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Wow: Southwest Fares Now Appear on Google Flights!

One of the few downsides of using Google Flights to find cheap airfare is that you won't see prices to book Southwest Airlines. You haven't been able to find those fares anywhere aside from directly Southwest.com, in fact.

Until now.

For the very first time, Southwest fare results began appearing in Google Flights searches on Wednesday morning – on all of the Dallas-based airline's routes worldwide. We're not yet seeing Southwest results on other search engines or online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, or Skyscanner. It remains to be seen whether Southwest fares will eventually expand into those platforms, too.


Southwest search results


Southwest confirmed the change Wednesday, calling it a pilot partnership. 

“We’re extending the reach of Southwest.com by giving users of Google Flights enhanced visibility into our available flights, fares, and the benefits of our products and services,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re excited to continue finding ways to expose more consumers to the appeal of our unique combination of value, friendly and flexible policies, and a breadth of flight service.” 

Southwest is leaving the door open to expanding into other sites like Expedia and Kayak, sticking just with Google Flights … or eventually pulling its fares from Google if the pilot doesn't pan out.

Regardless, this is a seismic change – one that addresses one of Google Flights few weaknesses for finding flight deals. And it’s arguably the biggest change in Southwest’s history.


Southwest plane


By design, Southwest hasn’t listed its fares from almost any flight search platform, from Google Flights to Expedia and Kayak and even smaller online travel agencies. The airline preferred to force customers to use Southwest.com every time, creating more customer loyalty while limiting the costs of distributing fares to those websites.

Previously, travelers searching for flights would only see Southwest route information – not the price, not a link to book directly with the airline, nor even display the airline's heart-shaped logo.

That changed on Wednesday. Here's what you'll see now – you can even compare and contrast fare types before continuing to book directly with the airline!


Southwest on Google Flights


That's a huge win for travelers, who can now compare Southwest flight prices directly with the other airlines without navigating away from Google Flights. Apparently, you can even set a Google Flights price alert to get an email when Southwest fares drop.

Google Flights Southwest


And that's not just for domestic flights. All of Southwest's fares for international itineraries are currently appearing, too. 


Baltimore to Cancun


Southwest had held out from listing its fares on other sites as travelers increasingly gravitated toward using those platforms to find flight deals. Teaming up with Google Flights will make it much easier for consumers to find and book Southwest fares – but that could have some major ramifications, too. 

  • Comparing Southwest's fares against budget airlines and even basic economy tickets from other major carriers isn't exactly apples to apples: Even the cheapest Southwest fares include two free checked bags and free change and cancellation … while other airlines may not even allow a free carry-on bag.
  • How will those competing airlines like American and Delta respond now that they suddenly have to compete with Southwest for customers' attention on these platforms? 

Still, this is a massive reversal for Southwest. Not long ago, the airline was fighting to prevent its pricing from showing up through Google. 

Just over a year ago, a creative browser extension that forced Southwest fare pricing into Google Flights cropped up. But it was short-lived: Southwest had it shut down in a matter of weeks.

This change comes just weeks after Southwest’s CEO hinted major changes were coming to the airline after some financial struggles.

“We've transformed before, adding things like Wi-Fi, wider bins, and in-seat power,” CEO Bob Jordan explained to investors. “Too early for specifics, but I want to be transparent that work is on its way.”

This is bigger than we could have imagined.


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