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It’s fairly widely known that Southwest Airlines has one of the best cancellation/change policies out there. In the past year or so, there have been some changes that you should be aware of if you want to keep your Southwest ticket refundable.
Most other airlines charge large fees in addition to any difference in airfare when changing a ticket. With Southwest though, that isn’t the case. Dan has written in depth about the policy and how to take advantage of it here. I highly recommend taking a peak at that post if you aren’t already familiar with the basics of the policy.
Types of Southwest Fares
There are four types of fares that you can book with southwest. All fares include two checked bags, no change fee, and are eligible for reusable funds.
Reusable Funds vs. Refundable
The difference between reusable funds and refundable can be a little confusing. Reusable funds means that if you cancel your ticket or change it to a cheaper flight, you can get the balance back in the form of a travel credit. The travel credit can then be applied to travel for the next 12 months. Refundable fares credit the amount back to the original form of payment. Business Select, Anytime, and flights booked with points are all fully refundable when initially booked.
Cancel vs. Change Ticket
Southwest updated their booking system in early 2017. After the change, refundable fares are handled differently if they are changed. Now, if a refundable fare is changed, it becomes non refundable. It will still be reusable funds eligible but you won’t get your money back if you need to cancel after the change. With points bookings, your points will always redeposit into your account but the security fee becomes non refundable.
How to Keep Your Southwest Ticket Refundable
If you want to keep your Southwest ticket refundable, cancel and rebook instead of changing your ticket.
The only disadvantage of cancelling and rebooking is if you have paid the $15 fee for EarlyBird check-in. When canceling a ticket that you’ve already paid the fee on, you lose the money. If you rebook, you will have to pay it again on your next ticket. When there is a chance you might need to change or cancel your ticket, you may consider waiting to add EarlyBird.
In the End…
Southwest still has the most generous cancellation/change policy that I’ve run across. While it can be a pain to work around the new system, it’s totally worth the extra time to keep your Southwest ticket refundable.
Have you ever used the Southwest cancellation policy? How did it go for you? Let us know in the comments!