Travel tips

If you use Charles Schwab and want to guarantee you get reimbursed on ATM fees, save the receipt if possible.

When I went on my trip to Germany, I noticed I only got $8 back in ATM fees when I know I spent more than that. Luckily, I save a receipt from an ATM transaction my checkings account definitely missed and told customer services about it. It was only $2, but those small fees can rack up easily. Try to save the receipts if you can, even if you have plans while traveling. When you get back (or want to do them while traveling), you can always check if you missed them or not

Sometimes it's much cheaper to book from a major hub and buy connections separately. (Or, it sure doesn't cost $600 to get to LAX)

Club Lounges are totally worth it for long layovers.

If you have a really long layover but don't have the time to leave the airport, look into those "executive club lounge" type things that many airlines offer at major airports. I had a 5 hour layover in Denver and opted to drop the $50 for a day pass to the club lounge. It's more than paid for itself - food, drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic!), coffee, comfy seats, wifi, power outlets, peace and quiet...Considering how likely you are to pay big bucks at the airport anyway for some food and drinks, it might be worth looking into this option!

Southwest does not have a true business class or first class

Most airlines have a separate cabin for business class or first class with nicer, more comfy seating — but not Southwest. Every seat is virtually the same and there are no rows dedicated for premier seating. Southwest does have “Business Select” fare which offers priority security/check-in, flexible cancellation, a free premium drink, and priority boarding (A1 to A15) but you’re not given a seat with more legroom or comfort. It also comes with additional perks like better earning rate and you can click here to find out if if Business Select if worth it for you.

Southwest serves secondary airports

One of the potential drawbacks to Southwest’s network is that they serve a lot of secondary airports. For example, in Houston, Southwest serves Hobby (HOU) instead of George Bush Intercontinental (IAH). This often means going without nice airport lounges or other amenities but also means traveling through smaller airports that are often easier to get in and out of.

  • You can search routes and airpots served here.

Southwest is the largest “point to point” operator in the US

Southwest is the largest “point-to-point” operator in the US. This means that it’s extra easy to find direct flights to many destinations versus other airlines who operate with more of a true hub model. If you hate extra flying, Southwest could offer you an escape!

Get the best Southwest credit card offers

As I just mentioned, Southwest credit cards offer different types of bonuses all of the time — we’ve seen offers range from 25,000 points to 60,000 points for these cards! Try to seek out the best offers for the business Southwest credit card and for the personal cards like the Southwest Premier and Southwest Plus. While you are limited to one personal card, it is possible to get a personal card and a business card but I would wait 30 days in-between applications. Also note that if a higher offer comes out within 90 days of you applying, ask Chase to match you to the higher offer and they usually will! Almost the entire Southwest Airlines fleet consists of 737-700s and 737-800s. In fact, Southwest is the largest operator of the Boeing 737 worldwide! This means you can expect virtually the same flight experience each flight. If you like to seek out extra leg room or upgrade to business select in order to snag the emergency exit rows with more room, knowing which type of plane will be flying is key since the 737-800s have an extra “2-person row.” You can see the difference between the two seat maps below. The 737-800 (pictured on the right) is bigger and has more seats with extra legroom. Some seats might have limited recline or bad window views, though. You can read more about the specific differences between Southwest seats here. Also, be sure to read how to find the best seat on southwest.

Get the Southwest Companion Pass

The biggest tip I could ever offer if you want to maximize value with Southwest, is to look into getting the Southwest Companion Pass. This allows a companion to fly for free with you on any Southwest flights for up to two years! The Companion Pass can easily be obtained by getting two credit cards from Chase. The Chase Southwest cards come with bonuses with as much as 80,000 Rapid Rewards. Since you only 125,000 Rapid Rewards (or 100 one-way qualifying flight flights) for the Southwest Companion Pass, this allows you to instantly obtain the Companion Pass! That pass can be worth well over $3,000 so if you’re looking to save money with Southwest, definitely consider this.

Southwest has a unique boarding method

You do not select or get assigned a specific seat for Southwest flights. Instead, you check-in at exactly 24 hours before the flight and then you are assigned to a number in either Group A, B, or C. Starting with Group A, each group will board the plane in order based on the number each passenger received at check-in. It’s a surprisingly efficient process but does cause some people worry that they can’t select their seat when they purchase their ticket. You can read more about the boarding process here.

Saving seats on Southwest

There’s long running debates about whether or not you should be allowed to save seats on Southwest. Although I think it’s acceptable to save seats within reason, it’s something you typically want to avoid if you can. However, if you need to save seats for several passengers, people are much more understanding if your saved seats are near the back of the plane. Trying to save a row of seats up front is practically begging for confrontation.