Sue has become the master of Southwest Airlines new game “airfare roulette.”
Since Southwest added flights from Houston Hobby to SJO and LIR Costa Rica and we have easy connections from Colorado it’s become our airline of choice. In April 2016 they announced direct flights from L.A. which gives Californians cheap easy access to Costa Rica for the first time in a decade.
They also have no penalty for changing your tickets so Sue has started buying a year in advance then setting price watchers to see how the fares change. If it drops significantly she books the new fare and cancels the old and we gain a credit for our next flight. When we took the whole extended family down in January of 2016 she got almost $1,000 back when fares dropped in August 2015.
It’s only worth playing if you regularly fly Southwest since you don’t get a refund, just a credit to use on a ticket purchase within a year and Southwest is the only airline I know of with zero penalties. On nearly any other airline the $100-$250 change penalty per flight will erase any savings you might get from a sale on airfare.
We’ve also appreciated the Southwest advantage a couple of times when we needed to change dates in the middle of the trip. When things like finding out a friend has Alzheimer’s and your chances to see them are limited come up it’s nice to be able to tack on a few extra days to visit without breaking the bank.
Another fantastic advantage for us on Southwest is that their Denver flights to and from Costa Rica connect through Houston Hobby Airport which doesn’t have many international flights. We breeze through customs and immigration in a matter of minutes along with the other 200 or so people on our flight. Compare that to George Bush Intercontinental Airport where there are thousands of people in line and getting back in the U.S. can take literally hours.
This may be starting to sound like an advertisement for Southwest but it’s really not. We don’t have any sort of affiliation or income from them…we simply appreciate being treated fairly, great customer service, and convenience.