Southwest Airlines offers one of the best rewards programs out there with a free ticket requiring only 8 round trip credits. Flying Business Select Class offers double credit for each flight as well so only four round trips earn a free standard ticket. Business Select passengers board first and receive a free alcoholic beverage if desired.
Southwest also has a Companion Ticket program that allows a Rapid Rewards member to fly with a companion whose fare is free except for Federal and airport taxes. This is particularly desirable for couples and for business partners to save on airfare.
Southwest Airlines places few restrictions on its rewards travel as well. Tickets are treated pretty much the same as regular tickets with the exception that rewards travel does not earn trip credits. Rewards are valid for a long time and can be used as little as one hour before departure time once earned.
Southwest offers many specials on their website, including a destination of the day each day with discounted fares to and from the cities they serve. For example, one day offered trips to and from Pittsburgh, PA for as little as $59 dollars. The destination changes daily and offers substantially cheaper fares than normal rates. Another fine Southwest cheap fare is the Wanna Get Away fare which is often half or less the standard and Business Select fares. These tickets are not refundable but can be applied to future travel instead. Seats are limited and pricing varies from flight to flight and some of these fares are only available on internet booking. For regular booking, these are the biggest deal for cheap seats.
Another special Southwest Airlines cheap fares feature is the Southwest “Ding!” program. These offers represent the cheapest of all fares and are limited time offers that are delivered to your desktop. “Ding!” requires installing downloaded software to your computer which delivers special offers right to your desktop. The software takes only a couple of minutes to download with a fast internet connection and uses few resources. It will run on nearly any Windows PC or Mac computer and has no spyware and does not contain personal information.
“Ding!” Places a small icon in your system tray and will signal you when an offer for one of your destinations is available. When an offer occurs, a little envelope appears on the icon and the system can be set to use or disable an audible “ding” when offers come in. Clicking on the icon allows connection to the Southwest Airlines website and the very limited time special.
“Ding!” allows you to enter your home zip code and then up to 10 destination airports for offers for deeply discounted fares. These can be reset whenever you desire as can the departure zip code by using the simple update functions. The whole “Ding!” Program can be turned off easily and should you choose to remove this software it can be done easily using “Add/Remove” in your control panel.
“Ding!” Is not currently available for wireless devices such as cell phones or blackberry devices but may be offered in the future. The software can be used at home and at work where permitted. Most firewalls permit the use of “Ding!” software without much trouble and the FAQ page explains how to deal with any such problems.
If an offer expires, you cannot get the price but offers may be available again in just a few minutes. Since the software is simple to use and the fare offers so cheap, it is well worth a try. It is also very easy to remove should you so choose. “Ding!” fares are even lower in cases than the Wanna Get Away discount fares.
It is not necessary to install software to get special cheap fare offers. Southwest also offers the Click ‘n Save program which sends e-mail alerts and special offers once you have signed up for it. You don’t have to be a member of Rapid Rewards or register to use this service, but if you are a member both “Click ‘n’ Save” and “Ding!” will deliver special offers for members only. Signing up is free and simple as well. This is a perfect option for someone who does not wish to add software although the offers may not be as deeply discounted as “Ding!” fares.
Southwest Airlines also offers special fares for different seasons and discounts for 14 day and 21 day advance purchases. Special offers are frequently posted with amazingly cheap fares, such as Dallas to Tulsa or Houston to San Antonio for as little as $29! Checking the website frequently is the best way to learn about these specials if a person doesn’t want to use the “Ding!” software or the e-mail notifications of Click ‘n’ Save.
For thrifty flyers, few airlines offer the options and convenience of Southwest Airlines, the airline for cheap fares and passenger LUV. The staff is both professional and skilled but they are always friendly and helpful. Flying Southwest saves money and makes flying fun again instead of being such a chore.