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Lyn writes about how to fly free on Southwest on her GotoTravelGal.com blog and has a free guide that walks you step-by-step through how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. The pass lets 1 person fly nearly free with you for up to 2 years.
We’ve asked Lyn to give us the scoop on the new features of Southwest’s online reservation system, which they quietly updated last week.
Lyn: If you’ve logged into Southwest.com in the last 2 weeks, you may have noticed that the online reservations system has a new look. But I’ve yet to see an announcement from Southwest about it.
After using it for a week or so, I’ve found some great new features they’ve added that I want to share with you. These updates should make booking flights on Southwest easier for everyone.
While we know Southwest upgraded its reservations system in 2017, consumers did not see much change in the way they book flights. Instead, the system was supposed to improve flexibility for offering different flight times on different days of the week and improve the ability to re-book someone in the case of missed or cancelled flights.
But, finally, the portion of the system that consumers use to book flights has also gotten a facelift, which is largely positive. Overall, the site has a cleaner look that makes it easier to view flights and complete your reservations.
4 Helpful Features of Southwest’s Updated Reservations Interface
Here are some of the useful features I’ve discovered after using the updated system:
1. See Difference in Price When Changing a Flight
This is my favorite new addition, because it makes it SO much simpler to see if you can save by re-booking a flight. When you click on “Change / Cancel” on the Southwest.com home page (about halfway down) and enter your confirmation number and name, it actually shows you how much more or less the current price – either in points or dollars – is from what you most recently paid.
In the above image, you’ll see that there’s zero difference in price from what I paid for a particular flight for the first 2 options and the bottom options would cost me even more.
You can choose to change one or both flight segments (departing and returning) and instantly make the change right there. I’ve already saved thousands of points by checking this feature each day!
One caveat: This does NOT work if you have added a Companion (if you hold the Southwest Companion Pass) to your flight. Instead, you’ll have to remember or go back and find how many points / dollars you paid for the flight and check the Low Fare Calendar to see if there’s a better deal.
If there is, you’ll have to REMOVE your companion from the flight under “My Account / My Trips” and then go to “Change / Cancel” to change and re-book. Once you book the new flight, you can go back and ADD your companion again, again under “My Account / My Trips” though sometimes it may take 24 hours before you can do this.
2. See If a Flight Is Close to Selling Out
When reviewing flights, the system now shows you how many seats are left, but only if the flight is close to selling out. I suppose it lights a fire under you to go ahead and book the flight, but it’s also good to know if you should grab it while you can.
Remember, you can always cancel a Southwest flight without paying a fee. If you have non-refundable fare, for which you paid cash or credit, you’ll get a travel voucher for the amount refunded that is good for 1 year. If you pay in points, your points are immediately refunded.
3. Display of the Number of Points You Can Earn for a Paid Flight
If you’ll be paying cash or credit for a flight, when reviewing flights and times, it now shows you how many points you will earn by booking and paying for a given flight.
Right now, Southwest is offering a targeted promotion that lets you earn DOUBLE points on any paid flights booked and completed by June 13, 2018. Check the “Promotions“ tab under “My Account“ when logged on to Southwest.com, or click on this link to see if you are eligible.
And don’t forget to factor in the additional Southwest points you’ll earn (2X points per $1) if you book your flight with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.
4. Get Security Fees Refunded for Canceled Flights
I’m pretty certain this is a new feature, as previously, when I would cancel a flight, I did NOT have the option to get my ~$6 per way mandatory security fees refunded to my credit card. Instead, it issued me a travel voucher, which had to be used for that person to whom the fee was tied and within a year.
That meant you had to make note of the confirmation numbers and person the voucher was tied to so you could use it when booking a new flight. The new interface allowed me to actually have the ~$6 security fee refunded to my credit card, instead. Yeah!!
Have you noticed any new features in the new system that I missed?
Southwest slipped a new redesign of its online reservation system under the radar over the last 2 weeks! It’s got awesome new features like the ability to see how much more or less a flight you booked now costs, and how many points you will earn by paying for the flight.
These upgrades should simplify the Southwest booking process, which has always been a bit cumbersome, and make it easier to save on Southwest flights!
What do you think of the new look and features?