I was reminded today of another reason to like Southwest Airlines: flexibility on changing reservations.
While most airlines charge a substantial penalty to switch flights, Southwest simply charges the difference in fare, if any. So when I had to change a reservation today for business reasons, the cost was just $84 — and that was only only because I changed my return from a Tuesday, when fares are lower, to a Saturday, when they tend to be higher. Had I changed it from Tuesday to Wednesday, there would have been no charge at all.
Most airlines in the United States charge a $150 penalty to change a domestic ticket, plus any difference in the fare, with exceptions only for the most expensive, refundable tickets. Those policies apply to cancellations as well — you might get a credit if you cancel a flight, but the change fee will be deducted from it.
When my husband and I had to cancel a Florida trip on Delta because of an illness in the family, we were out $150 each. On the other hand, when we canceled a flight to Baltimore on Southwest, we got credit for the full fare, good for a year, and reapplied it to tickets to Denver.
Oh, and then there are the bag fees. Southwest still takes two checked bags per passenger at no additional charge. I just feel the need to point that out.
Want to compare more airline fees? The Airfarewatchblog has a terrific chart.