Southwest’s new “change fee court” ads

Check out Southwest’s new set of commercials, revolving around their lack of change fees, as passengers take the “other” airlines to “change fee court.”

Here’s the first ad:

Here’s the second ad:

And here’s the third ad:


Filed Under: Southwest, Videos
  1. The guy in the first ad seems like he really plays for the *other* team, if ya know what I mean. And why is half the jury black? Excuse me, African American.

  2. As a United apologist, I must point out that if there was a medical emergency, you can get your change fees waived for not just the injured party, but all family members. šŸ˜›

  3. I hope SW plans on adding flights when all the legacy flyers change carriers. Big smile and grin.
    Call me when SWA starts flying out of HPN.

  4. I generally like Southwest, but I think these ads go too far. My understanding is that, if you change your return flight after you have flown your outbound, the legacies waive the advance purchase requirements, but Southwest enforces them. This means a change that costs $150 on the legacies (assuming the same fare bucket is available) can easily cost $200 or more on Southwest if it is made less than 7 (or 3) days before the flight departs. Similarly, most of the legacies allow same-day standby for $50, but Southwest makes you buy up to the full unrestricted fare.

  5. Southwest doesn’t charge change fees but also doesn’t allow you to stand by for an earlier flight without paying the fare difference. Continental lets me, with my Plat status, make same day changes for free. I’ll do that trade all day…

  6. Meh. I’m a loyal legacy flyer because I want to earn miles to fly on awards to Europe, Singapore, etc, and Southwest will thus never work for me. But that said, they’re very good at what they do and (most importantly) they make my flying cheaper because I’m based in BWI and they bring the prices of all the legacy carriers down. So good for them, and good for me.

  7. WN’s lack of nickel-and-dime fees is nice, and I still wish the legacies didn’t have similar fees (one reason I’m glad to have elite status on UA & DL at least). However I’m not sure that, even with those lack of fees, WN is as “low price” as they once were. No I haven’t done a detailed analysis so I may be wrong, just speaking anecdotally from some comparisons.

    Looking at their website, only the Wanna Get Away fares require payment of the fare difference for same-day changes – Anytime & higher fares do not. UA, for example, charges $75 for same-day confirmed changes on non-refundable tix (only GS and 1K exempt).

    WN does provide for a voucher usable for future travel if you cancel (even on the cheapest fare), though I see that starting 28 Jan, one can no longer apply the voucher to any traveler, it must be used by the same individual who had the original. This seems to be rather unpopular judging by some customer comments.

    I guess while the commercials are cute, the overall picture with WN is much more of a mixed bag than it once was, in my opinion.

  8. Southwest offers a significant benefit in having no bag fees, but Southwest’s “no change fee” ad is misleading, especially as regards same day standby.

    The legacy airlines allow either same day standby or same day confirmed changes, either for a fairly nominal fee, or free for their elites. Southwest requires paying the difference to the last minute walk up fare if it is a voluntary change. For example if you get to the airport early and want to fly an earlier flight you may have to pay hundreds of dollars.

    If your date changes, the change fee savings may be material, but Southwest still requires paying up to the current fare, while in some cases the legacies charge just a change fee. And Alaska waives change fees for Gold elites.

  9. i admit to always being skeptical about Southwest’s “we’re so much more consumer-friendly” ads when they’re the only major US airline that doesn’t allow non-selling sites like Kayak to display their fares, making it harder for customers to compare them to other airlines.

    Cute ads, but they’re not nearly as customer-friendly as they make themselves out to be.

  10. These ads ARE false and misleading advertising. Sure there may be one or two conditions where there is no fee, but as a very frequent flier, there are just as many “gotcha’s” with changing flights on SW as any other airline. I’ve been hit by them just as much as with United, American, or Delta.

  11. IK, do you have a problem with gay people or black people? There really isn’t any reason to make your comment unless you do. And what does a gay person look like anyway? I didn’t notice either of your “facts,” and I’m both black and in a same-sex relationship (with a white person, you probably are bothered by that too).

  12. I like the Southwest ads. They are not aimed at people with elite status on legacy airlines. I suspect most of you would fly Southwest rather than a legacy carrier if you didn’t have elite status. I know that is true for me, a Gold elite on Continental.

  13. I LOVE the cute guy in ad #1 and I assumed he was very gay. So, no style points for 1K, but Annise, come on, let’s call a queen a queen. šŸ™‚ (signed, gay guy)

  14. @Annise, @Jason – just trying to be controversial. šŸ˜‰ And just so you know, I’m not white (Asian-American) & I’m gay, so I joke about it. The guy in the video IS very fruity AND half the jury is black. Just pointing out the obvious (to me at least). I’m sorry I offended you both.

  15. thanks for posting these – hilarious. that mom in the second video is the definition of a “kettle!” let’s just hope she flies southwest so I don’t have to hear her complain on my next AA flight cause she had to pay a change fee.

    great blog!

  16. Look, the WN ads are not targeted to most of you here. Most of us have some sort of status with a legacy and don’t pay change fees anyway.

    However, these ads resonate with large parts of the population that travel once or twice a year. No bag fees and no change fees are huge for the occassional traveler.

    That being said I would much rather fly WN than any legacy carrier on a domestic segment. To me time is money and as such WN makes a much better use of it than the legacies do.

    Two examples: Boston suburb to DC. I drove to PVD and went WN to BWI to train to DC. Co worker drove to BOS took DL Shuttle to DCA. I won by over an hour.

    Same coworker in first on US from PHL to Chicago, I was on WN. In PHL WN used runway 35 to get out while coworker sat in 45 min lineup to get out. Beat him to inner loop hotel by 100 mins even though he left 35 mins prior to me.

  17. @ Helixcardinal. That’s great to hear about UAL, but that must be a new policy. My brother-in-law was charged a total of $700 for changing his ticket seven times when our father-in-law was dying of cancer in 2007. That’s why he won’t fly UAL anymore.

    At AA (AMR), unless they’ve also changed their tune recently, it’s the same story. I was on a business trip to NorCal when my father was murdered. I was charged $125 to change my ticket and get back home. They allowed me to change the return date for free (because the fare allowed it) but insisted they had to collect the change fee. Later, when I spoke with the AAdvantage Platinum Desk, they confirmed the position of the SJC ticket agent and assured me they could not do anything to waive the fee. I have plenty of miles to use on AA over the next few years but when I pay to travel, I fly Southwest.

    FYI: As far as changing flights on the day of departure, it depends on what fare type (bucket) is available when you make the change on WN. I can fly from DAL to LAX, two hours from now, for $129. No advance purchase, no crazy change fees, no bag fees, just inventory controlled (i.e. not available when the flights are full/er. ). That’s much better than you’ll find on any Legacy carrier. The other big difference on WN, fares are all one way. If you’re going round trip, you’ll buy two one way tickets. That’s where some of the confusion come into play. And where you’ll find the loop holes in changing Legacy vs. WN.

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