I appreciate the ease of changing or canceling flights without incurring fees, and I occasionally make use of the complimentary drink vouchers.
We benefit from living close to Baltimore Washington International (BWI), a significant Southwest hub because we can book flights for a reasonable price. But we’re constantly trying to save more money.
The obvious advice, such as joining Rapid Rewards (duh), getting a Southwest credit card to accrue points (double duh), or getting bumped for vouchers (honestly who likes doing this?) is there, but it is dull.
Sign up For Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining is the simplest way to gain RR points, so I’m a fool for not signing up sooner. You ought to join if you haven’t already. It’s the kind of thing you set and forget.
They occasionally provide bonuses as too; for a brief while, paying $25 in the first 30 days would earn you 750 points.
Rapid Rewards for Southwest Dining at specific restaurants, of which there are many, awards you points. We discovered a neighborhood bar with just one location that we frequent frequently since the kids enjoy it. When we eat there, we receive 3 points for every dollar spent; all we need to do is use the card we registered. You receive 10 points for each review you write if that’s your thing.
You register a card when you sign up (you may register a maximum of 5 cards), and each time it detects a charge to a participating restaurant, you receive points. That’s it, simple points you can set and forget.
Understand the Boarding Procedure
This is a small money-saving technique, but it will increase your satisfaction with Southwest.
Southwest has a distinctive boarding procedure. Although there are no assigned seats, there are three groups you can board in: A, B, and C. Each has a capacity of 1 to 60 people, with the first 15 spaces on A reserved for Business Select travelers. Based on the time you check in, Southwest will assign you a boarding position. Within 24 hours of your flight time, you can check-in.
Even if you check in right away, you can still receive a later letter because some passengers use automatic check-in, you might be connecting, or your flight is extremely busy. Family boarding is also offered between groups A and B.
If you score higher than B30, you typically have a chance at an aisle or window seat. You are forced to sit in the middle after you enter the later B and C rows. Position on the plane matters!
The secret to boarding early is to check in as soon as it opens, or 24 hours before takeoff. On cross-country flights, I sometimes purchase the Early Bird Check-in for $15–25 per way, but it’s typically not necessary. Although boarding is not guaranteed, you will typically obtain a good spot if you check in early.
Big Groups: Early Bird? Divvy up The Itinerary
Booking multiple people on the same itinerary will increase the cost of Early Bird. For Early Bird, everyone on the schedule will be required to pay.
As an alternative, our friend Seth (@ASImhoff919) suggests: https://twitter.com/ASImhoff919/status/1034414571321286656
However, Early Bird might not be worthwhile if you’re making a reservation for a family. You can board during the Family Boarding phase between the A and B groups if you’re traveling with a child who is six years old or less. Without Early Bird, you may typically locate comfortable seats close to one another.
Change Your Electricity Providers to Energy Plus
The Northeast has access to Energy Plus, an electric provider with a rewards program. They occasionally conduct promotions in which you receive Rapid Rewards points for both joining up and paying your electricity bill (2 points per dollar, 3 points if you have a card). Currently, they are offering 5,000 Rapid Rewards points for signing up, plus an additional 2,500 points if you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards card. There are no additional costs or contracts, either. Valid for citizens of PA, OH, IL, MA, MD, NJ, or MD.
Here is a link to the Energy Plus partner page on the Southwest website for further details.
Discounts for Military Flights
Military fares that can be 10-15% less expensive than the advertised rates are available to those who are currently serving in the armed forces. However, you can’t book these online; you’ll need to contact 1-800-I-FLY-SWA and present your identification.
Depending on the flight, it might not always be the cheapest, so look up airfares online before calling to inquire about the military rate.
Examine the Promotions Page.
When there is a promotion, Southwest may occasionally email you; other times, they may not. Although I don’t understand the pattern or logic, you may always check the current promotions by going to their Promotions page.
Unfortunately, I was already a member when I just visited there and noticed the 1,000 points for spending $25 within the first 30 days for Southwest Dining.
Check the Cost of Your Flight Again During a Sale
Southwest frequently has deals, generally on Tuesdays, and there are no additional fees for flight changes or cancellations. NOTHING FOR CHANGES. So, don’t wait to make a reservation until a sale is advertised; make it now and check to price later on. You receive a credit for the difference if the price decreases.
Go to “modify reservation” in your account to accomplish this. Rebook your flight’s legs to see if the pricing in the summary changes after you do so. I just found out that a direct ticket, which had previously been unavailable, was suddenly available and saved $138 on a flight to Las Vegas. So I avoided spending $138 and two hours on the road. You receive a credit for the remaining “non-refundable” fare that is valid for a year.