While organising a trip might be exciting, booking is frequently the most challenging step. Feeling overwhelmed with perplexing airline restrictions, added costs and difficult-to-navigate websites is simple. However, acting that way is unnecessary, especially if you fly Southwest Airlines.
Southwest has spent nearly 50 years perfecting the art of hassle-free air travel. Their customer-friendly policies, open seating, two free checked bags, and low fares make Southwest Airlines one of the most popular U.S. carriers today. Read on to learn how to navigate Southwest Airlines reservations and booking like a pro easily.
How to Book Southwest Airlines Flights and Make Reservations
Southwest gives travellers multiple options to make reservations and complete flight bookings:
Book Directly at Southwest.com
The most popular and recommended way to book Southwest Airlines is directly at their website. Southwest.com and the Southwest mobile app offer full booking capabilities without extra third-party fees.
When searching for flights on Southwest.com, check our Low Fare Calendar and regular booking engine to find the best deals. Input your origin and destination and select departure and return dates if booking a roundtrip fare. You’ll see a list of available flight times and can filter by price, stops, duration, and more. Select your preferred flight and continue through the booking process.
Southwest.com also makes it easy to add any extra services like EarlyBird checkout, WiFi, priority boarding, or car rentals to your itinerary.
Southwest Airlines Reservations by Phone
Call 1-800-548-3192, Southwest Airlines’ toll-free reservations number, to speak with a booking agent. Daily phone reservations are available from 7 AM to 8 PM local time.
When calling Southwest Reservations, have your desired travel dates, origin/destination airports, and total passenger names ready. Their agents can walk you through flight options, make a booking, and help with special requests like wheelchair assistance or pet travel.
One advantage of phone reservations is that Southwest agents can help you find and piece together separate reservations to create more complex itineraries like multi-city trips. Just be aware that you’ll pay a $25 fee per passenger for booking over the phone (for spanish language reservations click here).
Online Travel Agencies
Southwest Airlines flights can also be booked through major online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Orbitz, or Priceline. This option allows you to compare Southwest fares and schedules alongside other airlines in one place.
However, remember that you will pay extra booking fees purchasing through an OTA – usually around $7 per ticket. Any changes or cancellations must be handled directly with the travel agency, not Southwest if you book via a third party.
Tips for Getting the Best Deals on Southwest Flights
Finding cheap airfare on Southwest begins with knowing how and when to shop for deals:
- Book early – Southwest Airlines typically offers their lowest fares when they first open reservations about 6-8 months in advance. Sales often drop as the travel date gets closer.
- Be flexible – Fares are lowest for off-peak days and times like Tuesday afternoons or Saturdays. Compare multiple dates and nearby airports to get the best deal.
- Check the Low Fare Calendar – This tool on Southwest.com quickly highlights the cheapest travel dates with green boxes so you can pick the best time to fly.
- Sign up for email deals – Southwest will send subscribers exclusive coupon codes for flight discounts. You can also get early access to big sales.
- Consider a Southwest Airlines vacation package – Bundled deals with flights, hotels, and car rentals can offer additional savings compared to booking everything separately.
- Join the Southwest Rapid Rewards program – Members can earn points to redeem for free flights and qualify for discounts on partner brands. Rapid Rewards is free to join, and points don’t expire.
- Take advantage of Southwest sales – Watch for fare sales offering discounted rates to domestic and international destinations. Sales may be sitewide or focus on select routes.
- Use Southwest gift cards – Purchasing them when you find them on sale can score additional savings on future flights.
- Book on Tuesdays – Southwest frequently releases new low fares, so check for deals this weekday.
Buying Your Flight Ticket on Southwest Airlines
It’s time to buy your tickets after choosing the best flight dates and times when making a Southwest Airlines reservation. The following steps will let you purchase airfare on Southwest:
1. Choose your fares
Want to Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select fares are on the flight selection page. Want to Get Away is the cheapest and most restrictive. Anytime offers more flexibility for changes/cancellations. Business Select includes bonus points, free drink coupons, and priority boarding. Select the fare you prefer.
2. Pick any add-ons
Next, you can add any extra products and services for your flight like:
- EarlyBird Check-In – automatic check-in and boarding pass assignment
- Upgraded Boarding – priority boarding in the first 30 positions
- Inflight WiFi – stay connected with internet access for a fee
- Travel insurance – protects against unexpected trip changes
- Rental car – reserve a car rental alongside your flight
- Airport parking – Secure discounted airport parking if driving yourself
3. Enter passenger information
You must input each passenger’s full legal name, date of birth, and gender. This must match the government-issued ID they will use for travel. Include any loyalty program details to earn points.
4. Choose your seat
One of the final steps is to pick your seat number for flights with assigned seating. On Southwest, seats are open, and you’ll be given a boarding group/position later.
5. Make payment
Southwest gives multiple payment options, including all major credit/debit cards, PayPal, Southwest gift cards, and Travel Funds from canceled tickets. Double-check all details before confirming the purchase.
Once the ticket purchase is complete, you’ll receive a booking confirmation via email with your itinerary details, record locator number, and boarding pass if you have already checked in online. And remember, Southwest allows fee-free flight changes/cancellations if your plans require an update later.
Southwest Airlines Baggage Policies and Fees
One major perk of flying Southwest Airlines is getting two free checked bags (up to 50 lbs each) on every flight. This can save a family of four up to $240 in baggage fees each way!
You can also bring one small carry-on bag and a personal item like a purse or backpack at no charge. Just be sure bags meet Southwest’s size limits:
- Carry-on bag: 10 x 16 x 24 inches
- Personal item: 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches
If you need to check more than two bags or overweight baggage, additional fees apply:
- $75 for the third checked bag
- $75 for bags 51-100 lbs
- $150 for bags over 100 lbs
Pets, sports equipment, musical instruments, and specialty items also fly for a fee – check Southwest.com for details.
Pro tip: Pack as much as you can into your two free checked bags to avoid the steep fees for extras. And weigh your bags at home first to avoid surprises at the airport.
Southwest Airlines Boarding Process
Since Southwest Airlines does not assign seats, a numbered boarding position is given to each traveler during online check-in or at the gate. Passengers are boarded in groups starting with classes A1-A15 up through C1-C60.
There are several ways to get an early boarding position with Southwest:
- Purchase EarlyBird Check-In – For a fee starting at $15 each way per passenger, EarlyBird Check-In auto-assigns your boarding position 12 hours before the flight. It is an excellent option for families who want seats together.
- Get A-List or A-List Preferred tier status – Southwest’s free Rapid Rewards program offers early boarding perks to members who earn enough points through paid Southwest flights or partners.
- Pay for Upgraded Boarding – Upgraded Boarding, starting at $30-40 each way, secures a boarding group in the A1-A15 range, meaning you can board right after pre-boarding.
- Check-in right at 24 hours – Checking in online or at the airport kiosk precisely 24 hours before departure will give you the best boarding number available outside of paid upgrades.
Arrive at the gate early for the best seat selection if you didn’t purchase priority boarding. And remember, seats are first-come, first-served!
Booking Southwest Airlines Flights with a Disability or Medical Need
Southwest accommodates passengers with disabilities, medical needs, or mobility limitations. When booking your flight, you can request:
- Wheelchair or scooter assistance navigating the airport
- Priority boarding for passengers who need extra time
- Escort service for unaccompanied minors or adults with disabilities
- Deaf/hard of hearing aids like sign language interpretation
- Allergy-friendly buffer zones and advance notice of onboard peanuts
Remember to note any special services you require when booking your flight on Southwest.com or through a reservations agent. Arrive at the airport early – at least 90 minutes before departure is recommended for those with extra assistance needs.
Some critical tips for travelers with disabilities when flying Southwest:
- Allow extra connection time between flights in case you need to wait for wheelchair or golf cart transfers.
- Bring medical documentation if you need special accommodations, like traveling with your oxygen.
- Alert flight attendants to any severe allergies so they can prepare the cabin and crew.
- Carry your food in case of dietary restrictions – Southwest only offers peanuts and pretzels onboard.
- Pack medications and assistive devices like canes or hearing aids in your carry-on bag, not checked luggage.
Tips for Southwest Airlines Multi-City Bookings
Are you planning a long trip with multiple destinations? Booking individual one-way tickets on Southwest can get expensive. But Southwest does offer more budget-friendly options for complex itineraries:
- Book a roundtrip ticket with a stopover – Southwest allows one free stopover in each direction as part of a roundtrip booking. If adding a stop increases the total trip price, you’ll pay the fare difference.
- Price out reservations separately – A multi-city reservation on a single ticket doesn’t always guarantee the lowest fare on Southwest. Checking prices of individual one-way tickets can sometimes be cheaper.
- Call a reservations agent – Southwest booking agents can combine separate one-way fares and give you the best package deal for multi-leg trips. There’s a $25 agent assist fee, but it could yield savings.
- Drive to a closer airport – If your trip has you frequently backtracking to earlier cities, consider positioning your car or taking ground transportation to cut down on flights needed.
- Maximize layovers – When booking Southwest Airlines multi-city multiple one-ways, look for flights with extended layovers to give you extra time at a “stopover” city at no additional cost.
- Compare Southwest with budget carriers – If Southwest doesn’t have competitive fares on a particular route, check ultralow-cost carriers like Spirit or Frontier, which sometimes run deals.
What to Expect Onboard Your Southwest Flight
Once you’ve mastered the Southwest booking process, it’s time to sit back and relax onboard your flight. Here’s an overview of the Southwest inflight experience and amenities:
- Complimentary in-flight entertainment – Southwest offers free TV, movies, music, and messaging through its inflight WiFi portal. You can view content on your own devices.
- Complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic drinks – Southwest is beloved for their friendly flight attendants passing out free soda, water, coffee, tea, and snacks like peanuts or pretzels.
- Southwest Inflight magazine – Southwest’s Spirit magazine highlights destinations, Southwest news, celebrity interviews, and more. Print copies are in seatback pockets.
- Comfy leather seats – Southwest has comfortable leather seats with 32-33 inches of legroom in economy. First-class seats have 38 inches of space.
- Fleet-wide WiFi access – Stay connected inflight with Southwest’s satellite-based WiFi. Buy a day pass starting at $8.
- Inflight shopping – Forgot your headphones or phone charger? Southwest offers a selection of electronics, snacks, and travel supplies for purchase onboard.
Frequently Asked Questions About Southwest Airlines Reservations and Booking
Q1 How early should I book Southwest flights?
Aim to book Southwest Airlines booking 2-3 months in advance for the lowest fares. Southwest typically releases their flight schedule around six months before departure so you can shop for deals 180 days out.
Q2. Can I change my Southwest flight?
Yes, Southwest does allow free flight changes as long as you make them 10 minutes or more before the scheduled departure. You just pay any fare difference if switching to a more expensive flight.
Q3 Does Southwest Airlines charge for carry-on bags?
No, Southwest allows one free carry-on bag (plus a personal item) on all flights. Many other significant airlines now charge carry-on baggage fees, which makes Southwest an excellent choice for travelers who pack light.
Q4 What happens if I need to cancel my Southwest flight?
Southwest offers flexible cancellation policies. You can request a full refund to your original form of payment or retain the funds as flight credit to book future travel up to two years out. Just cancel 10 minutes before departure, or the ticket becomes non-refundable.
Q5 How can I book multi-city flights on Southwest?
For domestic multi-city trips, you can call Southwest Airlines reservations at 1-800-548-3192 and book each one-way flight separately at the best price. International multi-city fares can only be booked as roundtrip online or through a travel agent.
Q6 Does Southwest Airlines charge for seat assignments?
No, Southwest’s open seating policy means you can pick any seat once you board – no fees. You are assigned a boarding group/position during online check-in or at the gate, which determines when you’ll board. Options like EarlyBird Check-In let you access earlier boarding groups for a fee.
Q7 What kind of food and drinks does Southwest offer onboard?
Southwest offers all passengers free non-alcoholic drinks like soda, juice, coffee, and water. Snack options include peanuts, pretzels, or snack mix. You can purchase food onboard, like cheese and fruit plates, sandwiches, chips, and more. Southwest does not offer complimentary meals in an economy like some competitors do.
Q8 How strict is Southwest with its bag size limits?
Southwest is quite strict on enforcing their cabin baggage size limits. Use their free sizing boxes at airports if you think your carry-on could be questionable. Southwest’s staff will make you check oversized bags at the gate – which could result in fees if you already have two checked bags.
Q9 Can I bring alcohol in my carry-on bag on Southwest?
Southwest does not allow passengers to carry on or consume their alcoholic drinks onboard. Alcohol is only served on select routes and must be purchased directly from Southwest flight attendants once in the air.
Make Travel Stress-Free By Booking Southwest
With a few insider tips, Southwest Flight Booking can be simple and frustration-free. Southwest’s low fares, impressive route network, excellent customer service, and traveler-friendly policies have made them one of the most beloved U.S. airlines.
The next time you purchase airfare for a vacation, wedding, holiday trip, or business travel, check Southwest.com for deals and easy booking. Your wallet and sanity will thank you after an affordable, smooth flying experience with Southwest Airlines.
Booking air travel can be a headache, but flying Southwest Airlines makes the process smoother. Their customer-friendly policies on bags, seating, changes, cancellations, and fees create a transparent experience free of unpleasant surprises. Southwest’s extensive domestic route map provides travelers with incredible flexibility. Their low fares, frequent sales, and rewards program make Southwest a budget-savvy choice. With all the tools and tips in this guide, you can confidently book an affordable, stress-free trip anywhere Southwest flies. Enjoy the journey when you pass the friendly skies with Southwest Airlines.