Please tell me about Southwest

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by Nutbean, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Nutbean

    Nutbean Mouseketeer

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    Hello everyone.

    I'm a Canadian looking to cross the border in to the US to save some money on airfare. My local airport is 1 hour away however, by driving an extra 3-4 hours I can easily save $200 per person (we are a group of 8 so this is $1600 savings).

    Our dates are September 10-18 but I would ideally like to change them to September 8-16 so we can leave on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday.

    Anyway, for a 4 hour drive, I could leave on a Tuesday and fly United or Delta for $215/person but there would be a 1.5 hour stopover. I could fly direct on JetBlue but flights are now $273/person (when I first started looking at airfare, it was $169/person direct but I didn't want to commit until I knew if free dining was going to be released for our dates or not).

    For a 5 hour drive, I could leave on the Sunday (my preference) and fly Southwest for $180/person direct. I just don't know anything about Southwest having never flown with them before.

    I love the idea of all the extras with JetBlue but I'm not sure it's worth an extra $100 per person...

    Does Southwest have free check in luggage? On board snacks? TVs in the seats? What is their cancellation policy like? Can I re-schedule if I need to without penalty?

    Anything else I should know about Southwest (in your experience) before I book?

    Thank you so much!!
     
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  3. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    Southwest has 2 checked bags free, a good selection of snacks for purchase, although pretzels, nuts cookies fare ree as well as bottled water, soda, coffee and tea. Can't remember about the movies.
    You do not get assigned seating with Southwest. Instead you are given a boarding number (A1-60, B1-60 etc). All seats are available to you once you board. The airline will load disable pax first so they often take a few seats in the first row. Then the A group goes. A1-15 is saved for people paying business class (which is the same seat size but more loyalty points, and a free alcoholic drink). Then A16-30 board.
    After the A group, often there is family boarding although this can sometimes be suspended for popular family destinations like Orlando. Family boarding is limited to families with children under the age of 5, I believe. Sometimes they limit the number of family boarding at this time to one adult to one small child (this is to prevent very large families boarding out of order)
    Then the B group goes and lastly, the C group. There is a joke that C group stands for center seat.
    This method of boarding allows for quicker turn arounds at the gates.

    There is an option for EBCI (Early boarding check in) which checks the passengers in at the 36 hour mark rather than the 24 hour mark. This often means a more advantageous boarding position (often in group A, but not guaranteed).

    EBCI is handy if you are busy at the parks at the 24 hour check in mark or you do not have access to a printer. You can simply go to the airport and print your boarding pass at the kiosk.
     
  4. Nutbean

    Nutbean Mouseketeer

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    Wow! I'm glad I asked. I didn't know about any of that boarding stuff. Thanks for the tips!!

    So far I definitely like what I'm hearing. The free checked bags is a bonus as Delta and United charge $25 per bag each way!
     
  5. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    Also, Southwest does not charge for changes (except fare differences--no extra charges unlike United that just jacked theirs up to $200 per person for a domestic ticket) and if you have to cancel the unused tickets can be put into a future travel voucher valid for a year from date of issue
     
  6. Nutbean

    Nutbean Mouseketeer

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    Seriously? That is fabulous!!

    This seems too good to be true. I feel like I've hit the jackpot actually!

    :cool1:
     
  7. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    I like the Southwest boarding system. I see a lot of pre assigned seats get changed when an airline changes the plane model or a flight gets canceled and then people have to scramble for seats and try to get the family seated together.

    I like that Southwest seems to cancel/change fewer flights (at least here in the San Francisco bay area.

    Also in this area I like the large number of flights out of the three airports. So if I am flying to Seattle to catch a cruise I don't always have to fly out the night before to ensure I'll make the cruise. I can take an early morning flight and if there is a problem there are 4 or 5 more flights I can catch that will get me to the ship on time.
     
  8. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    Be sure to do a price comparison. Southwest used to be know for its low fares, but now, that is not always the case. Last year I flew my family of 6 people from Cali to MCO. Even taking into account the baggage charges each way, I saved $50 per person by flying Virgin America (even more when the price went down and Virgin put the excess payment into a travel bank for future use ($600).
     
  9. Nutbean

    Nutbean Mouseketeer

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    That was my next question actually. I keep hearing people talk about great deals with Southwest.

    Is $179.80/person direct a good price out of Rochester, NY to Orlando?

    Dates and flight times are all perfect for us...
     
  10. pieface

    pieface Mouseketeer

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    Southwest is a great airline I try to fly as every chance I get. Just read the boarding procedures and you will be fine. I don't know how many people are traveling with you if you have a group have several people pay the extra 10 dollars and buy the early bird feature that way you will be certain to get A boarding passes and you can save seats for your others. Love southwest
     
  11. stitchlovestink

    stitchlovestink DIS Veteran

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    bolding is mine...
    actually, I believe the voucher will be good for a year from the original date of purchase of the original ticket. (not sure if that is what you are trying to say in your post, but just trying to clarify for the OP, so they know that the voucher will only be good for one year from when they originally purchased the first ticket...not when they cancelled the flight and the voucher was issued.)

    I'm not sure...if you have a large group travelling together, I would try entering a smaller number say maybe 3 people and see what rates come up. You may find that you can get some of the tickets cheaper and then as the plane fills, the price of the tickets will go up. But it almost always seems if you put a larger number of tickets in, say 5 or more, you're not going to get a better price.
    So for example you have 9 people travelling... you might get the first 3 tix for $110, and the next 3 for $150, and the last 3 for the $180. But if you put in all 9 at once, it's not going to give you any of the cheaper seats, it's going to charge you the $180 for all 9. See what I mean?
    just a suggestion... :)
     
  12. stitchlovestink

    stitchlovestink DIS Veteran

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    Hi pieface!!! Just had to say "Hi"!! :wave2:
    You're so close just a few miles away!! Cool to see another Dis'er so close to home!! :thumbsup2
     
  13. gmeh1

    gmeh1 DIS Veteran

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    Just to tag onto your post: Travel has to be completed within one year of original purchase.
     
  14. Nutbean

    Nutbean Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for that suggestion. I took your advice and tried that technique and the price came up the same regardless. $90 each way, $179.80 round trip. Since it was direct and on the date we wanted with excellent flight times, I went ahead and booked. Worst case scenario, the price goes down (and I happen to notice), we'd get a credit.

    So excited!!!
     
  15. stitchlovestink

    stitchlovestink DIS Veteran

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    OH! Well I didn't realize that was the price of a R/T ticket!! Yeah, I think you did about as well as you are going to do!! I'd be shocked if you got them any cheaper...and if so, I would imagine if would literally only be a few dollars! Congrats on the good deal!
     
  16. anonymousegirl

    anonymousegirl DIS Veteran

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    I think that is a great price. The best Southwest fare I ever scored from California to Orlando was $214 R/T. I couldn't afford NOT to go for that price and already having an AP. Just plunked down $77 a night for Pop and away I went!
    Good job OP. I think you will like Southwest.
     
  17. Iamthequeen

    Iamthequeen DIS Veteran

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    I fly SW every chance I get. I think you got a great price on R/T tickets. I'm paying $109 one way from Baltimore to Orlando, so $90 one way is terrific.

    SW does not have TV or movies.
     
  18. mikedoyleblogger

    mikedoyleblogger DIS Veteran

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    It's totally true! If you book Southwest, keep checking periodically to see if the fare goes down. If it does, you can rebook (online or I imagine on the phone) your exact same flights at the lower rate, with the money you save remaining in your "Travel Fund" for use for additional Southwest travel within 12 months. (If you book at higher fare categories, this money may even be immediately refundable.) I don't believe it's an actual physical voucher. The money just remains in a virtual Travel Fund attached to your name--so with the caveat that you can't pool those monies. If two people are traveling together on the same reservation, they each have an individual Travel Fund (i.e. the person who made the reservation can't use all the monies just for themselves later.)

    I rebooked our Memorial Day Weekend WDW trip last week for the same dates/flights when I saw that the fare suddenly dropped, and we saved $81 a ticket! (Which we'll use for our next WDW or DLR Disney trip on Southwest.)
     
  19. elfling8

    elfling8 Mouseketeer

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    We rebooked our Manchester, NH to Orlando direct flight and got direct credit card refund - with the "wanna get away" or "online only" fares.
     
  20. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

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    FYI, all of your questions can be answered if you take a look at the websites for JetBlue and Southwest.

    Also, direct and non-stop flights are two different things; direct flight do have stops. I'm not sure which one you meant in your question.
     

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