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Why Southwest Emails are a Must-Subscribe (Even if You Don’t Fly Them)

Sifting through the barrage of sales and special offers in your email inbox can be a painstaking chore. But when it comes to inexpensive travel, there's one airline email that all savvy travelers should join: Southwest Airlines. 

Southwest Airlines emails announcing their latest sales do two things: 

  1. The sales feature some incredibly cheap Southwest cash fares and Southwest Rapid Rewards fares
  2. More importantly, Southwest's sales put enormous pressure on the entire U.S. airline industry – forcing other airlines to drop their fares to compete, too

Even if you never want to fly Southwest Airlines, the airline's sales could easily trigger a huge drop in airfares on your favorite airline. We routinely see the likes of Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United slash fares to keep up with Southwest's sales – an email from Southwest could serve as an alert to double-check flights for your upcoming travel plans and score a better deal.

It's how you can book $77 roundtrip fares (or 3,800 Rapid Rewards points) to Chicago during the summer, $215 roundtrip fares (or 12,000 Rapid Rewards points) to Maui during peak season, or $57 roundtrip fares (or just 2,000 Rapid Rewards) within California. 

All of these fares were announced by a Southwest Airlines sale notice sent right to my inbox. Here are some examples of what these emails can do for you. 

Read next: How to Find and Book Southwest Flights



The Best Southwest Deals From Southwest Email Alerts

We have a mantra here at Thrifty Traveler: Airlines rarely advertise their best deals. But Southwest is an exception to that rule.

Southwest tends to run sales at least once a month: always for three days, and always running from Tuesday through Thursday night. And they always perk up our flight deal experts at Thrifty Traveler Premium: These emails always lead our team to start hunting for flight deals.

Just last week, Southwest announced a “Wanna Get Away” sale, teasing $39 one-way fares with this email. 


Southwest sale email


When Southwest names a sale – like this “Wanna Get Away” sale – it means it's good. Not all Southwest emails are created equal, however – more on that later….

So I scrolled down to see what Southwest had to offer me from my home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP). 


SW sale


Bingo: Flights to Chicago-Midway (MDW) for just $39 each way. 

So we started digging into the fares and lo and behold, this one was as good as advertised. So we rounded up all of the sub-$100 roundtrip fares to Chicago (including over Memorial Day, early June, and August fares) and sent our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers the lot of them in this alert.


Chicago deal


One of the best features of Southwest's sales? The airline's Rapid Rewards award rates are always tied to the cash rate … so when the airline slashes prices, you can book for fewer points, too. That meant you could book these same flights for as few as 3,600 Rapid Rewards roundtrip!




This doesn't just work for Chicago, though. We find that these Southwest sales can take us all over the continental U.S. – and sometimes even further! Southwest flies to Hawaii, too … and the airline often includes Hawaii fares in these awesome promos.


Hawaii flight deal


 These $215 roundtrip fares to Hawaii are a “run, don't walk” kind of flight booking moment. 


Hawaii low fare


We've also seen these sales lead to this impressive list of nonstop fares to Denver (DEN) under $100 roundtrip, too. 


DEN flight deal


And if you need a quick hop flight within the state of California, those fares can easily dip below $60 roundtrip!




All of these domestic flights were thanks to an advertised sale sent to our inboxes by Southwest. You might have to do a little digging to find the best fares, but if you want to fly within the U.S., these emails are a great tip. 

But for travelers with a passport, we can get you a stamp, too!


Mexico RRs


These nonstop fares to Mexico's finest beach towns were a huge boon for our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers. Single-digit roundtrip points fares to Mexico are ultra rare.


Why Southwest's Sales are So Good

Besides the exceptionally low fares, there are a few other reasons why Southwest's sales are so dang good – and easily worth an email subscription.

For one, Southwest's fares are 100% flexible. Long before other airlines nixed change fees, you've always been able to change any Southwest fare for free – or cancel for a voucher. Same goes for Southwest Rapid Rewards bookings, too.

Read next: Why We Love Southwest Airlines

I've made bookings during these sale periods that I ultimately cancel and then I use that e-credit on the next sale! In fact, I've had the same $100 in circulation at Southwest.com for a few months now!


southwest status


The other beautiful part about these Southwest sales is that you can easily rebook an existing flight and save even more if prices drop! I've long touted how much I love rebooking travel to save money. Southwest makes it easier than any other airline to do so.

Read next: How to Change Your Flight When the Price Drops

Let's say you booked a $150 roundtrip fare to Chicago for Memorial Day weekend. When this latest sale came around and those flights dropped to $77, you simply go into Southwest.com, “change” your flights to the exact same ones, and you get a credit for the difference – as a Southwest flight credit (which now never expire!) or in Rapid Rewards points. 


Don't Want to Fly Southwest? No Problem!

Southwest isn't for everyone. We know that.

Many travelers may not mind the open seating policy or the strange check-in and boarding number assignment rat race. But for some, picking a seat that has power outlets – and maybe even seatback entertainment – on a traditional U.S. carrier is a better experience.

I totally understand! But in many cases, Southwest's low fares make the other airlines compete on price so you can fly the airline you want to anyway. 


united seating policy


Let's use last week's sale as an example and all of those $77 roundtrip fares to Chicago. Southwest announced the sale Tuesday morning … and by Tuesday afternoon, many of the nonstop flights to Chicago on American, Delta, and United dropped under $100, too. 


Chicago fares competition


This screenshot was taken just after Southwest's sale had ended, so some of the prices had jumped back up above $100 roundtrip. But some of those $94 roundtrip fares lingered on for a few more days. 

None of the fares on that map are on Southwest, as Southwest doesn't list its fares Google Flights. But if you don't want to fly Southwest, this Southwest sale dropped the fares on the airline you wanted to fly, too. 

Our Thrifty Traveler Premium members benefit from this phenomenon all the time. For example, we put together a roundup of incredibly cheap fares to Denver (DEN) during peak ski season earlier this year thanks to a Southwest sale … but that deal included no Southwest fares. 


Denver flight deal


United, Southwest's biggest rival in Denver, was forced to slash many of its fares in and out of the Colorado hub in response to Southwest's sale. Alaska, American, and Delta had to do the same at their own hubs, too.

Never underestimate Southwest's power in the domestic airfare market. One email on a Tuesday morning can change everything in an instant!


How to Sign-Up for Southwest's Emails

If you're sold that these Southwest emails are for you, the good news is that signing up couldn't be easier. 

Just head to Southwest's email sign-up page and enter your information. 


SW email signup page


You can also enroll in these deal alerts via text message by texting “FLYDEALS” to 70139 or sign-up for push alert notifications if you already have the Southwest mobile app. 

The same alerts will come to your email, text, or app, no matter what. Just pick your preference and get started. 


Which Southwest Emails are Best? (Because Some are Junk)

Here's the downside of Southwest's emails: They're not all created equal. But there's an easy way to see if there's actual value or not. 

Unfortunately, like the other corporations in your inbox, Southwest does send some junk your way. Here's an example of a Southwest email with very little value. 


Southwest email example


This email advertises some “small fares,” but not any sale in particular. You can skip this one. 

Another annoying kind of email Southwest sends has a subject line reminding you to finish booking a fare. If you start a search on Southwest.com and don't complete it, the airline will send you an automated email that says something like, “Gunnar, finish booking your flight to Austin!” Those emails are also junk. 

Here's a rule of thumb for which Southwest emails really move the needle. Watch for an email with one of the following: 

  1. A sale with a name (i.e. “Wanna Get Away Sale” or “Spring Sale”)
  2. A promo code of some kind (i.e. “SPLASH” or “SUN”)

Those are the emails where the actual value lies. The rest should be in the express lane to your trash folder. 


Bottom Line

Southwest Airlines' email alerts can lead to massive savings – whether you want to fly Southwest or one of its competitors. 

In a world of increasingly annoying emails, Southwest's emails remain hugely important for U.S. travelers. With one sale and an ensuing email, the airline can dictate the entire airfare market with its flash sales. 


1 Responses

  • Great email Gunnar!
    I live in Clovis CA now, (but born and raised in MN for 59 years!) and my home airport is FAT. Southwest only flies to Vegas, Denver, and Dallas from FAT. Not too many choices, but Vegas can be fun, my daughter lives in Denver, and then there are the Cowboys?? 🙂
    I plan on signing up for Southwest emails to see some great deals and try to take advantage of them when I can.
    Keep up the great work!

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