In today’s day and age, with demand ebbing and flowing and just beyond a global pandemic, airlines may cancel your flights unexpectedly.

And sometimes we have incidents like the ones Southwest has experienced over the last several years, with repeated disruptions that affect the majority of their flights.

I know having a flight delayed or canceled is incredibly frustrating. But if you’re looking for your rights and compensation if Southwest cancels your flight, I’ve got some information…

Here’s what to do if you have a flight on Southwest that THEY (not you) cancel. Listen to the podcast, watch the video below or keep reading…

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What to Do If Southwest Cancels Your Flight

Southwest plane gate; release March April flights

Southwest says they will reach out to you if they cancel your flight to let you know of the cancellation, and they may also reach out to provide a refund and some sort of compensation.

But we have found that is not necessarily the case for everyone. And if you’re caught in a major incident, it’s doubtful they will be able to reach out to every single person.

Be sure to check your flights and KEEP checking your flights for changes or cancellations.

Here’s the typical procedure…

They are first going to offer to re-book you to a different flight or a later time.

If you do accept a rebooking, ASK FOR A LUV VOUCHER PER PERSON at that time for the inconvenience.

We see vouchers ranging from $150 to as much as $1,500 depending on the level of the inconvenience. This likely depends on if you had to find a hotel room, rent a car, pay out of pocket to fly another airline, etc.

If you didn’t ask for your LUV voucher at the time of your cancellation, you can still reach out to them online later to request this.

If you don’t want to rebook or aren’t satisfied with the options they offer, they will first try and offer you a Southwest travel fund (basically a “credit”) that must be used by the same person.

The US Department of Transportation has mandated that Southwest provide you with a transferrable voucher of at least $75 for any cancellation or delay under their control that results in you reaching your destination 3 or more hours after your scheduled arrival. You can read more about this here.

Am I Entitled to a Refund If Southwest Cancels My Flight?

Southwest cancels flight

You ARE entitled to a full refund via your original method of payment EVEN if you booked a nonrefundable Wanna Get Away fare IF Southwest cancels the flight (and not you).

You will likely have to be the one to ask them for it, but you are entitled.

You should ALSO be refunded any associated fees by law like Early Bird, which is a fee that grants you earlier check-in than everyone else. 

Read a complete explanation of your rights if an airline cancels your flight on the Department of Transportation’s website HERE.

You may have to persist to get your refund, but keep at it. You ARE entitled to it!

Want to cancel a Southwest flight yourself?

Here’s how to do it…

What About Other Compensation for the Inconvenience?

Typically in these situations, Southwest gives $150-$250 LUV vouchers to affected individuals — one per passenger. It certainly never hurts to ask for more!

LUV vouchers are not the best thing to work with, and inside our Families Fly Free membership, we help with you with the best ways to utilize these as part of your Fly Free Plan that each person receives.

Unfortunately, they can be tricky and cannot be combined with points.

During the December 2022 disruptions, for example, Southwest offered all affected passengers 25,000 Southwest points to use to book free flights. 

These points DO NOT qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass or any other elite status, but Southwest points NEVER expire, so you can use them forever.

Every person in your party is entitled to these points, so make sure everyone gets them.

Inside of Families Fly Free membership, we teach you how to stretch Southwest points across MANY more flights and MANY more people. 

For example, most of you will be lucky to get one flight out of 25,000 points whereas we regularly have people flying 4 people round-trip for that same number of points.

These are all real examples (points are all round-trip totals)…

  • 15,000 points for 4 people to fly from Chicago to Las Vegas
  • 30,000 points for 4 people to fly from Chicago to Maui and from Portland to the Big Island of Hawaii
  • 30,000 points for 4 people to fly from Indianapolis to Orlando
  • 3,000 points per person from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and from Austin to Dallas
  • 300,000 points saved for a round-trip flight from Indianapolis to Kauai for 4
  • 100,000 points saved for a round-trip flight from Indianapolis to Orlando for 4

When you learn how to pay fewer points for every Southwest flight, you can take MORE people on MORE flights for the same number of points that everyone else is paying.

This is one of many skills you’ll learn as a part of my Fly Free Formula, the SIMPLE way to use travel rewards to fly your whole family for free, inside of the Families Fly Free membership.

If you were separated from your luggage as a result of a delay or cancellation, you can also get help at the above website.


How to Contact Southwest About Your Cancellation

Southwest plane taking off pastel colors

If Southwest doesn’t reach out to you, you should reach out to them via the Southwest Support Center.

I know Southwest’s phone lines can sometimes be an hours-long wait. Inside my Families Fly Free membership, we have an “insider” Southwest phone number for our members that helps them bypass long waits in these situations (and any time!) that works even better than the phone numbers given to those with Southwest elite status like A-List.

We’ve also got some insider tricks to let you move your flight date and times to better flights, days and times without paying a fare increase.

Other options include opening the app (here’s everything you need to know about the Southwest app) and seeing if online chat is available.

Twitter seems to also work well for people in terms of getting a quicker response. You can also try the online chat feature in the Southwest app if it’s available.

To chat with a Southwest agent on a computer, go to this Southwest page and you should see a blue chat box at the bottom righthand side.

[Learn more about Families Fly Free membership]

Our best wishes that you can get where you need to be without further disruption. And we hope this helps you get some help that you need.

If you’d like personal help through situations like this, as well as the ability to learn how to fly for free around the US, Caribbean and Europe, come join us inside Families Fly Free.

We also have some great tips to help you mitigate this risk, which is a risk with ANY airline these days. We have a strategy to pre-plan what to do in case of a Southwest delay or cancellation to still get you where you need to go the same day.

Stay safe and good luck rebooking your flight and getting your LUV vouchers!

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  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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