Southwest Airlines offers a variety of free beverages in-flight, including soft drinks, tea, hot chocolate and coffee. Beer, wine and spirits, on the other hand, come with a price tag of $6 to $7 per drink.
Scoring Southwest drink coupons can save you money on those purchases. You can earn free drink coupons when you book a specific number of qualifying flights with Southwest. Here's more on how these coupons work and some ways to get them.
How to get Southwest drink coupons
There are generally only two ways to get free drink coupons from Southwest:
Book 10 qualifying flights with Southwest. While not an officially published policy, you can book flights to earn drink coupons. Specifically, these flights need to be ones that you pay for, not ones booked with Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Once you book the appropriate number of qualifying flights (usually 10), Southwest rewards you with drink coupons, assuming you're 21 or older. Normally, you'll get physical coupons sent to you in the mail to bring on your flight and use to pay for your drink.
Book a Business Select fare. When you fly Business Select, you get a coupon that's good for one free premium drink in-flight, along with priority boarding and Fly By check-in. Your drink coupon may be electronic (especially if you check in through the app), or it may be a printed coupon with your boarding pass.
» Learn more: How to rebook and save when Southwest prices drop
What can you use Southwest drink coupons for?
Southwest offers a variety of free nonalcoholic beverages, along with complimentary in-flight snacks. Drink coupons are meant for beverages that you'd ordinarily have to pay for. However, alcoholic drink service is currently paused due to COVID-19.
Beverages that aren't free include:
According to the in-flight menu, all of these options can be purchased using Rapid Rewards or Southwest Business Select drink coupons. If you're flying between Hawaiian Islands, Southwest limits service to water and juice. But the airline will still honor drink coupons if you're flying Business Select.
Do Southwest drink coupons expire?
If you're earning free drink coupons with Southwest, it's important to know that the airline does impose a deadline for using them. Drink coupons expire on the last day of the month, 12 months from the date of issue.
However, Business Select drink coupons are valid only on the day of travel.
The good news, though, is that Southwest has extended expiration dates for drink coupons that expired in 2020 through Dec. 31, 2021.
So if you've accumulated drink coupons but had to change your travel plans because of the pandemic, you have more time to use them. Just make sure to physically have them in your possession on your flight once Southwest restarts alcohol service.
Save on drinks without Southwest drink coupons
If you don't have any drink coupons, here are some other tips you can try to save money on beer, wine and cocktail purchases.
Book with the right card: When you book flights with the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, you can get 20% back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi. You'll also earn Rapid Rewards points on those purchases, which you can use toward future flights.
Look for holiday freebies: Southwest offers complimentary drinks to travelers on selected holidays, including St. Patrick's Day. We’ve also seen drinks offered for free on birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. While there's no guarantee, you may score a free drink without a coupon if you're traveling on a holiday.
Ask: You may be able to get a free drink coupon just by asking. For example, if your flight's been delayed, Southwest may be willing to offer a free drink as partial compensation. The worst that can happen is they say no.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
The bottom line
Southwest drink coupons can help with saving money on in-flight purchases. If you don't have any coupons on hand, you may be able to save on in-flight drinks by paying with a Rapid Rewards credit card and earning a percentage back on those purchases. Be aware that Southwest's in-flight drink menu can change regularly, so pay attention to any price updates if you're paying for alcoholic beverages out of pocket.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card