Compared to all the other US airlines, Southwest has the best change and cancelation policy out of them all. We are a big Southwest family, especially due to having the Southwest Companion Pass. That coupled with there flexibility really makes them a winner in my opinion. When using points, I can make flights far in advance and I do not need to worry about a change fee if we need to cancel. Schedules change quite often in my family and Southwest allows me to make flights worry-free. Hint: You can change and cancel a Southwest flight with no fee at all! While I typically book with points, this can be done with paid flights as well.
- Related: Southwest Credit Card Offers
Canceling a Southwest Flight
You can cancel a Southwest flight without any fees at all — this even includes their lowest “Wanna Getaway” fares. The process is quite easy and you can even do it online.
If you paid for your Southeast ticket and need to cancel, you’ll receive a travel fund back.
If you need to cancel a Southwest flight, you will receive a travel fund back in the full amount paid. The travel fund is valid for one year from when the ticket was originally purchased, NOT from when the flight was canceled. The travel fund is also not transferable and can only be used for the same passenger, regardless of who paid for the flight.
When you are ready to redeem the travel fund on a future flight, you’ll need to change the payment method on the last screen online. The voucher is tied to the original confirmation number. Make sure to keep that confirmation number on hand.
Note: If you purchased your original ticket with a Southwest credit or voucher, you’ll still receive a credit back in the full amount paid. Unfortunately though, the expiration date will stick with the original expiration date and not extend the date. Also, any new payments will inherit the earliest expiration date from any funds applied.
If you used points and need to cancel your Southwest flight, the points will go back into your account.
If you cancel a Southwest ticket that was originally purchased with points, you’ll receive the full amount of points back into your account. The points will go back into the account from which they were pulled from, even if they were used on another passenger.
Even the taxes and fees paid will go back to the credit card used. Just make sure to select “Request a refund” from the Refund Method drop-down menu. (If you used a gift card to pay for the taxes and fees, that will be returned to you in the from of a travel fund).
Changing a Southwest Flight is Free
If you have already have a flight booked and you are looking to change your Southwest ticket to a different date (or even a city pair), Southwest allows you to change a ticket also with no fee. However, if the new flight is more expensive, you will have to pay the fare difference.
On the flip side, if your flight goes down in price, you’ll receive a voucher or your points back. You can re-price your flight as many times as possible, up until 10 minutes prior to the flights departure time. This means you can go ahead and make a flight far out in advance and if a Southwest fare sale comes along, you can check to see if your flight is now in fact less. Southwest even makes it really easy for you. No phone calls required and you can do it all online. I personally check out my upcoming Southwest flight reservations on a daily basis. It takes just a few minutes and can save you thousand of points.
If you paid for the Southwest flight and you need to change, you’ll receive a credit for the difference.
If you paid for the flight and the Southwest flight has gone down in price, you’ll receive a Travel Fund for the difference in price. Of course if the price has gone up in price, you’ll be on the hook to pay the difference. Similar to canceling a flight, you have one year to use the voucher from the date the flight was originally purchased.
If you used points for the Southwest flight and you need to change, you’ll receive the points back.
If you booked using points, the difference in the number of points redeemed will go directly back into your account. Or, if the flight is now a higher price in points, you’ll need to redeem more Southwest points for that particular ticket.
Steps to Getting Your Flight Re-Priced
In your Southwest account, you’ll be able to see all of your upcoming flights. Just click on “My Account” in the upper right-hand corner. Halfway through the page you’ll see “My Trips”. Click on “Upcoming” right below it and all of your future flights will appear. For the flight you want to change, click “Change Flight”.
You’ll then want to select the exact same flight that was originally purchased. Southwest will actually automatically include the city pairs and travel date.
Your flight options will appear and if there is a negative sign (-) next to your flight, that means the fare has gone down in price. If there is a positive sign (+) that means the fare has increased. If the fare has in fact gone down in price, select the lower fare and continue through the process of actually purchasing the fare. Note: Re-pricing a flight works much better on Southwest.com vs. the Southwest app.
On the next screen, you’ll see that you are getting a credit for the total difference in points. The process works exactly the same if you paid for your flight. Just make sure to finalize the entire process with actually changing your flight with the new fare. Your confirmation number will stay the same.
Note: This is the exact same process as changing your original flight to a different flight.
If flexibility is your No. 1 priority, then Southwest is the way to go. Being able to change and cancel a flight with absolutely no fee saves my family a ton of points on a regular basis. It also allows us to book flights even if we aren’t 100% sure if the dates will work. This is one of the best reasons for using Southwest points to book a flight.
I don’t understand. I thought certain fares i.e. Business and Senior fares were fully refundable to your credit card and didn’t have to be used for another Southwest ticket. Please explain further. Thanks
@Old Flyer – That is correct. It is the “Wanna Getaway” fares that I’ve outlined. I’ll be comparing the differences between fares and their perks in a future post.
I have three $30 credits under my wife and kids. The kids are both minors, is there any way to transfer their credits to my wife’s name because of this?
@Andy – unfortunately southwest doesn’t allow you to transfer credits
I have a. reservation for a ticket from MCI to. PHX.
Feb. 21- 25, 2015.
I just got out of the hospital. Had pacemaker implant / lung colasp.. I am restricted for flying until the doctor permits.
What can l do with the ticket l have purchased?
@Marjorie – Call Southwest customer service (not reservations but customer service). Explain the situation to them and with a doctors note you should be fine.
Southwest has their “low fare finder”, covering their lowest fares for any given month, but I’ve not been able to find a comparable feature for AirTran; do you know if there is such? Or, lacking that, how can one go about finding the best AirTran fare over a month, other than checking a day at a time?
@Jack – Unfortunately AirTrans interface is not as user friendly. You can used kayak which will pull in three days before and after.
I cancelled a ticket over the phone and tried to get the taxes credited back to my card, but they said they couldn’t do it. It was all tied to the confirmation code and they couldn’t separate the base fare from the taxes.
@Kay – Only when you book with points will you get the taxes credited back to the credit card that was used to book the reservation. With a paid reservation both the fare + taxes will be given back in the form of a credit.
I have cancelled many flights using points. After not getting my taxes back the first time I called Southwest. You have to physically right down each confirmation code, one for passenger and companion. The next time you book you use that code and enter under travel funds, then choose the travel funds option. Then that money is put towards your new taxes. I have done it a dozen times because I always booking advance with my points and as you know sometimes life happens and you can’t go.
Hi, did you pay for the tax with SW gift cards or a credit card?
@Chister – I always use my credit card to pay for the tax. This way incase I need to cancel, the taxes paid go straight back to my credit card.
[…] Southwest is having a four day sale for non-stop routes including Chicago, Baltimore, and Orlando (flight must be purchased by April 22 at 11:59pm local time of the originating flight). This is for travel May 3 through June 30, 2013. I looked up some non-flight stops to these three destinations and found some pretty cheap fares, so if you are looking to travel to these destinations it is worth checking it out. OR, if you already have flights booked involving these cities, check to see if your flight went down in price and you can get a credit! You can check how to do this in this prior blog post on “Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket.” […]
If I buy a ticket for someone, and they can’t go and tell me this in advance, can I get the credit and use it for myself in the future or does it have to be the original person I bought the ticket for? Thanks!
@andrea – if you purchase with credit card and then cancel the credit amount can only be used for the person that the ticket was originally purchased for. If purchased with points then they just go back into your account and can be used again by anyone.
Thanks Dealswelike. That’s interesting that one form of payment can affect who uses it next. Good to know for flaky friends hahaha. Too bad one can’t then just buy points.
I recently purchased two round trip Southwest tickets using my Southwest credit card and charged the tickets. I was just rewarded the 50,000 points and wonder if there is any way to change instead of cancel the charged ticket to points instead?? Thanks!
@Linda – you’d have to book a new reservation.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who obsessively checks southwest prices after booking! I bought my first ticket with this new rewards system and I’m glad I can do the same with my points. Wahoo!
So if I need to cancel a round trip ticket, used No points will I get money back?
@Tammy – You will get back the amount paid in a credit which expires one year from the date you purchased the ticket. The credit is not transferable.
What happens if you take longer than a year to use the credit that was given because you already cancelled once?
So my husband and I are military and we bought the round trip wanna get away tickets but our leave dates switched. So now we have to change the tickets. There shouldn’t be a problem if it’s just a day or so off. What I’m aasking is what will happen.. thanks!
@Krysta – Southwest does not charge any change fees. So if the price is exactly the same then the credit will get applied to the new date. If the price is less than the difference in price will go back as a credit good for one year from the date booked. If the price is more then you will need to pay the difference.
Southwest is slowly becomes like all the others; now you have to cancel your flight 10 min before scheduled takeoff or you don’t get your credit back. Also, some time back they disallowed use of one person’s funds by another person. Still they are better in other ways mentioned here.
Can I book two completely separate trips with just one cancelled trip’s worth of travel funds? My original trip’s fare was pretty expensive, so I would like to use it toward more than one future trip (within the required year). I know the tickets bought need to be directly for me, but I cant seem to find anywhere if its possible to split travel funds between two different future trips.
@RK – Absolutely! Think of it as a gift card where any remaining amount can be used on the next purchase.
I could really use some advice. I purchased 2 round trip tickets from Grand Rapids MI to Aruba on AirTran 11/15/13. Yesterday I had to cancel the trip and they gave me a credit minus $300. Here’s my problem, when I went to book a trip that we could take I discovered that AirTran no longer flys from Grand Rapids Mi, now that area is serviced by SWA. I called air tran to ask what I should do and they told me I am out of luck and would need to fly out of Detroit (about 3 hours away). Any thoughts?
@katy – you can still purchase southwest operated flights via airtrans website. Is the system not allowing you to apply your voucher when a southwest flight is included in the itinerary?
What if I pay with points (for base fare) and gift card (for tax)? I know points will be back to my account, but tax will be refunded to gift card balance or travel fund?
@SH – The taxes will be refunded to a travel fund (which has expiration dates)
What if I checked in within 24 hours of a flight, would I still be able to cancel my flight and get credit? thanks.
@Stan – Yes
I have a small number of SW rapid rewards points. I also have 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase Preferred card. I need tickets for my friend and myself to Florida.
For maximum benefit,
1)should I purchase tickets for my trip out of the Chase travel website or
2) transfer my UR points to my SW account and then purchase the flights using points?
What if the price drops….how would that affect either plan?
@jam64 – You will get the best value by transferring your UR points to your SW account and then purchase the flight using your Southwest points. You actually cannot book Southwest flights from the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Regardless, you still get a better value by transferring your UR points to your SW account and then purchasing the flight with your SW points.
If the price drops the difference in points will be credited to your Southwest account (assuming you actively change your flight for the lower price ticket).
Thanks …. good info.
If I redeem some of my SW Rapid Rewards points for a car rental for my daughter using the More Rewards link on SW, will those points be re-deposited in my RR account if she cancels the car rental before the rental date?
Are there any cancellation fees for car rentals purchased with Rapid Rewards?
@jam64 – Off the top of my head I actually do not know. I’ve never used my points for a rental car. I’ll look into it and get back to you.
My neighbor who has been just given a terminal diagnosis of cancer has cancelled a reservation for a trip she had thought she’d be taking in March. Clearly, the credit does her no earthly good. How can she:
A. Get a refund or B. Transfer the credit to someone else?
@Meredith – Southwest’s general policy is a voucher in the name of the traveling passenger valid one year from date of purchased. With that said, I suggest calling Southwest and asking to speak to customer service. My assumption is they will make special accommodations as long as you provide documentation (a doctors note). I had a similar situation with the companion pass and they were very accommodating as long as there was proof.
Apparently, if a car rental is made with Rapid Rewards points and subsequently cancelled, the points are lost.
I have made round trip reservations. Can I cancel part of my round trip and still get full credit? Credit is good for one calendar year so if I made my reservation on Feb. 25 do I have to actually travel somewhere by that date or just make another reservation by that date?
@Sherri – You need to travel by that date (unfortunately)
I’ve flown the outbound leg of a round trip ticket purchased with points and now find it necessary to cancel the return trip. Do I get full credit for the return trip ticket?
@PJ – Yes you will get full credit back for the return trip/
Hi…I’ve read your comments about cancelling a flight and getting a credit for a subseequent flight within one year…is there any possibilites of getting the funds credited back to my credit card? I know for sure I cannot book a another flight within a year’s time.
@faz – you can call customer service and ask to speak to a supervisor. Explain your situation and maybe they will allow it. I believe you’d need some sort of doctors note though (just from prior experience)
If I purchase a roundtrip ticket for my wife and I, but then need to change the travel dates of just one leg, and just for me, can I cancel just my one part of the package, leaving my return and her roundtrip intact? Or will I need to cancel both complete round trips?
I’m trying to figure out if I need to purchase our tickets separately (and purchase mine as two one-ways), to have the flexibility to cancel and apply the funds to a new flight, without risking the entire ticket price going up if we have to repurchase then.
I know I’m risking having to pay extra if the new date for my flight there is more than the original price, but at least I won’t have to worry about having to pay more for my return flight or her full round trip if the fares have changed!
@Fred – The great thing about Southwest is even if you book as a roundtrip, you are actually booking individual one-ways since they price out separately. If you need to cancel one of the one-ways, just call Southwest and they will be able to cancel one of the one-ways for you while keeping the other one-way intact.
Do I have any recourse if I forgot to use my voucher and it is expired?
@Sheryl – Call Southwest’s customer service. If you get the reservations line, ask for the customer service number – they work business hours and many times you’ll get a busy signal, but keep on calling. Many times they will make an exception. Let me know and goodluck!
I canceled a flight November 2013 so my points expire this November 2014. Can I book a flight that is for after November if I book it before November?
My dad cancelled his flight and got a travel fund and he wanted to give it to me but when i booked the ticket it says i have to put the person the travel fund is credited to name on the traveler? Is there a way i can change to my name?
@Lily – Unfortunately the credit can only be used for the person who the flight was originally booked for. Credits are non-transferrable.
Can you change a ticket reservation for just one person if there are two people on the reservation?
My husband and I are both booked for round trip flights from PHX to Kansas. I want to change my ticket so it goes from to SLC to Kansas. Is this possible without him having to change his ticket as well?
@Morgan – Yup! When you go into change your reservation online it will ask you which passenger you’d like to change. You can select both your names or just one and change your reservation from there.
I’m returning from a cruise and don’t know if I can make the early flight. Can I book two flights on the same day and cancel if I can’t make the first?
@Sue – Yes you can. Just make sure to cancel the flight you do not take at least 10 minutes prior to scheduled departure time.
How many times are you allowed to change a flight on southwest? I originally thought that you could only apply the credit for canceling a flight once.
@brandon – as many times as you want!
So I booked tickets on the southwest app and it was being slow and a sign popped up saying error retry so I retried it and It went through so I checked my account and it charged me twice and I got 2 emails saying it went through twice so it did the transaction twice and I got 2 different transaction codes so I cancelled one of the trips not even a minute after I booked it and I called southwest and they said it would go back in my account. But will it ???
@summer – did you book with points or pay for the flight? If cancelled within 24 hours on a paid flight the credit card used will be refunded. If you used points the points will go back to the account they came from.
I booked roundtrip tickets for my husband and myself to Denver. He may not be able to go as he has an opportunity to travel to China for his job. Will I be able to either get my money back or will I be offered a travel voucher for a later time?
@Debra – as long as you cancel your ticket 10 minutes prior to flight take off you will get a full refund. If you booked with points the points will go back to your account. If a paid ticket then you’ll receive a credit for the total amount of the flight valid one year from when the flight was originally booked.
I purchased tix last year and couldn’t make the trip due to an injury. My tickets are expiring in feb but I won’t be able to travel by then. Can redeem any part of tickets and use it at a laterrible date?
@nicole – Call customer service. Sometimes they are really good with extended it or allowing you to pay a fee to extend it.
I purchased/booked 4 round trip tickets on January 8, 2013 in which I had cancelled, leaving me with SW full refund credits— that were good if I used the SW credits, within one year. When the year was up in 2014, I was unable to use the SW credits due to my brother unexpectidely passing away in Feb 2014, and 2-months later in March 2014, my dad passed away on my brothers birthday. I called SW customer relations and they issued a full credit for all 4 tickets, with LUV vouchers, good for one year from original booking date of Jan 8, 2013, which I had to fly and complete my trip by Jan 8, 2015. In October 2014, my grandmother passed away, which was another loss within the same year, and the holidays were approaching. I just couldn’t use the LUV vouchers by Jan 8, 2015, with all the sorrow I was feeling and flying was the last thing I was thinking about. I called customer relations again on Jan 8, 2015 asking to please give me another 45 days, but with no luck, they were unable to issue my credits for all 4 tickets, equalling $511.20. I was very upset and wondered why SW customer relations couldn’t make an exception for me, given my situation was not a typical excuse. Mentally, I couldn’t take off on a plane by Jan 8, 2015, with a smile, right after the sadness I endured during the holidays. Is there any suggestions for getting my credits back? Thanks
@Kim – I am so sorry to hear about these unfortunate events. That is horrible. In regards to Southwest extending the credits, I think that was very nice of them to extend it the first time so I do not think they will extend it a second time. Another airline, unfortunately, wouldn’t have even extended it the first time for you and probably would have charged you a change fee to begin with. Again, I am so sorry.
I booked two round trip tickets to FL. Unfurtunately, I can’t make the trip. Can I cancel my ticket and still let the other passenger travel? The tickets were booked in my name… Thank you
I booked two round trip tickets to FL. Unfortunately, I can’t make the trip. Can I cancel my ticket and still let the other passenger travel? The tickets were booked in my name… Thank you