Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Deal-Southwest Airlines

Hello All-

I promised to post some travel tips when I returned from my vacation and although my suitcases have yet to be unpacked (hate this part!), I wanted to pass along some airline travel deals!

If you haven't ever flown Southwest, but you really want to go on a vacation I highly recommend this airline! It does have a few weird policies, which I will discuss, but the quirks make the cost so great so keep up the good work!

Southwest is considered a discount airline, but don't let that fool you! They actually offer way more perks than many of the airlines and this keeps me flying with them!

They only fly out of select cities (so for us Eugene/Springfield folks, that means a drive to Portland). I definitely suggest you price compare flight options before deciding if a trip to Portland is worth it, but many times especially if you have 2+ people flying it may be. Remember to calculate in parking (cheapest option is $9.50/day with coupon (must have on you) when checking out of Thrifty parking) or a stay at a local hotel that offers free parking (depending on your trip duration, if it is more than 5 days I would recommend checking into an airport hotel because your hotel bill would be less than paying for parking!

Anyway, back to SWA. They have a unique business model that keeps their prices low and service great! You can find the best airfares on-line at, they don't require a round trip for best fares and actually they sell 1 way fares, so this helps score even better deals. I recently did a Portland-San Diego departure and an Ontario to Portland return and it cost $300 for the ticket...that is a good deal for West Coast travel. Anything $300 or less is a good deal. Hint: West Coast travel is the most expensive in the U.S. (lucky us huh?) and we have the fewest choices, so travel along the Western corridor is so pricey if you are considering a trip to say Disneyland, price compare Disney World as flights to Florida can be much cheaper than to California....go figure???

Southwest (herein refered to as SWA) has an open seating policy. Don't let this wig you out, it is actually kind of fun! You just want to be in the A boarding section. To get into the A boarding section, get a Rapid Rewards account (this is's there frequent flier program) and check-in for your flight on-line at the 24 hour prior departure option. This will almost always guarantee you the A section. If you haven't flown with them before, they have A,B,C boarding groups. A gets on first, B second, C third. The closer you are to the front of the group the more options you have. If you are flying with kids under 5 you can board as a family between A and B if you don't have an A boarding pass...this is a change to the previous policy, but it works good in case you end up in the C group, you will still get to sit together. My daughter enjoys selecting her seat!

SWA feeds you! This doesn't happen much anymore, but they offer drinks/snacks on all flights and will even give you (gasp!) refills which was nice for my starving child on our recent flight!

They have comfortable leather seats with more leg room than I have found on competitor airlines and the staff are hilarious! My daughter was in stitches as they announced "last one off is a rotten egg!". Our last crew broke into song a few times too, so that made it fun. Their employees enjoy their jobs and it shows!

They work hard to get you to where you need to be and have a good track record for on-time flights. On our last trip I experienced a few bumps, but they worked with passengers to do their best. We got stuck in Las Vegas with a potentially canceled flight on New Years...not exactly the city you want to be in that night! But, they hurried us onto the plane early to avoid a cancellation into San Diego because of fog. We did make it and early too, so I think this airline remembers that it is the people who keep them flying...that is a nice change!

Check them out, I think you will be happy and I know you will save $!

Happy Saving!

Summer H.

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