Southwest Airlines Begins Enforcing 'No-Show' Policy

8:00 PM, Sep 17, 2013   |    comments
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Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

Southwest Airlines has begun to enforce its new no-show policy.

The airline still lets customers make changes to their tickets at no charge. But passengers now must make those changes at least 10 minutes prior to their originally scheduled flights. If they do not, they risk losing the value of their ticket.

Previously, fliers could simply not show up and then contact the airline later to use the remaining funds toward a new flight.

That meant fliers had little incentive to cancel prior to flying, denying Southwest a chance to resell those seats to other passengers.

Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins tells The Dallas Morning News no-shows were only "a minority of customers, but some people do it habitually."

The new policy first went into effort for Friday's flights. With that, customers who buy nonrefundable tickets - including Southwest's "Wanna Get Away" fares - now must cancel at least 10 minutes before departure. If they do, they can then reuse the remaining funds from their itineraries toward a new flight.

"It's in the customers' control," Hawkins says to the Morning News. "They just have to let us know."

What hasn't changed: Southwest customers still may make changes to nonrefundable tickets ahead of time without penalty. Most other big U.S. carriers charge a $200 change fee.

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