[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

UPDATE, 7:41 AM PDT

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!

–C

Post-Independence Day Thoughts: Being a Travel Loyalty Program “Free Agent”

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Handsome young man is standing near the panoramic window in airport terminal with suitcase while waiting for the flight.

©iStock.com/Vasyl Dolmatov

While my friends, family, and I enjoyed some Fourth of July festivities Thursday (and rode out an earthquake!) the subject of travel inevitably came up. Continue reading

Gayle King, Delta “Angels” and “Life Savers,” Heathrow’s “Forgotten People” and Smells Like Spirit

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’s Points for Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

What a week!

I hope you’re enjoying the long, holiday weekend. It was a big, busy week for us at Rene’s Points!

René waxed nostalgic about his eight years of blogging, William Shatner tweeted us, Delta is planning to “Wow” Main Cabin customers. Oh, and a passenger tried to breach a Delta cockpit and make “San Juan…disappear.”

All in a week’s work, I guess.

In case you missed anything or want to read a post again, here’s the week that was!

Even though it was a short week for many, the travel news world was still in full force.

There were plenty of Delta happenings this week: (more) new routes added, earnings reports, cargo news, and a few other stories:

Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200, tail number N535US, parked at Terminal 3 at Los Angeles International Airport - LAX - California.

Here are some more pieces that caught my eye and I thought would interest you, too:

And, finally, with *ahem* All Apologies to Nirvana, something smells like Spirit…

What are your plans this holiday weekend? Traveling anywhere? What have been your experiences at airports, hotels, and on the road? Please tell us in the Comment section below.

And if there’s a big travel news story I missed, please add it below with a link to the story.

— Chris

Las Vegas to San Juan $577 & 9144 MQMs 6CPM Weekday Delta Elite Mileage Run

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’s Points for Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.

  Saturday, November 28, 2015 by John @laptoptravel

A Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Route Map

Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Route Map

B Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Kayak fares

Las Vegas to San Juan Puerto Rico Kayak fares

C Las Vegas to San Juan Purto Rico Delta Airlines

Las Vegas to San Juan Purto Rico Delta Airlines


Let me follow-up my last Mileage Run post (which was San Diego to San Juan) with another trip headed to the warm, sunny shores of San Juan, Puerto Rico. This may not have the same appeal for Californians as for those stuck in the harsher northern climates, but it is still MQM’s on the cheap. Perhaps many of you could reposition to Las Vegas to take advantage of this, or to San Diego to hop on that other Mileage Run starting from there and get your MQM’s in before the year’s end.

Now, let us look at our second Mileage Run to San Juan.

Again, Delta is being very difficult when it comes to pushing some fare prices through. I worked the numbers and had this fare down to $415 but Delta (again, like with my previous post) keeps tossing me out when trying to book at that price. You can find cheaper flights to SJU, however not for the same MQM’s, thereby driving your costs up, so be cautious.

This is a variant of the Los Angeles to San Juan Mileage Run (my earlier post) and piggybacks off many of those flights. Fly out of Las Vegas and head through Los Angeles. You get to leave in the late afternoon connect easily through LAX on this route. You get the LAX to JFK Transcontinental flight segment (in both directions.) If you still have some Global Upgrade or Regional Upgrade Certificates you might choose to use them here on this run. You should read René’s latest post on using Regional Upgrades first if you are considering this…

You arrive in the early afternoon in San Juan so you can relax on the beach day and enjoy San Juan and an overnight. You have a broad range of hotels to choose from near the airport, from really inexpensive (what I call layover) hotels to 5-Star resorts. After you night in SJU you depart the next morning and arrive back in Las Vegas late the same evening.

There are several dates open in December for this run, although the cheapest date is depart Monday, December 7th, arrive SJU on Tuesday the 8th and depart on Wednesday, the 9th.

The Details:

MQM’s: 9144 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQM’s)

Ticket Price:     $577

6.3 Cents Per Mile (CPM)

Bookable on Delta.com

A total of six segments, here is your routing: LAS-LAX-JFK-SJU-JFK-LAX-LAS

(Monday’s Dec 7th) DIRECT KAYAK BOOKING LINK

Please LOGIN first you your Delta.com account before clicking any links. The, once you are signed into your Delta.com account then click on the desired link from above and then choose your flights by pressing SELECT on the flights displayed that match the Mileage Run I have posted. You will then be taken directly into a Delta window where you can see the flights, the miles, the cost and Purchase the ticket!

In looking at the best connections, you need to put that LAX-JFK in your outbound and JFK-LAX in your return to maximize your MQM’s – John @laptoptravel