[UPDATED] How Southwest Almost Overcharged Me THOUSANDS of Points to Change Flights

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Passengers board a Southwest 737 at Hollywood Burbank Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank, California.

Heads up, Southwest travelers. Hopefully it’s a glitch (or payback for my teasing them) but the airline of LUV quoted me two wildly different prices to change an award flight.

Quick Backstory

My family and I have an upcoming trip to Las Vegas for a friend’s birthday party.

We opted to fly Southwest from Burbank instead of Delta out of LAX for a few reasons:

  • LAX is a disaster right now (more than usual). Flying to Vegas from LAX would take longer than driving.
  • BUR is closer to our house. And much simpler.
  • I had Rapid Rewards points to burn, thanks to one of my clients who nearly always books us contractors on Southwest
Southwest 737s are parked at gates at Hollywood Burbank Airport / Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California. (BUR)

Southwest 737s at Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR)

I had enough Rapid Rewards points for one round trip, so I used them for my reservation. My wife and daughter booked using a separate Rapid Rewards account topped off with enough points thanks to a Chase Sapphire Reserve Ultimate Rewards transfer.

We originally planned to leave on a Thursday morning and return on a Saturday night.

A change in plans dictated we return home Sunday instead.

Changing Our Flights

I logged on to the Southwest app. Changes varied from about 4,000 Rapid Rewards to over 14,000. One way.

I wasn’t sure how many Rapid Rewards points were available for my wife and daughter to change their flights. When logged on to Southwest’s website, I saw drastically lower prices. Like, anywhere from a high of about 8,000 — to a low of points refunded.

I called Southwest and explained to the rep the different prices between the app and website.

“That’s weird,” she said.

The only prices she had available were the ones on Southwest’s website. She helped us process the changes and all was fine.

Still, though, the discrepancy stymied me.

Checking Back with Southwest

I checked my reservation again yesterday on the Southwest app and website. My logons took place within about five seconds of each other.

Here’s what I saw when I selected the “change flight” options for the same PNR with only one person to return on the same Sunday in question:

Fare differences between the Southwest Airlines app and Southwest Airlines website.

(For privacy purposes, I redacted dates and some other information. René has seen the original picture and can verify the dates and other travel information match.)

The 7:00 AM flight would run me a minimum of 6,507 Rapid Rewards if I used the app. On the website, however, I’d be credited 1,452 points. The 10:50 AM option runs 11,949 on the app — but just 3,990 on Southwest.com.

Worth pointing out that these prices are for the Wanna Get Away options. None of the prices on the app match anything on website.

I got in touch with a contact at Southwest. According to my source, the Rapid Rewards people said there should not be any difference between the app and website.

I sent the picture to the good folks at Southwest’s Twitter team. The rep’s response?

“That’s odd.”

She showed me the prices she had available — which were the same ones published on the website.

Always Compare Prices

I guess the moral of the story is to compare prices — between Southwest’s own app and website.

What Do You Think?

Several people have examined the photo. My wife and father-in-law saw in person the differences between the app and website.

Is there something I’m missing?

Was Southwest trying to exact revenge on me for some of the snarky things I’ve said about them?

Or are they hoping more people use the app — and pony up more points?

Please share your thoughts in the Comment section below! — Chris


Some commenters offered help.

The app displays the new total cost. The website displays just the difference.

So I was incorrect: Southwest was not trying to overcharge me.

However, I don’t understand why Southwest displays one figure on their app and another on their website. They should adjust one of them so their figures are the same across the board. Even Delta’s IT gets this right!

What also is interesting is the Southwest phone and Twitter reps weren’t aware of these display discrepancies.

Leave it to our readers to know the correct answer! Thanks, gang!