Southwest: buy on release day or wait

Was perusing other posts on this. Currently planning on using SWA from san antonio to mco for August 2020 trip. They are the only ones with direct flights at this time - they are more expensive but guess that is why 2 bags included in price.

So release date for my flight dates hasn’t happened yet. My general question is should I book on opening day or wait for prices to lower? I understand that SWA will do price adjustments/credits if price decreases. However, I have a low likelihood of using those credits - not impossible, but not probable.

I keep seeing “sales” and 'save/click" deals coming through from SWA.

I guess, now that I write this I should purchase on opening day- It decreases planning stress, I got the flights I wanted, and it is over and done with.

Thoughts? insights?

Here is what I did…

Flying out of Raleigh, NC. There are normally 3 direct flights:

6:00 AM
12:50 PM
7:15 PM

After a lot of tracking (modeling lots of hypo trips Sun-Sat), I noticed the 12:50 PM flight was the most popular bc it was consistently the highest price. The 6AM and 7:15 PM flights were always the cheapest. Since I knew I wanted the 12:50, I found out the day SW would release the flights and booked ASAP. I got it for $89/person/one way. It’s now $159.

The 6AM and 7:15 PM are $92/person/one way but dropped as low as $79 (I think). So, if you can find out your options, look to see what’s the most popular, if you want that, boom ASAP. If you know it’s not a popular flight, you might wait to save a few bucks but knowing what I know now, it’s not worth the what if…

Hope that helps!

For SW they have a “Wanna Get Away” price that is typically far less than “opening day” prices. The catch is they appear about 90 days before your travel date and are non-refundable. SW doesn’t do price adjustments / credits towards these.

If you do plan to buy ASAP. Do it on a Tuesday after 3pm. This is when SouthWest releases their new low rates. They wait to see what the other airlines offer, then make their price a few dollars less.

If you see a flight and price you like, I would buy it right away. If I had done so, I would have got a better price rather than watching like a hawk for a couple months. But do iy right away. Not 12 hours after released, the hour they are released. You have 24 hours to think about it either way. :wink: The prices fluctuate a ton those first two days. I could have snagged an $87 one way, but I hesitated for like 5 hours and that same flight was up at $300 something. I still ended up with good flights and prices buying 4 months out, but the best were right away. Good luck!

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thanks. There are 2 direct flights to MCO and 3 returning. I would take the 7am going and i think it is the 7pm returning. The “wanna get away” prices seem to be $170 each way. So total with taxes for 2 ppl is $683. So i guess I could target 170 or lower per flight as my cap.

The early august flights still have availability so I would imagine late august (though closer to school starting) would probably be the same (e.g. no major holidays) availability.

Do the “wanna get away” prices come out on opening day?

The “wanna get away” prices have always come out for me on opening day. They often see out fast, sometimes within an hour. Lately you have been able to get into the system for early booking on release morning through the “low fare calendar”. That advantage will get you the lowest prices.


I have a trip in June, and booked my flights the day they released. I always book “Wanna Get Away” and I added early bird this time because I am taking 2 teenagers and 2 kids and don’t want to worry about how they will make us do family seating or not. So one of the flights has dropped in price, so I changed it and just selected the same flight, If I am going to use that credit it has to be on the same passengers within a year of when I originally booked, that may not happen. The other flight has gone up in price by 20 bucks each, so to me it was worth booking on opening day, just because they were within what I planned to pay and now I don’t have to worry about it.(I still check and compare at least a couple of times a week of course, lol).

I fly out of IND, so not a big airport. I watch flight prices & have an idea what the typical low price is. When flights released for December they were $120 tech way. I ended up getting the MK for $69 one way and $109 the other. So it really just depends. I would know your price & plan accordingly.

Depends how popular your dates are and how flexible you are. Week of Thanksgiving, good luck prices going down. August shouldn’t be too bad,summer vacations are more spread out and more Texans vacation in July than August.

It depends on a lot of factors and the prices constantly change. Typically, the lowest Wanna Get Away fares are on release day and sell out at that lowest price quickly. Then they’ll have another amount of tickets allotted for Wanna Get Away fares at higher prices. If I see a price I like, I book. We usually fly at least twice a year so I check the prices every day and if the price goes down I call and get an adjustment, which they will let you use as a credit towards future travel (I believe if you book with points you do just get the points refunded). They will also let you make changes with no penalty at all except that you may have to pay the difference in price. So I see it as being relatively low risk to book as long as I’m comfortable with the price I’m paying.

I don’t typically wait around for price drops on Southwest. Even at their lowest fare (wanna get away) , you can change your flight with no fees. If the new flight costs more, you just have to pay the difference. If it costs less, Southwest will issue you a “travel fund” credit, which is essentially credit that can be used on southwest.

It doesn’t even really have to be a new flight, it could be that they are now offering seats on your flight at a lower cost. The credit typically has to be used within a year, and can only be used for the passenger that had the original ticket.

With higher fare classes, you can get a refund of the amount of the difference to the form of payment you used.

So I recommend, buy the tickets for the flight you want at a price you can live with. Then check in on the website regularly to see if lower priced seats are available. Pay special attention to emails you may get from Southwest announcing sales & possible follow a travel blog that would typically post articles when fares sales are going on.

I don’t know how frequently you fly, but if you plan more than just this upcoming trip I would buy right away.
We use southwest as much as possible and buy our flights when the schedule opens for Disney trips. Then we check in for sales/lower prices and just change the flight to the same one at the lower price. Although you don’t get the money back right away, you have a credit for the next time. After doing this for our last two trips, we have almost $300 in credits to use for our next flight.