WOW: 50% Off All Southwest Travel (Paid And Award Tickets), Even Rebook Past Purchases

Most airline sales are bogus, you don’t really get a better deal than you’d have gotten the day before or after the sale. This sale is incredible. Southwest is legitimately offering 50% off flights for their 50th anniversary. They’ve been teasing something big for days and this actually qualifies as big.

  • Use promo code SAVE50
  • Book by Thursday, June 17
  • Applies to travel September 15 – November 3, 2021

You can use this for purchases of all of Southwest’s fare types, Wanna Get Away (lowest fare), Anytime (refundable) and Business Select (refundable, A1-15 boarding). Naturally then the bigger savings applies to the higher fares.

This discount works for both paid travel and for award travel. Since there are no change fees, you can use the sale to rebook any existing tickets you’ve purchased for travel during the promotion period. Check the fares Southwest is charging with the sale, then consider cancelling the tickets you’ve already purchased and using those tickets as a credit towards rebooking (retaining the difference in fare for buying travel in the future).

With planes generally full and fares beginning to rise I’m a little surprised to see such a great deal, but the travel window helps understand why this makes sense both for customers and for the airline. After Labor Day leisure travel is expected to begin to dry up.

  • Kids will be going back to school
  • Work from home or from anywhere will be winding down for a least a material subset of people.
  • Yet business travel won’t be fully back yet.

This is the period of time when airlines may be seeing a real dip in traffic, before it comes back for the holidays.

Southwest Airlines was incorporated as Air Southwest Company by Rollin King and Herb Kelleher. King and Kelleher, together with banker John Parker, are said to have sketched out the idea for the airline on a napkin in a San Antonio restaurant. That’s probably apocryphal.

The carrier spent four years tied up in court trying to get off the ground, with Kelleher eventually prevailing. They based at Dallas Love Field, which incumbent airlines had agreed to abandon for Dallas Fort-Worth. However Southwest Airlines hadn’t existed and therefore wasn’t a party to that agreement. Flying solely within the State of Texas they weren’t subject to Civil Aeronautics Board route and pricing regulations either and were allowed to discount.

Southwest would fly short hops between Texas cities, eventually pioneering the 10 minute turn when they had to give back one of their Boeing 737 aircraft due to financial difficulties yet wanted to maintain their existing schedule.

In 1976, two years before airline deregulation, the Civil Aeronautics Board was ‘experimenting with price competition’ and approved Frank Lorenzo’s Texas International Airlines to undercut Southwest’s intra-Texas pricing with “Peanuts Fares” since they let you fly for peanuts.

Southwest responded with a two tiered pricing structure, one fare matching Texas International’s $13 fares and one more expensive $26 fare (for business travelers whose employers were paying) that came with a free bottle of liquor. The airline became the biggest liquor distributor in the state of Texas. They served free alcohol on board until 1988.

The airline’s flight attendants wore pink hot pants (designed by founding airline President Lamar Muse’s first wife). Automated ticket machines were called “Quickies.” Today the airline’s New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol remains LUV.

Herb Kelleher, with his love of Wild Turkey and his back slapping ways, engendered a culture of fun. And the airline’s origin story, fighting against the odds against bigger airlines, created a sense of purpose. Now Southwest Airlines is the largest carrier of domestic passengers in the U.S. but that culture largely survives.

Here is legendary American Airlines CEO Bob Crandall offering a tribute to Kelleher in song, after the Southwest Airlines co-founder retired and was being honored by the Wings Club for distinguished achievement.

Here’s the crazy story of how Southwest became an all-Bpeing 737 airline even though their first big investor, who was very religious, wanted them to fly Boeing 707s with skylights so passengers could look up towards the heavens.

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. Thanks Gary! Just got over $200 credit back for flights already booked. Island hopping in Hawaii in January will essentially now be free. Keep up the good work!

  2. WN increased prices and gave 50% discount = prices equal to the last week promotion.

  3. Did they just devalue award points again? I am looking at DAL-MIA on Oct2nd #4117 cash price $92 but points 11859; DAL-LAX Oct2nd #3937 cash price $70 points 8539? It’s less than 1 cents now?

  4. Oh well. This is called cheating! 50% off base fare but majority of flights cost the same as without using the promo code? What a waste of my time.

  5. @doublejade, you are missing something. for reward flights, make sure to put the promo code into the box. If you don’t, they’ll show up at the regular rate and you’ll think that Southwest devalued their points by double…

    Try it again, I just rebooked several upcoming flights and got tons of points back and credits for future use.

  6. I booked LGA/DAL for $113. R/T.

    I booked LGA/MDW (Chicago) for $90 R/T per person. We’re using 2 free night hotel certs for one of the the Kimptons.

  7. I was reminded by a friend on Saturday night that Rapid Rewards members used to be able to earn a free round-trip ticket (based on number of segments flown, rather than on points) that could be used pretty much anywhere in the system.

    We didn’t even know how good we had it.

  8. The sale is deceptive. A fare I was looking at yesterday was $189. Today it is $186 after 50% of $372.

  9. I have flights booked in September… can I do this maneuver while talking to an agent rather than online… I concerned I will lose our flights when I cancel before I rebook.

  10. You don’t need to cancel before you rebook. You can book a flight which is identical to your existing flight (except cheaper and/or a different class), then cancel your ‘bad’ flight.

    Both flights will show up side-by-side when you click “My Account” at the top of the page, and that is where you can cancel the ‘bad’ flight. Just make sure you know which 6-character code flight you want to cancel.

    I did that to 5 or 6 existing flights this morning (mainly converting Wanna Get Away to Business Select at the same or lower point cost), and I’ve done it numerous times in the past.

  11. @Jack and @Miles, that’s one way to do it, but the extremely complicated way. Simply go to your current flight, click on “change flight” and then pick the exact same flight again. You’ll get credited the points difference back directly into your account if it was a reward flight, or the difference in cash as a travel fund if it was a paid flight. No need to book or cancel anything…just “change” your current flight to the exact same flight.

  12. Booked fights Sunday evening. Tried Geoff’s approach and first flight went up 1,081 points and return up by 1,390. This was for DEN-PDX 9/16 and return 9/23. Hope it works for other people. For me, a price increase.

  13. Definitely a deceptive/bogus sale for my location. The price doubled during the “sale” so 50% off was more than what I would have paid. I lost over $100 using the “sale”. No way a ticket between BWI-MSY was anywhere near $800. But that’s what they are claiming, making my “sale” ticket $418. My travel buddy got the same ticket an hour before that for $271. Not a sale at all. Simply be honest, Southwest.

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