8 Causes Southwest Is Nonetheless a Prime Airline – NerdWallet

Southwest Airways is a perennial favourite for commitment-phobes. Recognized for its versatile ticket coverage, Southwest doesn’t cost change charges — regardless that change charges on different airways can value north of $100 (generally even costing greater than the preliminary ticket you booked).

However this summer time, the three main U.S. airways — American Airways, Delta Air Strains and United Airways — dropped their change charges on many flights. But even now that Southwest is now not distinctive in its no-change-fee coverage, it nonetheless is distinct for oodles of different causes. And even in relation to the change coverage itself, the high quality print tucked into the Huge 3’s insurance policies have some fairly important caveats that you simply gained’t discover in Southwest’s stipulations.

Listed below are eight explanation why Southwest nonetheless stands out, plus a breakdown of why Southwest’s change coverage nonetheless reigns supreme.

1. Southwest’s change price coverage remains to be one of the best

For starters, Southwest’s change price coverage nonetheless beats out that of different main airways. Right here’s what it’s essential to learn about altering your ticket on Southwest:

  • The flexibility to make modifications on Southwest applies to all fare courses on all flights.

  • In case your new ticket is costlier, you’ll must pay the distinction.

  • In case your new ticket is cheaper, you obtain the distinction as a refund or as a journey credit score, relying on the fare class.

Right here’s how Southwest’s coverage compares to the brand new change insurance policies of American, Delta and United:

Do you get a refund for the distinction if altering to a less expensive flight?

What flights are excluded from the everlasting change coverage*?

Are tickets bought with factors/miles included within the change coverage?

Most worldwide flights, and primary economic system fares

  • Most worldwide flights, and primary economic system fares.

  • Flights booked with miles (except you may have Diamond or Platinum Medallion standing).

Sure (although some fare courses are refunded as a voucher)

Most worldwide flights, and primary economic system fares

Whereas most opponents exclude many worldwide flights and primary economic system fares, Southwest’s change coverage encompasses all fares. And if you wish to hop on a special, cheaper flight, it’s not simply allowed — you’ll even be compensated for the fare distinction.

Despite the fact that the insurance policies from the Huge 3 are a newfound win for purchasers, Southwest has all the time had one of the best change coverage — and that hasn’t modified.

2. If ticket costs drop, Southwest helps you to rebook for the cheaper price

You is perhaps tempted to delay reserving your subsequent flight in hopes that fares drop. With Southwest, there’s no want for such a scheme. If ticket costs drop after you’ve booked, you may get that cash again.

Should you booked in Southwest’s Enterprise Choose or Anytime fares (that are totally refundable), simply cancel your flight and rebook the identical — albeit now, cheaper — flight.

Should you booked a Wanna Get Away fare, tickets aren’t totally refundable, however they arrive fairly shut. You may nonetheless cancel and rebook, and also you’ll obtain the associated fee out of your canceled flight within the type of Journey Funds — Southwest’s model of a retailer credit score. These may be utilized to future journey for as much as 12 months. You may simply re-use that credit score on the brand new cheaper flight and pocket the financial savings in a Journey Fund for later use.

3. No hidden charges or nickel-and-diming

On the grim finish of nickel-and-diming, Spirit will cost you $10 to print your boarding go on the airport. Even the higher-end airways nonetheless tack on charges: Each Delta and American cost Most important Cabin flyers $30 to verify their first bag and $40 for the second on home flights. On Southwest, your first two checked luggage fly without cost.

After which take a look at the fare courses. The Huge 3 would possibly seduce you with ultra-low ticket costs, however there’s a very good probability these fares are for primary economic system. Primary economic system usually means charges for extras, like the flexibility to decide on your seat and even convey a carry-on bag. What’s extra, the Huge 3 all exclude primary economic system fares from their new no-change-fees coverage.

With Southwest, you’ll be able to e-book their least expensive fare class (referred to as Wanna Get Away) and nonetheless verify two luggage without cost whereas profiting from the flexibility to vary or cancel your flight (so long as you’re high quality getting the distinction in Journey Funds).

4. A singular boarding course of

Whether or not Southwest’s boarding course of is actually higher is a bit controversial, however there’s one factor most individuals can agree on: It’s unconventional.

Southwest doesn’t assign seats. As a substitute, everyone seems to be free to decide on the seat they’d like upon boarding. What’s assigned is boarding order: You may get a selected mixture of letter (A-C) and quantity (1-60+) that determines your house in line. Your Southwest boarding order project relies on if you verify in, which you are able to do on-line as much as 24 hours earlier than your flight. (Should you’re an A-Checklist member or bought EarlyBird Examine-In, you may robotically be assigned a boarding slot 36 hours earlier than the flight).

Regardless of occasional chaos on the gate as people discover their spot, it’s organized as soon as onboard. Say you’re keen on window seats, and the individual in row 9’s aisle seat is taking their candy time rummaging by their carry-on. No want to attend for them — simply seize the window seat in row 10. Should you like being the primary off the airplane, snag a seat close to the entrance. If you wish to scale back the percentages of somebody sitting subsequent to you, think about a seat close to the rear. The selection is yours.

Right here’s how Southwest’s upgraded boarding works:

If out there, Southwest might promote entry to assured boarding positions A1-A15 on the counter on the day of your flight for $30-$50, relying on the flight. Simply buy an upgraded boarding from the ticket counter or gate and cost it to your Southwest Fast Rewards® Precedence Credit score Card, and also you’ll obtain a press release credit score inside eight weeks. You too can get a assured boarding place of A1-A15 by buying a Enterprise Choose fare.

5. The Companion Cross: An unmatched perk

Should you’re a frequent flyer and like the thought of touring with a good friend, then Southwest gives a profit you’d be hard-pressed to search out elsewhere: The Companion Pass.

Southwest’s Companion Cross lets an individual of your alternative fly for (nearly) free for the remainder of the 12 months through which you earn the go, in addition to the next 12 months.

When you have a Companion Cross and buy a fare in money or factors for your self, you’ll be given the choice to e-book a seat for them too. All you pay is the taxes and charges. Plus, when you can’t determine on only one BFF, the choice on who to select is just not as immutable as you would possibly assume. You may change your designated companion as much as thrice a 12 months.

The best way to earn a Southwest Companion Cross

You may’t purchase a Southwest Companion Cross; you must earn it. To obtain one, you must both earn 125,000 qualifying factors or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar 12 months. Until you’re flying Southwest about twice per week, the latter may be powerful to realize.

Likewise, you’ll be able to earn the factors by flying an entire lot. Or you may get a giant level increase when you’re permitted for a Southwest credit card. At present, Southwest is providing new prospects of its bank cards some good welcome bonuses that may get you effectively in your method to Companion Cross standing.

As for incomes the remaining factors, different means embody swiping your Southwest bank card, procuring or eating with Southwest’s on-line retailers or restaurant companions, or by reserving a lodge or renting a automotive by one in all Southwest’s journey companions.

6. Free leisure onboard

Obtain the Southwest app and also you’ll have entry to free films and on-demand content material onboard. Even with out the app, you’ll have leisure together with free messaging by iMessage and WhatsApp, free dwell TV and free music.

7. Center seats blocked + new COVID-19 security measures

Southwest has had an particularly consumer-friendly response since COVID-19 disrupted journey. The airline ranked extremely in our personal evaluation of which airlines have handled COVID-19 the best, due largely to its always-flexible change coverage.

However Southwest additionally shortly instituted new insurance policies, together with a strict masks requirement and new procedures to wash tray tables earlier than each flight. Plus, Southwest is briefly chopping again on promoting flights to capability, as an alternative capping the variety of tickets bought per flight to depart center seats open by Nov. 30, 2020.

8. Southwest remains to be extra inexpensive

All that, and Southwest nonetheless tends to be cheaper than the Huge 3 airways.

We checked out greater than 100 airfares for flights between greater than a dozen main U.S. airports, throughout a variety of reserving durations (about two weeks out, six months out and for journey throughout the holidays).

We discovered that Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares have been, on common, cheaper than principal cabin airfares on American, Delta and United in each state of affairs besides one: American Airways Most important Cabin seats have been about 1.5% cheaper than Southwest fares throughout the vacation season.

American Airways nonetheless got here out simply 0.06% costlier than Southwest total, however Southwest was 10% cheaper than United and an much more hanging 26% cheaper than Delta.

The underside line

For vacationers who worth flexibility to vary their flights, flying with Southwest had been a no brainer given its beneficiant change coverage. However now that the Huge 3 have joined the ranks of airways that now not cost change charges on a lot of their flights, it raised the query of whether or not Southwest may stand out as a superior airline.

Seems, it’s not troublesome to justify. From boarding procedures to free checked luggage to a change price coverage that’s nonetheless higher than what you’ll discover among the many competitors, the explanations to like Southwest have been — and proceed to be — plentiful.

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