There’s One Major Airline You Couldn’t Find on Google Flights—Until Now

A change in policy will help travelers with comparison flight shopping.

An airplane wing with the sun shining and thick clouds below

This is going to make browsing for flights so much easier.

Photo by BABAROGA/Shutterstock

Big news from Southwest Airlines this week as the airline changed a long-standing policy and allowed its fares to be listed on a third-party website for the first time. Travelers will now be able to find Southwest flight pricing and details on Google Flights, a move the carrier calls a “pilot partnership.”

“We’re extending the reach of by giving users of Google Flights enhanced visibility into our available flights, fares, and the benefits of our products and services,” a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement to Afar.

All of Southwest’s more than 800 domestic and international flight routes and pricing will now be displayed in searches on Google Flights, but users will still have to go to the Southwest Airlines website to purchase the flights. Google Flights is not a third-party booking site like Expedia or; instead, it serves as a travel search engine and users are sent directly to airline websites to make the final booking.

The change in policy comes as Southwest faces financial challenges, reporting losses earlier this year amid promises from CEO Bob Jordan to shake things up at the airline. Southwest has already announced changes like the elimination of some unprofitable routes, and it may even reconsider its industry-unique no-seat-assignment boarding process.

Southwest on Google Flights

Southwest Airlines’ full array of flights and pricing are now listed on Google Flights searches beside other airlines in the website’s standard format.

A screenshot of a Google Flights search for flights from San Francisco to Los Angeles displaying a Southwest flight in the third spot

When you search for flights using Google’s search engine, Southwest options are now displayed.

Courtesy of Google Flights

Once users click on the Southwest Airlines option, Google Flights displays the selected route and price along with other Southwest pricing for that flight. The Google Flights search function finds the lowest available Southwest fare (typically the “Wanna Get Away” discounted option). Once users click on the fare, a second page will also include other ticketing options including “Wanna Get Away Plus” with priority boarding and “Anytime” fully refundable fares.

A screenshot of a Google Flights breakdown of Southwest booking options

Google Flights even breaks down the different booking options Southwest offers, which then leads a user to the Southwest website to finalize the flight reservation.

Screenshot of a Google Flights Southwest booking

If users click on the “Continue” button, they are taken directly to Southwest Airlines’ website to book the flight.

Google Flights’ price-tracking button is enabled on the Southwest fare page, meaning travelers will get notifications should the price on a given flight drop after purchasing or searching the fare. Given Southwest’s no-penalty flight change policy, this will give travelers a great tool for price protection.

What this means for travelers

Southwest Airlines’ agreement with Google Flights will better help travelers comparison shop across airlines. Previously, users would have to do two separate searches to compare Southwest flight pricing against other airlines. Having Southwest’s low fares—combined with its policy of no checked luggage fees—listed beside other airlines may introduce some downward pricing pressures for other airlines on these routes, benefiting all fliers.

Some industry observers see Southwest’s change in policy to be a sign of more changes to come for the airline. “We know that Southwest has been late to the table on tech innovations and hasn’t been faring the best financially compared to the other big three competitors [United, American, and Delta], so it’s no wonder significant changes were teased during the last investor call,” Katy Nastro, spokesperson for airline deals website told Afar. “Finally displaying [its inventory] on Google Flights just may be one of those changes that was alluded to,” she added.

However, Southwest is still not listing its flights on other flight aggregator shopping and booking websites like Kayak, Expedia, and Skyscanner. This could be because the airline wants to maintain control and ownership of its customer information and be able to upsell travelers on items like hotels, vacation packages, rental cars, and its credit card.

Southwest’s website-only purchase process does help to keep a consistent service product for customers, with the airline saying that it “offers the digital experience our existing customers and members of Rapid Rewards know well for account management and reservation servicing.”

Bill Fink is a freelance travel writer for outlets including AARP, BBC Travel, Frommer’s, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Outside, SF Chronicle, and Yahoo Travel. Among many writing awards, Bill won Lowell Thomas Golds for Investigative Journalism and Newspaper Travel, and his stories have been included in The Best of Lonely Planet Travel Writing, Travelers’ Tales Best Travel Writing, and The Best American Travel Writing.
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