The Joy of Canceling Southwest Points Flights & Must Know Facts

Today, for the first time, I cancelled a Southwest flight I had booked with points.  I’ve got to say that the experience made me value my Southwest points even more.

How to Cancel Southwest Flights Booked Using Points

  1. Visit Southwest Cancel Air Reservation page.
  2. Enter your first and last name along with your confirmation number.
  3. Decide how you want the airport taxes and fees handled (either have the funds refunded or applied towards a future flight).
  4. Done.

Important Facts When Canceling Southwest Flights Booked With Points

1.  Cancelled Southwest points don’t carry a separate expiration date.  When you cancel a flight booked with cash, your unused ticket value will be applied towards future travel, but they must be redeemed within one year of the original purchase dates.  If you buy tickets on April 14th, 2013, then you’ll need to use those funds by April 14th, 2014.  However, when you cancel Southwest tickets, your points simply go back into your account and have no associated redemption deadline.

2.  Cancelled Southwest points revert to the account used to book the flights.  I was talking with a friend and he thought he’d heard that if you cancel Southwest points those points would go into the account of the ticket holder – not the account the points were booked from.  I was disappointed by that news because that would mean my points would get spread out across multiple accounts.  However, when I was canceling my flights, all the points were returned to my account (the same account the points were removed from).

3.  If you have a Companion Pass ticket associated with your reservation, you’ll need to call 1800 IFLYSWA to cancel your tickets.  Any changes made to an itinerary with a Companion Pass must be made over the phone.

How to Maximize the Generous Southwest Points Cancellation Policy

With Southwest, you have complete freedom to book now and decide later.  There is absolutely no risk in making speculative bookings.  To me, this seems counterintuitive.  I usually only make flight bookings when I’m pretty sure I’ll fly.

I mentioned that I just cancelled tickets for my kids.  I might be (still a question mark) going to the FT University in the Washington, DC area.  I found some really cheap tickets to IAD, so I thought we might want to take the kids with us.  I went ahead and make a booking for the family in case we all wanted to go and spend the week in Washington.  However, we just got back from a two week trip to Phoenix and Tulsa, so the idea of taking off as a family in four weeks time isn’t that appealing.  But that doesn’t matter because we were easily able to cancel the tickets.

If you have Southwest points, my suggestion is to book tickets if they are a good price and you think there is even the slightest possibility you’d eventually want to take the trip.  The most it can cost you is about 10-15 minute of your time booking and then canceling the tickets.  Remember, with Southwest, if the prices drop in the future you can rebook your flights at the lower fare without any fees.


  1. says

    I’m loving my Southwest companion pass! And although I don’t love the cattle call at the gate-we have taken more trips this year than ever before-all free! Thanks for all the terrific information. I’m still a newbie to the points game. We earned the pass in January of 2012.

    On points:
    The two of us-Arizona
    Family of 4 all met in Denver for Thanksgiving-3 from OC and 1 from Chicago
    Washington DC-me free with my husband on business
    New Orleans-me free with my husband on business
    San francisco-A weekend getaway-free flights and free hotel
    My son from Chicago (college) to Orange County 5 times (priceless)

    And we still have tons of points!

  2. Lynn says

    If you have the companion pass, just cancel that online 1st. Then you can cancel the reservation you added the companion pass to all online.

    • DaveB says

      Right. Worked for me twice before our trip to Atlanta last week. My ticket was paid and my wife flew on the companion pass. When the price went down I tried canceling mine and it told me I had to cancel the companion pass reservation first.

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