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Your Rights If Southwest Cancels Your Flight & Compensation You Can Expect

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 throughout 2021 and 2022, most notably over the December 2022 holidays, with repeated disruptions that affect the majority of their flights.

For all of you affected by this, I am so sorry!

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…

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Here’s what to do if you have a flight on Southwest that THEY (not you) cancel.


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What to Do If Southwest Cancels Your Flight

Southwest cancelled flight
Credit: Southwest Airlines, Stephen M Keller


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.

There have been SO many people affected of late.

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.

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.

Inside my Families Fly Free membership, we have a “secret” 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.

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.

But if you’d prefer a full refund, you ARE entitled to it…


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, 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 from 2021 and 2022 (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.

Also during the December 2022 Southwest delays and cancellations, Southwest offered to reimburse passengers for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result, for meals, accommodations, car rentals and more.

You can request reimbursement and a refund for your flight on the Southwest Travel Disruption page.

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


I know Southwest’s phone lines can sometimes be an hours-long wait.

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

We also have a “secret” phone number we only share with Families Fly Free members that allows you to bypass the often hours-long wait these days.

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.


[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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16 thoughts on “Your Rights If Southwest Cancels Your Flight & Compensation You Can Expect”

  1. This event has only high lighted the SCAM SW has been doing with the Early Bird fee which can amount to up to $100.00 round trip for 2 people for some timer now. If you cancel your flight and do not re-book it you loose you $ 100.00. I strongly feel that there should be a Class Action Lawsuit started on behalf of the folks who are being taken advantage by this action.

  2. SW canceled my connecting flight, sent me re book link while I was on the first plane. When I got off plane and went to re book it kept giving an error. By the time the new flights loaded NOTHING was available and me and my child had to sit in the Houston Airport for over 10 hours because I had to purchase a flight from a different airline so we could get home. No options online to re book a flight that SW canceled. Flight status clearly shows connecting flight is canceled but does not give option to re book. There needs to be an update made for this!! If the airline is canceling flights we need to be able to re book these as soon as the canceled notification comes to our phones/emails. The customer service line DOES NOT ANSWER! I NEED A REFUND ON MY CONNECTING FLIGHT FOR ME AND MY DAUGHTER!

    • Hi Brittnay,
      I’m so sorry that happened to you! It sounds like a lot of people were left stranded Monday and Tuesday. I agree there does need to be an option to help you rebook right away. I have no affiliation with Southwest; I just write about them a lot. But in these cases, I have typically seen Southwest be very generous. I’m sure it will take them a few days to sort all this out since so many people were affected, but I expect they will well compensate you. If you’re not able to get them on the phone, try going into the Southwest app and seeing if the online chat feature is available. You can can also try sending them a message through Southwest.com. Good luck!

  3. Southwest canceled my flight to San Diego at midnight. Now I can’t fly out until 7:50 pm the next night . What a mess my car rental and hotel were accommodating. Still not sure if I’ll get to fly out on a 2 hr phone time to hopefully see if I can get out sooner. . This is so irritating my vacation is messed up

    • Yes a lot of people are struggling with canceled flights right now. Sorry you are having trouble! My best suggestion is to ask for a $100 LUV voucher per person from Southwest when you go to rebook your flight. It’s best to do it then, but if you don’t do it then, you can request it online later. That is what they seem to be giving everyone. We also have a “secret” number inside my Families Fly Free membership to help you bypass the hours-long wait everyone else is experiencing when they call to rebook. Good luck!

  4. I need to go home, My flight has been canceled twice, third try tomorrow morning. Don’t know if should look into other companies or are they all having issues as well?

      1. So sorry you were having trouble Kim. All the airlines seem to be struggling right now between weather and staffing. I recommend when flying Southwest these days to get travel insurance as the right policy will allow you to book with another airline so you can attempt to get to where you need to go when you need to go and be reimbursed. Southwest is the BEST airline to fly free, but they won’t typically pay for you to fly another airline. They’ll only get you rebooked on another of their flights, which could be days.
  5. Waiting, Waiting, Day three at BLI and they have a Plane but no crew, how does that happen. They stated that they are looking for a crew to fly the plane. No food and very little information.

    • So sorry you’ve had such a long delay, Drew. We’re seeing reports of delays and staffing issues after the big storm. I’d recommend trying to call Southwest to see if they have any additional information. Hopefully you’ll be on your way to your destination soon!

  6. My cousins flight got canceled on Thursday with no options to get her back. She is a person with disabilities and is flying by herself. We need to figure out how to get her home. If we rebook her on another flight, since there are so many cancelations, would we be refunded the amount of the ticket purchased at the other company since this whole cancelation is due to “operational issues?” The last minute ticket purchases are beyond expensive right now.

    • Chrys, I’m so sorry that your cousin is going through this! Unfortunately in this case she would not be refunded the cost of purchasing a ticket on another airline unless she has a travel insurance policy that covers it. She would be refunded by Southwest if Southwest canceled her flight. Here’s the link to do that: https://www.southwest.com/traveldisruption/ I hope she’s able to get home soon!

  7. Southwest canceled my flight twice, and now I won’t be able to get to work for a week. Will southwest reimburse me for not getting paid for a week as well as the extended parking fees at the airport?


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