Southwest Airlines Review: Should you fly with Southwest?

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Southwest Airlines Review: Should you fly with Southwest?
Planning your next trip and looking for the best flight deals? Then Southwest Airlines might be right for you. But don't book those flight tickets until you've read our in-depth review!
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Southwest Airlines is a well-known and reputable airline offering cheap airfare and a unique in-flight experience. But are they the right airline for your next trip? 

Explore this review to learn everything you need to know about Southwest Airlines and determine whether you should fly with them in the future.

Southwest airlines logo
Image Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

What is Southwest Airlines?

What we know today as Southwest Airlines started back in 1967 when it was incorporated as an intrastate airline called Air Southwest. The airline originally only served three airports in the state of Texas. 

Since then, Southwest Airlines has grown to become a major U.S. airline offering competitive, low-cost fares to over 100 domestic destinations and 10 countries.

Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Southwest Airlines flies to 42 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, and destinations in the Caribbean and Central America. Southwest Airlines exclusively operates Boeing 737 planes, and they are the largest operator of Boeing 737 planes worldwide.

Southwest Airlines does not currently fly to Europe, Asia, South America, or Africa. 

It's also important to note that Southwest does not serve these U.S. states: Alaska, Delaware, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. If looking to fly to or from any of these destinations, you will need to fly with another airline.

Southwest airlines flights
Photo by Lukas Souza on Unsplash

What are the different fares on Southwest Airlines?

All seats offered on Southwest flights are economy-class. That's right. No traditional business-class or first-class seats will be found on a Southwest flight. However, there are four different types of fares available to book with Southwest: Business Select®, Anytime, Wanna Get Away Plus™, and Wanna Get Away®. 

Regardless of the fare you book, all Southwest Airlines tickets include two free checked bags, no change fees, and no cancellation fees.

southwest airlines fares
Image Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Southwest Business Select

In addition to the above-listed perks of flying Southwest, booking a Business Select® fare unlocks additional benefits such as priority boarding, a complimentary premium beverage, 12x Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on qualifying flights, and more. This type of fare is often the most expensive out of the four fare categories.

Southwest Anytime

Booking an Anytime fare gets you access to EarlyBird Check-In, priority and Express Lanes, and 10x Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on qualifying flights.

Southwest Wanna Get Away Plus

Southwest Airlines offers another option just slightly above the base fare. This option is called Wanna Get Away Plus™, and offers slightly more perks than the Wanna Get Away® base fare. These include transferable flight credit, same-day standby list, and 8x Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on qualifying flights.

Southwest Wanna Get Away

The cheapest fare offered by Southwest is known as Wanna Get Away®, also known as the base fare. These fares are nonrefundable, but you will get 6x Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on qualifying flights. You also get the full suite of included perks like two free checked bags, no change fees, and no cancellation fees. This fare type is often the least expensive out of the fare categories offered by Southwest.

What is the Southwest Airlines Low Fare Calendar?

One of the most convenient features available through Southwest Airlines is the Southwest Airlines Low Fare Calendar. Budget travelers, solo travelers, and anyone looking for a good deal will love this tool. 

The Southwest Airlines Low Fare Calendar is a tool available on the airline's website that allows users to search for the cheapest airfare of the season or month they're looking to travel during. This helps narrow down which months are cheapest to fly to the destinations you might want to visit. 

The low fare calendar makes it simple and easy to find the cheapest departure and return fares with Southwest Airlines. It's also a fantastic way to inspire your wanderlust, and start planning an exciting trip to a new city!

southwest airlines low fare calendar

What are the cheapest days to fly Southwest?

While Southwest Airlines generally offers cheaper flights than competitors such as Delta, United, and American Airlines, the cheapest days to fly Southwest can be determined by reviewing the low fare calendar. Because each destination will have different fares based on seasonality and demand, it's best practice to use the low fare calendar often to check prices.

You won't find fares for Southwest Airlines flights listed on third-party sites like Google Flights because the airline has prevented third-party sites and apps from selling or listing fares. If you're searching for a cheap flight to a specific destination, remember to check Southwest's website and low fare calendar to find a great deal.

What is the in-flight experience like on a Southwest Airlines flight?

Flying with Southwest is a unique experience and much different than other airlines you might be familiar with. 

Unlike other airlines, there are no assigned seats on Southwest flights. Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy, and passengers are boarded based on their boarding or check-in number rather than seat number. Some consider this a benefit of flying Southwest, while others aren't too excited about the lack of an assigned seat. 

If you want to choose your exact seat and know that it's guaranteed, you might want to look at other airlines. Sometimes you might get lucky on a flight with fewer people, but it's best not to bank on this possibility if you have hesitations.

Is there food on a Southwest Airlines flight?

As mentioned above, Southwest Airlines offers inexpensive fares to many destinations around the U.S. and even a handful of other countries. 

It is important to note, however, that there are no in-flight meals on any Southwest flight. On some flights longer than 2 hours in duration there are complimentary snacks. On all flights there are complimentary beverages like coffee, juice, and water, as well as premium beverages available for purchase.

Southwest Airlines Checked Baggage

In addition to your two free checked bags, Southwest also allows passengers to carry-on one personal item and one bag no larger than 24" (L) x 16" (W) x 10" (H) for no extra charge. 

Southwest Airlines in-flight entertainment

Southwest flights also feature a variety of entertainment options, including movies, live and on-demand TV, texting through iMessage and WhatsApp, and music through iHeartRadio. These can all be accessed for free in the Southwest Airlines Inflight Entertainment Portal, which can be loaded on a personal device. Passengers can also purchase internet access for $8/day per device. 

There are no seatback screens. All entertainment must be accessed on a personal device. Make sure to charge your phone and tablet before your flight!

southwest airlines in-flight entertainment
Photo by Jack Harner on Unsplash

Is Southwest Airlines worth it?

Overall, yes it’s worth it to fly with Southwest Airlines! The airline provides incredible perks that budget travelers will adore including two free checked bags and low fares. Plus, Southwest flies to many major U.S. cities, making it a convenient way to travel cheaply between your favorite areas. 

With the handful of international options available, it is also an inexpensive way to explore outside of the U.S. and check more countries off your travel bucket list.

Unfortunately, there is no in-flight meal service and you don’t get to select your seat ahead of time. However, these are decent trade offs for such outstandingly priced fares and benefits! 

Check out Southwest as you’re planning your next trip to see if you can take advantage of all they have to offer.

Southwest flights
Photo by Fallon Michael on Unsplash

Our Rating: 4.2/5

Pros

  • 2 free checked bags 
  • Budget-friendly fares
  • Abundance of domestic and international destinations

Cons

  • Fares are not listed on Google Flights
  • No in-flight meal service
  • Open seating/no assigned seats

Start planning with Pilot!

If you've read this review and are still unsure whether Southwest Airlines is for you, explore these reviews about JetBlue and Avelo Airlines for alternative cheap flight options!

Now that you have your airfare sorted, it's time to start planning your trip with Pilot.

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Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

Sydney Brown Blog
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Sydney Brown
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