Last Updated on March 18, 2023
Southwest Airlines is known for its cheap flights and airline rewards but is it a good airline for travel? In this post, we’ll list 15 things you should know about Southwest Airlines- the Pros and Cons.
I love going on trips and Southwest is a popular choice when flying. They have one of the best flight rewards programs and cheap flights, as I mentioned. But there are a few drawbacks and things that you should know.
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So is Southwest a good airline? Here are 15 Things to know about Southwest Airlines:
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Is Southwest A Good Airline?
Table of Contents
No Change Fees Or Cancellation Fees On Their Tickets
Option To Re-Book For Credit If The Price Of The Flight Goes Down
Check 2 Bags And A Carry-On For Free
Easy, Open Seating- No Assigned Seating
No First-Class Or In-Flight Meals
Often Have To Take Connecting Flights
Don’t Know Where You Are Going To Sit
Flight Delays & Canceled Flights
Photo Credit: Canva
Is Southwest A Good Airline? Pros
1. Great Deals On Flights
Traveling can be expensive! However, out of the major carriers, Southwest Airlines is the largest low-cost carrier and has relatively cheap flights.
They’re always having sales and promotions going on throughout the year.
Southwest offers free in-flight entertainment so you can watch movies or television shows on your smart device while traveling between cities.
You’ll love their affordable fares that won’t break the bank!
2. No Change Fees On Their Tickets
There are many benefits to flying Southwest, on top of the deals on flights.
They have no change fees on all of their tickets. This is great if something comes up and you need to re-book your flight! Also, considering the current economy, having the option to change plans is ideal.
Many of the other major carriers do not offer this and if they do allow ticket changes, there are often limits depending on which class you book. With most airlines, ticket holders will have to pay to change flights.
With Southwest, you can change as many times as you want. You just have to pay the difference in fare if it’s greater.
3. Re-book For Credit If Flight Price Goes Down
Another nice thing about Southwest is that if you book a flight and the rate for that flight goes down, you can call them and re-book to get a credit in your account for the difference. There is no limit on how many times you can do this!
I keep a close eye on the rates to ensure I’m getting the cheapest flights possible.
This is what I did when I booked a trip during the pandemic. A month after I booked my flight, the price of the tickets went down $75 dollars so I was able to re-book the same flight and you guessed it…credit into my account!
It’s nice knowing that you can just book and not worry about whether you should wait for the price to go down.
Southwest is a great option for travel with these perks.
4. Bring A Carry- On And Check 2 Bags For Free
This is one of the biggest benefits of flying Southwest.
Checking extra bags and having add-ons can definitely make traveling more expensive. Do not overpay for your luggage while traveling!
While most other airlines will charge you for bags and extras, Southwest is the only major airline that allows a person to check 2 bags for free.
You can also bring a carry-on for no cost, which saves you time, money, and hassle when traveling!
5. Rapid Rewards Program
Along with their awesome flight deals, I love the Southwest Rapid Rewards program and take advantage of the rewards as much as I can.
I use my credit card for as many purchases as possible and collect all the points to use on flights.
Once you’re enrolled in the Rapid Rewards program, there are always promotions going on. Companion Pass, A-list offers, deals on points, and upgrades, are just some of the deals.
One thing I love about the Priority card is you can get Upgraded Boarding and upgrade your seat on a flight on the day of travel (if seating is available) and you can do this 4 times a year!
I just did this in July 2022 and it moved me up from a later boarding group to A2, meaning I was one of the first few people on the plane.
You just pay a $40 charge at the time of purchase and your charge will be refunded. In most cases, this just takes a day or two.
The yearly fee for the basic Rapid Rewards card is $69 and $149 for the Priority card, which has even more perks.
They also have a Premier card, which is the middle tier, if you don’t want to go all-in with Priority. All are well worth it.
For more info on Southwest Credit Cards, go here.
6. Open Seating- No Assigned Seating
Instead of assigned seats, you’re assigned a boarding group. When it’s your turn to get on the plane, you can pick any empty seat to sit in.
If you don’t mind possibly sitting in the back of the plane or taking a middle seat, then this is a good option and you can save some money.
You just check in 24 hours before the flight for the best seat option.
7. Early-Bird Check-In Option
If you want to pay a little more to be in the A boarding group to get on the plane sooner, then Early-Bird check-in is the way to go.
This option eliminates the hassle of checking in because the airline will do it automatically.
You just pay $25 per flight and since you’re one of the first ones on the plane, you’ll be able to have your pick of the better seats.
I always book Early-Bird when I travel and am usually able to pick a nice window seat between the front section of the plane and the wing. I’ve even got a front row seat a few times!
8. Excellent Customer Service
Overall, Southwest has outstanding customer service and they’re always helpful when I’m making changes to my reservation or booking flights.
Their staff on the plane has always been professional and helpful in my experience, also.
9. Southwest Is A Safe Airline
Southwest Airlines offers the safest flights in the industry because of its strict flight protocols and procedures.
They are a favorite among travelers looking for cheap flights without having to compromise on comfort or security.
According to the most recent list of the world’s safest airlines, Southwest was ranked in the top 15 airlines in the world in 2021, even beating out Delta, American, and United.
Are you a nervous flyer? Check out these 12 tips to overcome your fear of flying!
Is Southwest A Good Airline? Cons
10. No First-Class Or Meals
For those who like flying first class and getting a meal on your flight, Southwest does not do this.
You can get a great seat if you get Business Class, but you’re not guaranteed to sit in the front row.
Although Southwest doesn’t serve meals on their flights, they do provide snacks and water on flights over 250 miles. They are also back to serving other beverages or alcohol on their flights.
11. Often Have To Take Connecting Flights
One downfall I’ve experienced with flying Southwest is that since I live in Minnesota, there oftentimes aren’t direct flights to the destinations I’m traveling.
For example, if I’m traveling to Tampa, I usually have to take a connecting flight.
I was looking at flights to the Atlantic Coast in June and July of 2022 and there were no direct flights during this time so I had to book a connecting flight.
This isn’t convenient and it makes it a long day of traveling, but their low rates on flights oftentimes make up the difference.
I’m also able to use this as a way to break up the day of traveling a little bit.
12. You Don’t Know Where You Are Going To Sit
For some travelers, it’s a problem if they don’t have pre-assigned seating.
It creates extra stress for some that worry if they’ll be able to sit by their group or family.
I’ve also run across people that save seats or rows for friends or family that come onto the plane much later, which can be frustrating.
13. They Don’t Operate Many International Flights
Southwest Airlines doesn’t operate much for international flights besides Mexico and the Caribbean. They only fly to 11 countries.
You can use your points on flights to these locations, however.
14. Flight Delays & Canceled Flights
As with many of the major airlines struggling with canceled flights and flight delays in 2022, Southwest is unfortunately near the top of this list, and not in a good way.
According to this article from Cleveland.com that looked at flight information given to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics- from December 2020 to December 2021, Southwest had an on-time (to destination) percentage of just 79%.
In fact, Southwest was tied with Frontier Airlines and only beat out Jet Blue Airlines and Allegiant Air. Delta, for example, had an on-time percentage of 88%.
It’s worth noting that it was considered a flight delay if the plane arrived to the destination 15 minutes late (or longer) than its scheduled time.
Photo Credit- Simple Flying
To make matters worse, December 2022 was a bad month for Southwest as delays and cancellations interrupted the holiday plans of thousands of travelers.
In fact, Southwest was responsible for half of the canceled flights worldwide, the day after Christmas.
The CEO has promised to provide reimbursements to many affected customers and has pledged to be better going forward, but we’ll see if they can make long term improvements moving forward.
Although they have been known to change their flight schedule after I’ve booked my flight, I haven’t had many other issues with Southwest flights and they remain one of my favorites for flying.
15. Costs Of WiFi Have Increased
Now, I don’t want to gloss over the fact that Southwest does offer a nice amount of inflight entertainment and that’s great.
They offer free movies, free live tv, free tv series, and free texting for your flight. But they also just made a major change to their WiFi program, which will affect a lot of passengers.
Southwest was offering $8 for Inflight Internet for the day but as of February 21, 2023, you won’t be able to get internet for the full day. You have to pay $8 for each flight you get on.
So if you are taking a flight with a connection(s), you will be paying $8 every time you step on the plane. And as I mentioned earlier, it can be hard to find direct flights on Southwest, depending on where you are traveling from.
Looks like Southwest may be trying to recoup some of the costs from their disastrous holiday season?
Final Thoughts: Is Southwest A Good Airline?
Although there are a few disadvantages, Southwest Airlines is a great option for cheap flights and traveling, overall. I’ve also used their deals on vacations and rental cars and they are worth checking out!
For more tips on saving money while traveling, check out these tips for traveling cheap!
Ready to book your next flight? Take a look at the best flight prices here.
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I would like to know if connecting flights require passengers to pick up their luggage and transfer them to the next flight and recheck in, or does your luggage go straight through to your destination?
Priscilla, Southwest will transfer your luggage to your final destination!
Straight to your destination with no hassle. I always enjoy the great customer service when I fly with Southwest Airlines.
Southwest is kind of a hidden gem. They don’t list their flights on the aggregators (kayak, expedia, etc,…) so lots of times people don’t know to look on the Southwest site directly! I love that they include checked bags, and for us skiers, that includes a ski bag and boot bag which is a WIN! So good that you posted about the pros and cons for others to enjoy!!!
I love Southwest and I think this is a very interesting list of pros and cons about the airline.
It certainly sounds like Southwest is a good option for short budget flights within the states!