Southwest Wanna Get Away Fare Complete Guide: (Cancellation & Refunds) [2020]

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Southwest Wanna Get Away fares are some of the most popular types of airline tickets and I have been flying them for a long time.

The main reason I love them is that the prices for these type of tickets can be extremely cheap — sometimes under $40! They also have customer-friendly change rules and a generous baggage policy. 

However, there are some important considerations that you want to know about before purchasing a Wanna Get Away fare like what the cancellation/refund policy is and how cheap the fares can be. In this comprehensive article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Wanna Get Away fares!


What is a Southwest Wanna Get Away ticket?

Southwest Wanna Get Away tickets are the cheapest type of tickets that you can purchase with Southwest.

These cheaper fares are great to save you money (especially during flash sales) but they have the least flexible cancellation policy out of any of the other type of Southwest ticket.

Basically, these are nonrefundable tickets although there are ways to still make changes and cancellations and get your money back in the form of credits.

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Southwest fare types

Before jumping too deep into Wanna Get Away fares, a quick review of the different types of Southwest fare types will be helpful. Here are the different type of Southwest fares that you can book:

  • Business Select
  • Anytime
  • Wanna Get Away 
  • Senior fares

Business Select and Anytime fares are different than Wanna Get Away fares because you can receive a full cash refund when you cancel your ticket. However, both of these ticket types are usually much more expensive than Wanna Get Away fares. 

Business Select also comes with some additional perks:

  • Guaranteed A1-A15 boarding
  • Fly By lane access
  • Free premium drink
  • 12 Rapid Rewards per dollar spent
  • Fully refundable fare
  • Standby

You can read more about the Business Select perks here

While Business Select and Anytime fares are much more expensive they also allow you to earn more Rapid Rewards with your ticket purchase. 

Typically, you will earn Southwest Rapid Rewards at the following rates

  • 6X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 10X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 12X per dollar for Business Select 

Once you have taken enough flights for earned enough Rapid Rewards, You can earn A-list, which will allow you to earn even more Rapid Rewards. Here are the earning rates for A-List. 

  • 7.5X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 12.5X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 15X per dollar for Business Select

And here are the rates for A-List Preferred

  • 12X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 20X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 24X per dollar for Business Select

You can read more about here you can read more about Southwest A-List here.


Wanna Get Away pricing 

Wanna Get Away fares can be very cheap, but they are not always the cheapest. Take a look at some of the examples below where I compare Southwest Airlines to the cheapest legacy carrier for that route. 

I priced a nonstop roundtrip from Houston to Los Angeles and here were the prices:

  • Southwest Airlines: $204
  • American Airlines: $148

That is a pretty big price difference. 

I tested another sample booking from Houston to New York and here are the prices: 

  • Southwest Airlines: $227
  • Delta Airlines: $227

So in this case it was a tie with Delta. 

I tested another sample booking from Houston to Fort Lauderdale and here are the prices: 

  • Southwest Airlines: $221
  • United Airlines: $237

So the sample bookings just go to show that Wanna Get Away fares sometimes might be the same, cheaper, or even more expensive when compared to legacy carriers.

But baggage fees are something to consider when evaluating the price of a ticket with Southwest. Checking a bag on a roundtrip will often cost you $60 and so Southwest will save you that much simply by choosing to fly with them. So don’t forget to factor in the baggage fee savings when flying Southwest! 

If we factored in $60 baggage fees into the prices above they would look like this: 

Houston to Los Angeles:

  • Southwest Airlines: $204
  • American Airlines: $208

Houston to New York:

  • Southwest Airlines: $227
  • Delta Airlines: $287

Houston to Fort Lauderdale:

  • Southwest Airlines: $221
  • United Airlines: $297

So clearly Southwest would be much cheaper and that is only considering checking in one bag. 

And then we can look at what would happen if we had to change our flight. Take a look at how the prices would differ with the airline change fees factored in. 

Houston to Los Angeles:

  • Southwest Airlines: $204
  • American Airlines: $408

Houston to New York:

  • Southwest Airlines: $227
  • Delta Airlines: $487

Houston to Fort Lauderdale:

  • Southwest Airlines: $221
  • United Airlines: $497

Those are now very dramatic price differences and it just goes to show you how Southwest can end up saving you more money in some cases. 

Special flash deals

Sometimes you can catch special flash deals where one-way fares can be very cheap, like between $39 to $69. 

These flash sales can offer a tremendous amount of value but typically they do come with certain types of limitations or restrictions which require you to purchase tickets on specific dates for specific routes.

The routes for the super cheap flights often are very short like flying from Los Angeles to Sacramento, but sometimes you will be surprised by cheaper longer routes, which usually cap at around $129. 

Here are some examples of the flash deals via Thrillist

Sacramento to San Diego (and vice versa) for $49

San Francisco to Las Vegas (and vice versa) for $51

Los Angeles to Las Vegas (and vice versa) for $61

Milwaukee to Nashville (and vice versa) for $62

Providence to Washington, DC (and vice versa) for $62

Atlanta to Boston (and vice versa) for $72

Fort Lauderdale to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands for $71

Portland to Los Angeles (and vice versa) for $72

Fort Lauderdale to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos for $74

Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, Bahamas for $77

Sometimes the applicable dates are not very ideal like requiring you to travel on a Tuesday or Wednesday. But if the timing is right for you these flash deals can be a steal. You can still find deals on the weekend, they will just usually be a little bit more expensive.   

You can also search for low fares with this calendar. 

Last minute flights

One thing to watch out for is that Wanna Get Away fares can actually be very pricey if purchased last minute. Many times you will find $100+ cheaper rates with other legacy carriers like United or Delta when looking to purchase last-minute flights. 

For example, I looked at booking a flight one week out from Houston to Los Angeles in December. American Airlines was charging $175 for the round-trip while Southwest was charging $275. So just be mindful of that.


Wanna Get Away changes and cancellations

As mentioned above as mentioned above, Wanna Get Away fares are not refundable. Thus, you should only book them when you are highly confident of your travel dates and times.

The good news is that Southwest has a very generous change policy. Basically, you can change your flights for free as long as you make those changes one hour prior to departure. This is great whenever the price of your airfare drops because you can simply change your flight and get a credit for the difference, whether you booked with cash or points.

If you miss the change deadline you’ll need to cancel your flight.

If you cancel your Wanna Get Away fare you won’t receive a refund but you can get a credit (travel funds) applied toward future travel on Southwest Airlines for the originally ticketed passenger only. This means that you can’t cancel and then do a name change and expect to use those travel funds for the new passengers.

However, there is a way to convert your travel funds into something called a LUV Voucher, which can be used for others. That method does require you to pay a fee but you can read more about that here

10 minutes prior to departure

You also need to make sure that you cancel your ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure. If you fail to do this then you will lose ALL of your funds.

The terms and conditions state:

Customers who fail to cancel reservations for a Wanna Get Away fare segment at least ten (10) minutes prior to travel and who do not board the flight will be considered a no show, and all remaining unused Wanna Get Away funds will be forfeited

However, if you made a points booking and you failed to cancel, then the points will be redeposited to the purchaser’s Rapid Rewards account.

You can read more about the Southwest cancellation and change policy here.

24 hour exception

If you call or cancel online at Southwest.com within 24 hours of booking, Southwest will offer you the option of refunding the airfare back to the original form of payment, or retaining the credit to be used toward future travel.

This actually a requirement from the Department of Transportation’s consumer rule “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” (14 CFR 259.5(b)(4), which requires carriers to hold a reservation at the quoted fare for 24 hours without payment or allow a reservation to be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty.


Wanna Get Away baggage policy

In case you did not know, Southwest allows you to check two bags in for free. They are one of the only airlines that has such a generous baggage policy and it applies even whenever you book a cheap Wanna Get Away fare.


Wanna Get Away boarding

Purchasing a Wanna Get Away fare does not really affect your boarding position. While you won’t to be issued one of the Business Select boarding positions, Southwest has a unique boarding policy that allows you to choose your own seat when boarding. 

Check-in opens at 24 hours prior to take off and once you check in you are given a boarding position. That boarding position will determine when you enter the plane and you simply find an open seat when you enter the aircraft — there are no assigned seats. 

If you are worried about not checking in on time and securing a high boarding position, then what you can do is purchase something called Southwest Earlybird. That will automatically check you in 36 hours prior to departure which typically allows you a good boarding position in a high A group or a lower B group.


Upgrading Wanna Get Away fares

You might be wondering if it is possible to upgrade whenever you purchase a Wanna Get Away fare. The answer to this question is yes and this is something that we have done quite often.

When flying Southwest you can choose to upgrade to Business Select at the time of arrival at the airport. It’s not always available but for leisure routes it usually is available.

The main reason for doing this is that you are able to board in one of the first positions and therefore you can secure a better seat on the plane (perhaps with extra leg room). We like to choose the seats with extra leg room for growth with only two seats so we utilize this type of upgrading a lot.

The price for the upgrade will vary but you won’t generally be looking at anywhere from $30-$50 per segment. Whether or not that is worth it will just depend on your preference for a better seat. 


Can you standby?

Although it is not an officially published benefit it is possible to get standby sometimes even whenever you have purchased a Wanna Get Away fare for some flights. You will need to inquire with an agent at the gate or at check-in in order to see about the possibilities for this.


Wanna Get Away + Companion Pass

You might also want to look into getting the Southwest Companion Pass. This pass will allow someone to fly for free with you for up to two calendar years. It’s a pretty phenomenal deal and whenever you constantly fly on cheap Wanna Get Away fares, you can see a lot of the country without breaking your wallet. 


Final word

Overall, Wanna Get Away fares are great for allowing you to save money, especially when you can spot a good deal. The key is to be aware of the change in cancellation policies that apply to your ticket. If you are very sure of your travel dates then the cancellation policy should not be much of an issue but if you ever need to change your travel dates remember that you can still get a credit for the changes if there is a change in price. 

Cover photo by Tom Hart via Flickr.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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