Game Changer: Southwest Airlines Now Available on Google Flights

Southwest Airlines famously doesn’t show up when searching online travel agency websites. Historically if you’ve wanted to buy a ticket on Southwest, you’ve had to go directly to Southwest to make the purchase.

That saves money on distribution costs since they aren’t paying third parties
But it means many consumers aren’t considering Southwest since they don’t even know about the option
The Southwest Airlines website became one of the first five e-commerce sites to hit a billion dollars in revenue, nearly a quarter century ago.

If you go to Expedia to find out about flights, you assume you’re finding out about all of the flights on a route. Yet Southwest even sues websites that display its schedules and fares without authorization.

Now, however, Southwest Airlines flights appear in results at Google Flights.

When a Chrome browser extension let you see Southwest itineraries on Google flights a year and a half ago, the airline killed it.

Two things have changed since then.

  1. Southwest is struggling. They are working on a number of changes to their business model to better meet customers where they are and deliver a product that customers are demanding. They need revenue anywhere they can get it as their losses have been surprising.

  2. Airfare displays will have to include some fees like checked bag fees under new Department of Transportation rules. Southwest doesn’t sell basic economy fares, and hasn’t had change fees. Other airlines largely matched the lack of change fees on non-basic economy tickets during the pandemic. Southwest also includes two checked bags with each ticket. Competitor fares will have to show the cost of checked bag fees. Previously, displays disadvantaged Southwest but new government rules will make them look cheaper to many customers.

Southwest Airlines didn’t like price comparisons with other carriers on third party websites because they were often more expensive, especially given their more bundled model – in addition to the added distribution costs selling through other systems.

New government rules will make those same Southwest tickets appear more competitive, and Southwest is willing to allow their fares to be displayed next to those of other airlines. And with the airline struggling they’re willing to revisit past orthodoxies.

(HT: Thrifty Traveler)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I guess the baggage display changes convinced Southwest to come on board. I always assumed WN lost a lot of business from customers not knowing a WN flight option existed. Kind of like a hotel not participating with the online travel agencies.

  2. One more airline I will need to filter out of my search. Hate the cattle herd approach of boarding and the seat shenanigans by passengers

  3. The Cattle heard is coming to an end soon too.With morons fighting on planes federal authorities can’t find the person that starts the fight because nobody wants to wrap them out so now you’re gonna have to have an assigned seat, which is good because the cattle heard is Done. Also, hopefully they’ll start charging for bags so everybody could take one and not kill the guys underneath the plane that you’re all doing.I know I’m one of them.

  4. As someone who prefers to book directly with the Airline I am seeking, I see this as another waste of money for Southwest who should be putting that money into technology to actually help Customers and Employees. They have already lost Customers due to antiquated systems which caused the meltdown of December 2022. They have also lost many Customers due to the lack of WiFi on most of their flights.

    I don’t even have to ask what HK would think of this idea.

  5. Nice quality of life change! Very convenient not to go on their website and do searches there. Most of the casual/infrequent traveller I imagine don’t know/want to check Southwest if its not in one of the big search tools.

    Lots of changes at Southwest for better or for worse it’s starting to lose its uniqueness.

  6. but remember when flying southwest and there fares are higher…
    your bags fly (FREE)…….. and if you can’t figure that out you need
    to take a math class.

  7. Southwest should have no legal basis to prevent their flights from being listed by any service.

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