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. No longer! A simple trick will show Southwest flights in Google Flights searches.
Staying off other sites 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. It also means customers going to Southwest.com may not be doing comparison shopping, and may not realize Southwest often isn’t the cheapest choice.
Southwest even sues websites that display its schedules and fares without authorization. However there has been a loosening in recent years where Southwest has begun working with business travel portals to distribute its fares.
However if you want Southwest schedules and prices in your Google Flights search results, there’s a browser extension for that. It’s called Wanderlog. And what it does is take your search query you give Google, then goes out to the Southwest website from your browser to make the same inquiry, bringing Southwest search results back into the display you see with your Google results.
Southwest aggressively goes after sites that ping its website. However Wanderlog.com does not do this. The consumer, who is interested in buying Southwest tickets (potentially) does this from their own web browser! Wanderlog’s computers never ping Southwest, and none of the data passes through them.
However it’s a tool for circumventing the way Southwest seeks to display its schedules and fares, so Southwest’s lawyers are undoubtedly going to threaten over it. And if they have any real potential grounds, it may be because the browser extension inserts Southwest’s logo into the display. Does the extension therefore violate Southwest’s trademarks?
The airline has been at the forefront of opposing all third party technology that makes buying from and traveling with Southwest easier for decades so I can’t imagine they’ll sit idly by even as this helpful tool lets customers see Southwest flight options, and drives more sales to their website.
Wanderlog has also been useful for displaying all-in pricing on Airbnb searches but Airbnb is finally getting better about that.
(HT: Jonathan W.)