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How to Find & Book the Best Southwest Flight Deals

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Southwest Airlines is known for its low prices, open seating policy, generous baggage policy, and other quirks. While the airline is polarizing among travelers, it undoubtedly offers tremendous value.

The Dallas-based airline brags about its transparency and largely lives up to its promise. Southwest has an easy-to-use l0w-fare calendar where you can easily see the cheapest days to fly. It also outlines everything that is and isn't included when you click the fares on the website or app. Plus, Southwest's lowest fares still include all the things that make Southwest great like free bags, change and cancelation flexibility, same-day changes, and flight credits that don't expire.

Add in that Southwest Rapid Rewards points are perhaps the easiest-to-use (and earn as they're a Chase transfer partner) airline miles of all the U.S. carriers, and you've got yet another reason to search and book through the low-cost carrier.

The one big drawback, however, is that Southwest doesn't cooperate with Google Flights, meaning it's harder to price shop against the other major airlines to find the best fares. With Google Flights being the first stop for most flyers, it's a bummer that you can't see Southwest's fares alongside American, Delta, United, and others.

Still, there are tons of reasons to love Southwest, one of which is how easy it is to book flights directly through Southwest.com or the Southwest app.

Whether you're a Thrifty Traveler Premium member trying to take advantage of the latest Southwest sale in your inbox or just looking to use Rapid Rewards points to book your next trip, use this guide to find and book the flights you want.

Read Next: Why You Should Care About Southwest…Even if You Never Fly Them

 

 

Step 1. Use the Low Fare Calendar to Find the Cheapest Dates

We always tell travelers booking travel to start their search on Google Flights. It's the best way to price shop and use the calendar feature to highlight the cheapest days to fly all in one place. But Southwest doesn't play nice with Google flights. While you'll see the flight schedules for Southwest, you won't see the fares or be able to click through to book directly with the airline.

Luckily, Southwest has a handy tool on its own site to help you zero in on the cheapest flights: the Low Fare Calendar.

While you can search and book flights through Southwest's mobile app, if you want to use the Low Fare Calendar feature, it's best to start your search on a desktop or laptop computer. Head to Southwest.com, and enter your home airport, destination, and desired travel dates, and whether you are looking for a roundtrip or one-way flight.

You can then hit the “Low Fare Calendar” button at the bottom of the search window…

 

Southwest SAN-LAS low fare calendar 

Or you can simply hit “Search” and select the green “Low Fare Calendar” button on the next screen.

 

Southwest SAN-LAS low fare calendar search

 

Either way, you'll see a calendar of the lowest prices for departing and returning flights on the next screen. To see a different month's worth of fares, use the options at the top of the screen to switch to another month.

 

Southwest Low Fare Calendar for San Diego to Las Vegas flights

 

The Low Fare Calendar works whether you want to use cash or Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Simply toggle over to “Points” in the upper right-hand corner to see the award rates.

 

Southwest Low Fare Calendar Rapid Rewards points

Select the best dates for your trip and click the “Continue to flight times” button at the bottom right of the screen.

 

Step 2: Search for Flights Using Cash or Rapid Rewards Points

On the next page, you'll see a list of every possible flight itinerary between your departure and arrival cities as well as all the fare classes, from Southwest's lowest “Wanna Get Away” fares to its most expensive “Business Select” seats.  You can even see in red how much inventory is left.

 

Southwest search results

 

Want to use Rapid Rewards points instead? Like the Low Fare Calendar, searching for award flights – those you can book with points – is just a click away, too. The toggle switch in the top right corner of the page instantly swaps the cash prices for points and vice versa.

 

Southwest rapid rewards toggle

 

Step 3: Filter to Find the Best Flights

You can use the filters at the top of the search results to narrow down the best flights for your trip. If you want to skip any fares with a layover, click “Nonstop” near the top of your screen, and only the direct flights will be shown.

 

Southwest nonstop

 

You can also filter by departure times.

 

Southwest SAN-LAS flight search

 

You can change your travel dates by up to two days in either direction on this page.  If you need to look further out than that, returning to the Low Fare Calendar (the green button) is the best way.

 

Southwest SAN-LAS flight search

 

Once you click on a fare, Southwest details everything you get with that fare and what you might want to upgrade for. Southwest also shows you upfront how many Rapid Rewards points you'll earn on that flight, too.

 

Southwest booking example

 

Once you've dialed in your desired itinerary, click through to the checkout page to book.

 

SAN LAS fare example

 

The checkout page looks similar whether you're booking with cash or Rapid Rewards points.

 

Rapid rewards fare

 

Southwest will always prompt you to buy a $20 EarlyBird Check-In, which means you'll get a better boarding number. Southwest is known (or loathed) for its open seating policy, which means you can't select nor will you be assigned a seat when you book. Instead, you'll get a boarding number once you check in 24 hours before your flight.

 

early bird check-in

 

If getting a certain seat on the flight is important to you, this $20 can be well worth it. You can add it with the touch of a button.

 

How to Redeem a Southwest Flight Credit or Voucher

Southwest has a generous cancelation policy that allows you to cancel a flight at nearly any point for free and receive a credit. For that reason, many Southwest flyers may have flight credits in their account to put towards a future flight.

If you have flight credits or gift cards with Southwest, you can redeem them on this page. Scroll down to the section that says “Apply Flight Credits, LUV Vouchers, and gift cards” below the trip extras.

For Southwest flight credits, you need the confirmation number of the previously canceled flight to apply the funds.

 

Apply credits and gift cards

 

If you don't have your confirmation number handy in your email, go to “My Account” at the top right of the home page.

 

My account Southwest

 

There, you can see your “Travel Funds Available” – the total amount of your flight credits. Click “View Details” to see the individual credits, including confirmation numbers.

 

Trip credits

 

Take the confirmation number, into the “Apply Flight Credits” section from above, and you'll see the amount of the credit taken off your fare.

Note: Flight credits for Wanna Get Away fares will only help you save on your own fare. That means, if you're booking for two people, the flight credit will only be deducted from the cost of your fare, not your fellow traveler's fare.

 

How to Find Out Where Southwest Flies

Before you start searching for flights, it might help to know where Southwest flies from your home airport. To get a list of destinations, head to Southwest.com and use Southwest's “Where we fly” feature on its home page, highlighted in red below.

 

Southwest where we fly

 

From there, you'll get a full map of all of Southwest's destinations, which can be helpful but won't narrow things down for you if you're based in one of these cities. Click “Visit route map” to find better results.

 

How to find the route map Southwest

 

From there, you get a map. On the right side, you can type in your home airport to see the destination offerings here, but this map isn't very clean or easy to use. The best solution is to click “View List” in the top right.

 

View List on Southwest route map

 

Once you get to the list page, the departure airports will be on the left and the arrivals will be on the right. Go to your departure airport, click on the city name, and then click the “Nonstop” button next to “Filter by” on the top row.

 

Route list on Southwest

 

And voila! You have a full list of the nonstop flights from your home airport. It's a good place to start your search, and you can even jump right into a flight search by clicking a destination, too.

 

Bottom Line

Booking Southwest flights with either cash or Rapid Rewards points is as easy as it gets.

While the quirky carrier doesn't cooperate with Google Flights, its own Low Fare Calendar makes finding the best fares extremely simple, and the booking process is seamless and transparent.

Plus, the booking process is exactly the same when using cash or Rapid Rewards points, even allowing you to toggle between the two during the search process.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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