Southwest Airlines is one of the most popular airlines in the United States. Known for its generous baggage allowances and unassigned seating, Southwest has carved a reputation as an airline that isn’t afraid to be different. One great example of this is the Southwest Airlines Senior Rate.
This post will provide a quick overview of Southwest Airlines’ fare structure, including everything senior citizens need to know to score the best deals.
What Makes Southwest Airlines Such a Popular Airline?
Southwest Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States, consistently ranking among the country’s top 5 airlines. With routes all over the country as well as to many international destinations, Southwest has cemented its foothold in the American travel industry. On top of that, the airline’s affordable fares, generous baggage policies, and unassigned seating dare to be different from the rest of the industry.
Historically, Southwest has offered slews of promotional fares and rewards programs, all of which have fostered a sense of loyalty among its passengers. From senior discounts to refundable fares or no change fees, Southwest has always seemed to put the customer first. While Delta Air Lines has always given us this same feeling, most major airlines (especially American Airlines!) do not.
Travel is supposed to be enjoyable. As a family who travels every month of the year, we believe that the journey to the destination should be enjoyed almost as much as the destination itself. While it is difficult to accomplish this on short flights, I can say that I never have had bad experiences on Southwest flights.
Southwest Airlines Types of Fares
Southwest Airlines currently offers four fare types: Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away+, Anytime, and Business Select. Each fare features no change fees, two free checked bags, no cancellation fees, and flight credits that do not expire if you cancel your flight. Each fare type builds on the prior one, with Wanna Get Away fares being the cheapest and Business Select fares being the most expensive.
Wanna Get Away Fare Details
- The Wanna Get Away fare is the cheapest airfare that Southwest offers. It is essentially Southwest’s base fare.
- It is non-refundable, but can be canceled at no fee for a non-transferrable voucher equal to the cost of the flight.
- Wanna Get Away fares earn Rapid Rewards points at a rate of 6 points per dollar spent.
Wanna Get Away+ Fare Details
- The Wanna Get Away+ fare is a step up from the Wanna Get Away fare. It includes all of the features of the Wanna Get Away fare, plus a few things.
- It is still non-refundable, but the voucher is transferrable if you cancel your flight, with a few restrictions.
- You can opt for a same-day confirmed change. If there’s an open seat on a different flight that departs on the same calendar day as your original flight and it’s between the same cities, you can get a seat on the new flight free of airline charges, with a few restrictions.
- You can join the same-day standby list. Similar to the point above, if there’s an open seat on a different flight that departs on the same calendar day as your original flight and it’s between the same cities, you can get a seat on the new flight free of airline charges.
- Wanna Get Away+ fares earn Rapid Rewards points at a rate of 8 points per dollar.
Anytime Fare Details
- Anytime fares include all of the aspects of the Wanna Get Away+ fare, plus a few major advantages.
- Anytime fares are fully refundable as long as you cancel your flight at least ten minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of your flight. Instead of receiving a voucher, you will receive a full refund to your original payment method.
- You can take advantage of EarlyBird Check-In.
- You can take advantage of Priority and Express Lanes.
- Anytime fares earn Rapid Rewards points at a rate of 10 points per dollar.
Business Select Fare Details
- Business Select fares include all of the aspects of the Wanna Get Away+ fare, plus a couple of things.
- Access to Priority boarding, which is positions A1-A15.
- One complimentary premium drink on flights of more than 176 miles.
- Business Select fares earn Rapid Rewards points at a rate of 12 points per dollar.
Does Southwest Have a Senior Rate?
Southwest Airlines used to offer a senior rate that was available to all travelers above 65 years of age. In 2019, the senior fare option was dropped. Regardless of whether or not you are an AARP member, there is no way you can access a Southwest senior fare anymore.
This decision was made as Southwest consolidated its fare options to the types listed above. Senior citizens used to be able to buy senior fare tickets directly on the Southwest website, but this has gone by the wayside. Southwest’s senior fares were similar to the Wanna Get Away fare, except that they yielded a fully refundable ticket.
While you can’t get a senior discount on Southwest Airlines flights anymore, there are several things you can do to score a great deal on future travel.
Ways to Score Cheap Flights on Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines tries to market itself as an affordable yet enjoyable airline to fly with. While this is the reputation they try to put out, the truth of the matter is that flying is usually pricey and there is very little an airline can do to get around that, regardless of how much they promise everyday low fares.
Sometimes, Southwest fares are awesome. Other times, this just isn’t the case.
Regardless of the prices you may see for your given travel dates and destination, there are some things you can do to land the best possible ticket prices.
Enroll in Rapid Rewards
Rapid Rewards is Southwest Airlines’ frequent flyer program. Earning Rapid Rewards points is free, and occurs naturally each time you fly with them. If you sign up for a free account, you will earn bonus points every time you fly.
These points can then be redeemed for free flights in the future. While it may take some time to earn enough points to purchase free flights, signing up is a no-brainer. There are no costs, and you earn points each time you book flights with Southwest.
Sign Up for a Southwest Credit Card
Airline credit cards are one of the best ways to score affordable flights. Southwest credit cards provide the opportunity to earn extra miles on your daily purchases. They may also offer discounts on in-flight purchases, special perks throughout the year, and a boost toward earning Southwest’s famous Companion Pass.
On top of that, they offer promotional sign-up bonuses that reward you with tens of thousands of bonus points if you spend a certain amount of money within a few months of opening the card. These points are often enough to buy several round-trip flights, at no extra cost!
Signing up for a credit card isn’t for everyone, and you should always consult with a financial professional before opening one.
Pay Attention to Flash Sales and Promotional Offers
Southwest offers some incredible bargains from time to time. The best way to find out about these sales is to sign up for their email list. Southwest sends out frequent marketing emails offering special discounts, and these discounts can save hundreds of dollars on select flights on both domestic routes and international routes.
Here’s an example. I recently received this email from Southwest, offering flights for as low as $59 this fall. While there are always restrictions, there’s always a chance that a given Southwest Airlines coupon code can save you hundreds.
Look Into the Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest is unlike any airline in the United States, and one of the biggest examples of this is its famous Companion Pass. The Companion Pass is a promotional pass offered by Southwest that allows you to bring a companion with you on almost any flight for just the cost of taxes and fees. This benefit can’t be found on any other airline!
The Companion Pass can be very hard to get, but it is possible with some proper decision-making. From time to time, Southwest offers a free Companion Pass if you enroll in its credit cards!
Beyond this, the best way to qualify is to simply fly a ton on Southwest. If you fly on 100 one-way flights (or each end of a round-trip) or earn 135,000 Rapid Rewards points in a given year, you will be able to claim a Companion Pass for the remainder of that year and all of the next.
Use My Top Tips for Finding the Cheapest Flights
Beyond just Southwest Airlines, there are many things you can do to score the cheapest flights possible. After my years of travel experience, I’ve learned far too many tips to squeeze into just one bullet point in this post. If you want to save money on airfare, you absolutely need to read my comprehensive guide to finding cheap flights.