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Southwest Airlines joins Google Flights

Southwest Airlines joins Google Flights


Finally, there's something even more exciting about Google Flights. Southwest Airlines has joined the search engine.

Google's flight search engine is one of the most powerful tools for purchasing airfare, but historically it has been hampered by a lack of Southwest flights, which left users unable to fully understand the airfare to their desired destination.

But don't blame it on Google. The Dallas-based airline has long refrained from displaying or selling its fares through online travel agents or search aggregators. (One exception is Southwest Airlines' relationship with Chase, which allows some credit cardholders to book tickets through the Chase Travel Portal.)

But Southwest is currently undergoing a major digital transformation that will have far-reaching effects across the airline industry: As of May 22, the airline's fares will appear in Google Flights search results, just like other major U.S. airlines.

Southwest said in a statement that it is testing a partnership with Google that will allow Google Flights users to compare different fare options and then click directly to to book their selected itinerary.

Showing results on Google Flights is another evolution for airlines that have built customer loyalty for decades by toeing the line. Last month, his CEO at Southwest Airlines, Bob Jordan, said the airline was seriously considering potential alternatives to its long-standing open-seat policy. The company also plans to introduce late-night flights in the next few years.

What Southwest Airlines on Google Flights means for travelers

In fact, travelers can now easily compare flight prices between airlines at a glance, which is a boon for deal seekers around the world, said Kyle Potter, executive editor of deal site Thrifty Traveler.

“I really think this is a big deal for Southwest, for Google Flights and for travelers across the country,” he said. Southwest, by design, didn't list its fares for sale on Google or pretty much any other site because it didn't want to put royalties in the hands of middlemen.

Until now, the only way to book a Southwest flight was directly on the airline's website or app, so the biggest impact will be on travelers who wouldn't normally consider the airline.

Potter added that this will greatly increase awareness of Southwest Airlines for people who are just starting to search for flights and didn't realize they needed to check out separately.

Meanwhile, Southwest loyalists can take advantage of the powerful Google flight fare tracker. There are no change or cancellation fees, and passengers can toggle the fare tracker button to be notified via email if fares drop after booking. If they cancel and rebook their Southwest flight, they can receive a fare credit for the cheaper itinerary.

But don't expect the Google Flights news to hint at future plans. Southwest has said it has no plans to go all-in on third-party travel websites. Google Flights is not a booking engine, and this is not an entry into or move toward online travel agencies, an airline spokesman said.




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