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Southwest Airlines is like the Costco of airlines: its prices are among the lowest you'll find, it's offerings are certainly no-frills, and it has a seemingly cult following.
If you already love Southwest, you don't need us to tell you why flying the airline saves you money and time. But if you've never done it before — or are debating between two similar routes on another, non-Southwest airline — here's why flying Southwest is a great call in saving you money and time.
» Learn More: Southwest Rapid Rewards Program: The Complete Guide
1. When you’re looking for convenient flight times to your destination: Southwest has more flights at airports where it has a significant presence, which means more options for you. For example, if you’re flying out of an airport such as Chicago’s Midway, check the Southwest website for flight times. You may find one for the exact time you want for the same price as an inconveniently timed flight with another airline.
2. When you want to take advantage of fare sales: The airline is known for offering sales throughout the year. It's a regular occurrence to find fare sales with prices starting as low as $39 each way.
3. When you check a bag: Bag fees can be brutal. But since Southwest, allows you to check your first two checked bags for free (provided that the bags do not exceed the size and weight limit) it's no surprise that the airline won the top spot in our ranking of best airlines for low fees.
If you check in luggage, you could save $25 or more per piece by choosing Southwest over most other airlines.
4. When you change flights: When you change flight times or dates, you typically have to pay the fare difference and a change fee charged by the airline. While some airlines have slowly started eliminating change fees in light of the coronavirus pandemic, often the end of change fees is limited to just domestic flights, and typically it doesn't encompasses other airlines' cheapest, basic economy fares.
Southwest has never charged change fees. With Southwest, you pay just the fare difference. Change fees can add over $150 to a ticket price at other carriers.
5. When you don’t have significant frequent flyer miles accumulated with another carrier: Flying frequently with one airline while using its frequent flyer program has perks such as the ability to earn premium status, mileage bonuses and class upgrades. Choosing another airline for some flights can hurt your progress in boosting your mileage balance. But if you’re not close to any bonuses or earning free tickets with any particular airline, you can choose Southwest to use its varied perks to save money.
» Learn More: Find the best airline credit card for you
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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Don’t let hidden hotel fees spoil your stay Landing the best airfare is a matter of timing 9 easy ways to earn travel rewards you’ll actually use