cancel a paid flight on Southwest at least 10 minutes prior to departure.
Note that you should be able to cancel an AirTran ticket for free as long as you booked it on the Southwest (and not on the AirTran) website.
Other Ways to Earn Southwest Points
You can instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, (no longer offered) Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus to Southwest Airlines on a 1:1 ratio, if you’re running low on Southwest points.
And don’t forget the sign-up bonus on the Southwest credit card!
Note that transferring points directly from Ultimate Rewards to Southwest do NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
Southwest Companion Pass
If you have a Southwest Companion Pass, your companion will fly free with you, on BOTH paid flights or flights booked with points.
You can book a seat for yourself, and add your companion later if you don’t currently have a Companion Pass.
Read this post for all you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass! You get the Companion Pass after earning 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points in a calendar year.
AirTran Schedule Open Through August 8, 2014
You can also book flights on AirTran up to August 8, 2014.
Southwest and AirTran have connected their networks, so you can usually book AirTran flights (within the US and NOT to international destinations) on the Southwest website.
If you book AirTran flights from the Southwest website, you won’t pay for 2 checked bags and you won’t pay a fee for cancellations!
You should book on the AirTran website if you want to pay for the privilege of getting an assigned seat, but you’ll also have to pay for your checked bags. I’d personally prefer saving money on checked bags than getting an assigned seat.
- You have to call AirTran at 800-247-8726 and request a credit (less the cancellation fee) when you cancel a paid flight.
- You have to call at least 1 hour prior to departure
- AND you will pay a $150 fee per passenger
You will be issued a credit for the remaining balance valid for up to 1 year after the booking was made. If you don’t call at least 1 hour prior to departure you forfeit your airfare.
Southwest and AirTran schedules are open through August 8, 2014.
It doesn’t hurt to book your summer 2014 travel now, even if you’re not 100% sure of your plans.
That’s because Southwest does not charge change fees so there is no penalty for canceling the flights and re-booking. And because your Southwest points are worth ~15% less if you use them to book award flights after March 31, 2014.