With many travelers now looking to change their flights due to the Coronavirus, Southwest still offers one of the most flexible change and cancelation policies. These policies are not just due to the virus, but policies that are in place always — offering customers the most flexible options regardless of the reason. To cancel a southwest flight, you’ll never be hit with a fee — regardless of the fare type. Same goes for changing a southwest flight. You can also simply modify your reservation online without even having to pick up the phone.
Canceling Southwest paid reservation
Southwest offers customers the options to purchase fully refundable (Business Select or Anytime) or non-refundable fares (Wanna Get Away). However, do not let the non-refundable fares fool you. You can still cancel these fares at any point, you’ll just end up with a Southwest Travel Fund credit. The Business Select and Anytime fares are much more expensive, although when you cancel those flights, the amount paid goes straight back to the credit card used. With all fares, just make sure to cancel at least 10 minutes prior to your flight.
If you are canceling a Southwest Wanna Get Away fare and end up with a Southwest Travel Fund, you have one year from the date the flight was originally purchased to use the credit. Additionally, when you go to book a new flight using the credit, any extra amount put towards the fare will also become non-refundable and will inherit the same expiration date as the original credit used.
For example, let’s say you book a $100 flight on March 10, 2020 for a flight on June 1, 2020. If you cancel your flight prior to travel, you’ll end up with a $100 Travel Fund credit. This credit can be used at any point for travel through March 10, 2021. If your new fare is $200 — meaning you use $100 from the Travel Fund and put $100 on your credit card — and you cancel that new flight, all $200 will end up in a Travel Fund again. The thing to note is that this new $200 Travel Fund will still have a March 10, 2021 expiration date tied to it regardless of when the new flight was booked.
Canceling Southwest point reservations
Southwest has one of the best policies when it comes to booking flights with points. All fares are 100% refundable, even the lowest Wanna Get Away fares. Regardless of the cancelation reason, you can cancel your flight at any point and receive the full amount of points back into your account.
You will not be charged a redeposit fee, like many of the airlines charge, and even the taxes and fees paid will go back to your credit card.
This means you can fully make Southwest flights without the concern that you might have to cancel.
Changing a flight with points or cash
Southwest also allows you to change a flight for free. Yes, absolutely free — no fees charged. This is not a policy put in place due to Coronavirus, but their mainstream customer-friendly policy that you always have with Southwest.
When making a change, if the flight is less expensive, you’ll receive a difference in the fare. If you paid for the flight, the difference will be given in a Travel Fund credit or if you used points, they’ll go straight back into your account. This also means that if the flight goes down in price, you’ll receive a credit ot your points back. You can also re-price your flights as many times as you’d like between making the flight and your actual travel dates. This can be done online and typically just takes a minute or two.
One reason you’ll want to simply change your flight (even it is for a fully different flight), instead of canceling and rebooking, is if you already paid for EarlyBird check-in. With EarlyBird check-in, Southwest will not reimburse the fee paid if you cancel. However, if you simply change your flight, Early-Bird check-in will follow the same confirmation number.
I love that Southwest doesn’t need to put any special waivers in place for passengers to make fully flexible reservations. Coronavirus or not, you can go ahead and make a reservation at any point without being hit with a massive fee or change or cancel. This is one reason why using points is highly recommend since you can make as many reservations as needed and never be hit with a Travel Fund credit. Although, receiving a Travel Fund credit, even if you are paying for the flight, is still better than paying a hefty fee like many of the other airlines charge.