How To Cancel A Southwest Airlines Flight [Points or Cash Ticket Purchases]

Full Disclosure: We may be financially compensated when you click on links to credit card products from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase, Citi & Capital One. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. Thanks!

Canceling a flight is never fun. Most airlines charge hefty change fees and offer little-to-no refund for a canceled flight.

Thankfully, Southwest (my favorite airline for domestic and Caribbean travel) doesn’t charge any change or cancellation fees! Yep, you read that right: no fees!

There’s no catch as long as you understand how it works. Generally, if you cancel a flight that you paid cash for, you will get all of your money back in a credit (called a travel fund by Southwest). If you paid for your ticket using Rapid Rewards points, you would get a full points refund.

Southwest’s Cancellation Policy: Flights Paid With Cash or Points

Southwest Airlines does a lot of things right. No baggage fees, an easy-to-use frequent flyer program, great customer service and NO change or cancellation fees. If Southwest flies to where I’m going, I always choose Southwest.

The cancellation policy is among the best in the industry. Although it’s generous, it varies just a bit by the type of ticket you purchase.

Difference in Southwest fare class
All fares offer reusable funds for cancellations. Business Select and Anytime fares are also fully refundable. Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Wanna Get Away Tickets

Wanna Get Away tickets are the lowest price fares that Southwest offers, and probably what most of us book for personal travel. These tickets have slightly tighter rules about flight cancellations than Business Select or Anytime fares, but it’s still a pretty generous policy.

If you cancel a Wanna Get Away fare that you purchased with cash (I mean, a credit card!), the entire purchase price will be saved as reusable travel funds for future use.

You can cancel all the way up to 10 minutes before your flight. The travel funds must be used within 1 year of the purchase date of the ticket. However, if you call Southwest directly, they will often reinstate expired travel funds for a $100 fee.

Hot Tip: Travel funds expire 12 months from the original ticket purchase date, not 12 months from the original flight!

If you cancel a Wanna Get Away fare that you purchased with Rapid Rewards points, you will receive all of your points back into your Southwest account. Any taxes associated with the ticket ($5.60 each way on domestic flights) will be held as reusable travel funds.

If you don’t cancel your Wanna Get Away ticket within 10 minutes of the flight and are a no-show, you will not receive a refund of any kind.

Hot Tip: Make a note of the confirmation number from the canceled flight. You will need this to access any travel funds associated with the ticket.

Business Select,  Anytime, and Senior Tickets

Business Select and Anytime tickets offer a more generous cancellation policy than Wanna Get Away tickets, but these tickets are more expensive. Senior fares also come with the same lax cancellation policy.

If you cancel a Business Select, Anytime, or Senior ticket, 100% of your purchase price will be refunded to your original form of payment. This applies to both cash and Rapid Rewards points tickets.

If you are a no-show for a Business Select, Anytime, or Senior ticket (meaning you didn’t cancel at least 10 minutes before take off), the purchase price of your ticket will be converted to travel funds, which can be used for another flight (within 12 months from original purchase date). If you used Rapid Rewards points, all points will be redeposited into your account.

If you make a change to an existing flight, this makes the ticket non-refundable. If you need to make an additional change or cancellation, your purchase price will be held as reusable travel funds instead of being refunded. It’s best to cancel your original flight and re-book a new one to maintain the ticket’s fully refundable status.

Bottom Line: Tickets purchased with Rapid Rewards points are fully refundable. It’s easy to earn lots of Southwest points, even without flying! Don’t forget, in addition to the credit cards that Southwest offers, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. Check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for a great all-around travel credit card that earns flexible points that can be transferred to Southwest Airlines.

Southwest’s Cancellation Policy: Flights Paid With Gift Cards and Companion Pass Flights

Gift Cards

If you purchased your flight with a gift card, it’s considered non-refundable and has slightly different rules than tickets paid for with cash or points.

If you do not take a flight purchased by a gift card, the funds will be held as reusable travel funds with an expiration date. This is usually 12 months, but if another form of payment was used, the earliest expiration date will be applied.

If you cancel your flight 24 hours or less before take off and paid for all or part of it with a Southwest gift card, you will need to contact Southwest Customer Relations at 1-855-234-4654.

Companion Pass

Any taxes paid when booking a Southwest Companion Pass fare are fully refundable to the original form of payment.

Hot Tip: Want to know what the best credit card is? Check out this list of the best credit cards for Southwest Airlines flyers!

How to Cancel a Flight on Southwest

1. After you have logged on to your account, click on My Account in the top right-hand corner.

Southwest Home Page
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

2. In the middle of the next screen, you will see all of your upcoming flights. Choose the flight you want to cancel and click on Cancel Flight.

How To Cancel A Southwest Flight
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

3. Then, you will be able to confirm the flight you are canceling and select how you want your refund. If your ticket was fully refundable, you will have the options of requesting a refund or holding as a travel fund for future use. If the ticket was non-refundable (Wanna Get Away tickets), you will be able to request travel funds for future use.

The price listed to the right is the amount being refunded or converted to travel funds. The ticket in the screenshot below is a Companion Fare, so the only money paid was the $11.20 in taxes and fees ($5.60 each way). If you booked a flight with cash, your full ticket price will show here.

Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

4. Click the yellow Cancel Flight button at the bottom of the screen to complete the cancellation.

How To Cancel A Southwest Flight
Image courtesy of Southwest.com

How to Use Southwest Travel Funds

Surprisingly, using Southwest travel funds isn’t as easy as everything else on the website. They don’t show up in your account unless you search for them. You need to know what you have and how to retrieve them!

The first thing you need to remember — and this is so important — is you must know the confirmation number that is associated with your travel funds to access them.

Travel funds are available to use for flights, taxes, and fees for the originally ticketed passenger only. You can not use travel funds to purchase a ticket for someone else.

To view your available travel funds amounts and expiration dates, click here and enter your name and confirmation number.

Hot Tip: I have unfortunately learned the hard way that it’s important to keep track of your confirmation number, travel funds amount, and expiration dates because these are very easy to forget. Try setting up a calendar reminder or keep all of the information in the notes or calendar section of your phone. This information is not easily visible on the Southwest website, so it’s up to you to keep track of it.

How to Apply Travel Funds to a New Reservation

1. Search for flights as you normally would, then proceed to the Passenger & Payment Info section.

2. In the Payment Method section, you will notice a small drop-down menu at the top that says Southwest gift cards, travel funds, and Southwest LUV vouchers. Click on this drop-down menu to fill in your travel funds information.

How To Use Southwest Travel Funds
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

3. You can toggle between the 3 payment methods. Select Travel Funds in the middle. You will need your confirmation number from the original flight, plus your full name. Click on Apply Funds to continue and finish your purchase as usual.

How To Use Southwest Travel Funds
Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

You can apply up to 3 forms of payment for each reservation, so you are allowed to use travel funds from multiple confirmation numbers at the same time.

Southwest travel funds are good for 12 months from the date of original purchase. You must use the travel funds by the expiration date. It’s not enough to just have a flight booked by the expiration date.

Bottom Line: Southwest travel funds are issued when you cancel a non-refundable ticket. They can be used within 12 months of original purchase date for the originally ticketed passenger only. You must know the confirmation number from the original ticket to access your travel funds.

Final Thoughts

Southwest Airlines does a lot of things right, including offering a generous cancellation policy.

Depending on what type of fare you purchase, you can either receive a full refund to your original payment method or travel funds that you can use on a future Southwest flight.

Southwest points are easy to earn and easy to use, and flights purchased with Rapid Rewards points are fully refundable! Don’t forget to keep the confirmation number from the flight you need to cancel handy, as you will need this to access your travel funds.

FAQ

How do I cancel a Southwest flight bought with points?

Any Southwest flight paid for with Rapid Rewards points is fully refundable. You can cancel your flight in your online account by clicking Cancel Flight in the flight information section. All of your Rapid Rewards points will be redeposited into your Southwest account. If you purchased a Wanna Get Away fare, the taxes and fees you paid will be held as reusable travel funds. If you purchased a Business Select or Anytime ticket, the taxes and fees will be refunded to the original form of payment.

Can I cancel a Southwest flight without penalty?

Generally, yes. There are no fees to cancel a Southwest flight. If you paid for the flight with Rapid Rewards points, they will be automatically redeposited into your account. If you purchased a Wanna Get Away fare with cash, the money will be held as a reusable travel fund to be applied towards the purchase of a future flight. If you purchased a Business Select or Anytime fare, any money you paid for your ticket will be refunded to the original method of payment.

When can I cancel a Southwest flight?

You can cancel any flight up to 10 minutes before the flight is scheduled to take off. After that, the price of your ticket will be forfeited if you purchased a Wanna Get Away fare. If you purchased a Business Select or Anytime fare, your ticket price will be transferred to a travel fund for use on a future flight.

When do Southwest travel funds expire?

Travel funds expire 1one year from the date of purchase of the original flight. For example, if you purchased a ticket on June 1, 2018 and canceled your flight on August 1, 2018, the travel funds you receive would expire on June 1, 2019.

Katie Seemann

About Katie Seemann

Katie is an Ohio native who caught the travel bug after spending a semester in college in Nottingham, England. In addition to exploring England, she visited Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands during that time and loved every minute of it (everything except the hostel in Scotland - that's an experience she doesn't intend on repeating!). In late 2015, Katie discovered the world of points and miles, and it literally changed her life.

Advertisement

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

29 comments

  1. Brandon Dimicelli · January 10, 2019 · Reply

    Thank you for the concise, useful information!

  2. after check in but before a 10-min window before flight time, will pts be deposited to the acct if cancelling? Thx

    • Katie Seemann · January 26, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Dan,
      Yes, in theory that should work. However, I would suggest calling Southwest to double check since that’s a very specific example that they don’t directly address on their website. You can contact SW at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).

  3. If I cancelled my Wanna Get Away flight but I cannot travel within the year before the travel funds expiration date this February, can I rebook another flight and cancel it it again to “extend” the expiration date?

    • James Larounis · January 29, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Regina! Thanks so much for reading UpgradedPoints! Your strategy is spot on — book another refundable flight, cancel, and then redeposit the funds. This should extend the expiration date of those funds.

      • Kimberly · May 13, 2019 · Reply

        Hello mr James, I have the same problem, I canceled my flight and now I have a month to fly somewhere but I work a full time job so unfortunately that’s not gonna happen. I called and asked if there is anything I can do but they said no. They said it is not possible redeem the funds for another flight then cancel it again. Is there a special way to do it? Please help! Thank you so much!

        • Katie Seemann · May 16, 2019 · Reply

          Hi Kimberly,
          Unfortunately you can’t rebook another flight and then cancel to extend the expiration date of your travel funds. The expiration date on these funds is based on the purchase of the original ticket and can’t be changed. I know that can be frustrating, but keep in mind, Southwest has one of the most generous policies regarding cancelling a ticket — most airlines charge hefty fees to change a ticket.

        • Vanny · May 22, 2019 · Reply

          Hi, i read that it expires one year from the original purchase date. So rebooking and cancelling will not work. However, if you contact Southwest, they can extend the travel fund expiration for ~$100

          • Stephen Au · May 22, 2019

            Hey Vanny,

            Great input. Yes, you can’t extend your tickets indefinitely by cycling through cancellations and re-booking. The only way to truly extend the expiration is via the $100 fee to reinstate your travel funds. Thanks for reading.

      • James Larounis · May 21, 2019 · Reply

        Hi Regina! My apologies for the confusion here — Katie is correct in her reply. I’ve canceled a few Southwest tickets in this practice before, but it looks like that’s not standard procedure for the funds to be renewed, so I’d like to defer to Katie’s response for the best practice in this scenario.

  4. Jo-Anne · April 1, 2019 · Reply

    Hi. I have purchased a same-day round trip ticket for April 3rd and I need to cancel the return trip for some reasons. I already emailed Southwest’s customer service but it will take 48 hours to get a reply. I am concerned because they might not cancel the return trip anymore. Kindly advise.

    • Hi Jo-Anne, you can cancel a Southwest flight up to 10 minutes before your flight so you have some time… I would follow the instructions in the “How To Cancel Your Southwest Flight” section above. Basically, log-in online and cancel it yourself – again, there are steps and photos above that walk you through it.

      If you’re having trouble with this, we recommend calling SWA’s reservation line directly (1-800-435-9792) vs waiting for an e-mail.

      Lastly, please be advised we are not Southwest Airlines so we cannot cancel your flight for you. Hope this information helps!

  5. Larry A Myers · April 6, 2019 · Reply

    Senior fares do NOT get a refund to your credit card. I just found that out the hard way. Instead SW keeps the money in your so-called Travel Funds. Sucks.

    • Katie Seemann · April 8, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Larry,

      According to the Southwest website, senior fares are refundable:

      “Travelers 65 years of age or over may get details on fares, limitations, and any restrictions regarding reservations on Southwest.com from a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative or a travel agent. Fares are subject to change until tickets are purchased, but Senior Fares are refundable. Please see details below for tips on how to make your travel experience on Southwest Airlines even easier.”

      I would suggest giving Southwest a call to see if you can get a refund instead of travel funds.

  6. Kenneth Demus · April 24, 2019 · Reply

    I would like the phone number for customer relations.

    • Andrew Kunesh · April 24, 2019 · Reply

      Hey Kenneth! We found this customer service number on Southwest’s website: 1 (800) 435-9792.

  7. Hi! Thank you for this great article! Do I need to TRAVEL within 12 months or just PURCHASE within 12 months (travel date beyond 12 months)?

    • Katie Seemann · May 1, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Karen,
      Are you referring to SW Travel Funds? If so, you need to TRAVEL by their expiration date. For example, if your funds expire on Dec 1, you need to complete your flights by that day, not just purchase another ticket by that day.

  8. If I book a ticket for another person using my RapidRewards points, and then cancel it, would those points go back to my account or to the account of the person for whom I bought the ticket?

    • Hi BP!

      The Southwest Rapid Rewards points will be returned to the account of the person who initially made the booking. So if you used your own points to book a flight for someone else, the points will be returned back to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.

  9. Melissa · July 14, 2019 · Reply

    I have a refund voucher that said it expires on Aug. 16. I’m trying to book a flight to fly ON Aug.16, which is what I understand is the expiration day and I need to fly by. But it’s saying when I go to add the voucher refund, that it’s passed the expiration date and now saying Aug. 15. I have an email from them from when I cancelled saying Aug. 16 is expiration date too.

    Does this mean that Aug. 16 isn’t included as an option to fly, and must fly BEFORE the expiration date of Aug. 16 (so Aug. 15 is latest date to fly by?)

    • Katie Seemann · July 15, 2019 · Reply

      Hi Melissa,

      I have always understood that the expiration date is the last day to fly (not the day before) so if it says Aug 16 I would think you could fly that day.

      Is any part of your trip after Aug 16? Are you trying to book a flight that leaves on Aug 16 and comes back later? That would be one reason it’s not working. The whole trip needs to be before the expiration date to qualify.

      If not and you are still having trouble, I would suggest calling Southwest to see if they can help you.

  10. If I bought an Anytime ticket and paid with gift card, will I get all credit back to the gift card after canceling the flight?

    • Stephen Au · July 23, 2019 · Reply

      Hi TW,

      You should be able to get all the credit back to your account. However, please double check with Southwest Airlines directly.

  11. If the canceled reservation (bought by me with a credit card) includes a second person, do all the travel funds go back to my account for use by me, or can only the second person use their share of the travel funds? Thanks.

    • Hi GMW,

      All of the travel funds will be returned to you since it was purchased with your credit card.

      Thanks for reading!

      • Hi, I have Wanna get away ticket. If cancel it, can I add another person when I rebook with travel funds? My understanding, it that it’s okay but funds will be only applied to the initial person, right?

        • Katie Seemann · August 15, 2019 · Reply

          Hi Dice,
          Yes, you’re correct. When you re-book, it can be for 2 people, but your travel funds will only apply to your ticket.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Email needed if you'd like comment updates. It will NOT be published.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. For more information on our advertisers, see here.