Can I Change a Southwest Flight if I Booked a Roundtrip?

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This is part of the reader question posts that I started last week. You can view more reader questions here. Feel free to email me at if you have a question you’d like answered. 

This isn’t a reader question per se, but instead a comment I received in a post last week when I wrote about the Southwest fare sale going on at the time. It was a valid comment that I am sure many people are wondering when a Southwest flight price decreases and you want to get your points or money back on the fare difference.

The comment suggested:

“Book your [Southwest] RT award/paid travel on SW always as OW legs. That way, one can change flights one leg at a time to take advantage of sales fares. And sometimes better fares might become available on one leg only, the other going up or staying the same.”

However, with Southwest, you can get the fare difference back in the form of points or a voucher regardless if you booked your flight as a roundtrip or two one-ways! But I absolutely understand this misconception many readers might have.

So let’s say you booked a roundtrip with Southwest and only one way went down in price. You go about pretty much the same process as I described in this detailed post, but in Step 2 when you click the checkbox in the “Select Flights To Change” process you only select the checkbox for the leg of the flight that went down in price. You leave the other leg unchecked. This will then allow you to go ahead and change just one way of your flight leaving the other way unchanged. 

Additionally with Southwest, if you book a roundtrip flight and need to cancel one of the ways you can do that as well! The only disadvantage of booking as a roundtrip is that you will need to call Southwest reservations to cancel. You cannot cancel just one way of a roundtrip itinerary online.

You can learn more about the Southwest Rapid Rewards program in this series:

  1. Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
  2. Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
  3. Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
  4. Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
  5. Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
  6. Transferring Points to Southwest
  7. Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
  8. Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
  9. Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
  10. Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price

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6 years ago

I’ve called reservations to cancel one leg of a round trip before. It is a quick and painless process and they don’t charge you for doing it on the phone.

Mary M
Mary M
6 years ago

If you book roundtrip and one leg goes down (say as part of a sale), but the other leg has gone up by more than the sale discount on the other leg. Can you rebook just one leg without adjusting the price of the other leg? Since fares generally go up when fewer seats are available, I worry about this situation when booking RT.

6 years ago
Reply to  Mary M

@Mary M – Yes, you are able to re-book just one leg.

6 years ago

Hi can you clarify. I accidentally booked a trip using southwest points as a round trip. I am unsure if I’ll use the outbound so booked a separate outbound for a day later as a one way. However if I take the trip I’m definitely using the return flight that’s part of the roundtrip. If I decide to use the separate one way flight for the outbound, can I call SW and cancel the outbound of the roundtrip and get my points back?

priscilla martin
priscilla martin
5 years ago

I scheduled to leave on the 14th of may from San Jose calif. At 2:00 pm to midland Odessa. I need to know if I can changel my leaving on 17th instead

Tamara Arruda
5 years ago

I have a flight to leave on Aug 27 from Providence to Orlando then from Orlando to Providence on September 2nd. But I’d like to change my return flight instead of leaving Orlando on September 2nd I’d like to change it to September 5th . How hard would that be to switch? I wwould really appreciate it if it would be an easy process this trip is a family of my brother and I getting together after not seeing each other for 20 yrs and I can stay longer with him. Thanks you I’d appreciate a response sincerely Tamara Arruda

4 years ago

Sorry, I know this topic is dated, but I was wondering about Southwest change policy. I am looking at spring break flights 2016. I was wondering if the outbound time of 10:10 is “not available” and I choose an earlier time and then it does become available prior to my travel date; can I change flight times w/o penalty; or rather switch to another outbound flight? Is everything doable as long as it is prior to 10 minutes before departure? I notice some flights says: not available and others are sold out. What is the difference?

4 years ago

I made a reservation for 3 of us and now one person can’t go on the same flight. Is there a way to change or cancel only that persons?

Amy Levin
Amy Levin
3 years ago

How do I cancel one way of a round-trip Southwest flight online? Or do I have to call Southwest?

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