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Don’t you just hate it when you leave money on the table? OK, maybe hate is too strong of a word, but would you rather have money in your pocket or give the airlines more money than you need to? We all know that airline ticket prices fluctuate, and so do the airlines! They don’t make it easy for us to catch the price drops and then rebook our tickets at lower prices. That brings us to Southwest Airlines, which has built a community by being different from other airlines.
Southwest Airlines has never allowed other websites to show their fares. They’ve always chosen to be the only sales outlet for their own flights. This means they are able to track and create a uniqueness in the way they serve Southwest Airlines flyers. I’ve read that some industry experts feel that it’s because Southwest Airlines does not always deliver the lowest fares all the time that they prefer to stay out of the comparisons. Instead, they provide an “everyday low price” value proposition. This could likely be the case, though in many markets, Southwest Airlines prices can actually be higher than full service carriers.
Southwest Airlines also distinguishes itself in that if your ticket price drops, both for paid flights and flights booked with Southwest Airlines points, you’ll get back the difference in the fare price. The process isn’t complicated, but YOU have to do the fare price checking and then of course, rebook the flight.
I like the expression “time is money” because I often find it to be true, especially in the miles/points world. I apply my “time is money” thinking to booking my award tickets with Juicy Miles. I often feel like spending some money to save both time AND money is a double win. I’ve had my frustrations with Southwest Airlines rules and regulations that’s for sure. So anything I can do to save me from having to check for price drops on Southwest Airlines is a win for me.
Enter Southwest Monkey. It’s a relatively new alert service available only for Southwest Airlines. Their website is simple and easy to use. You set up alerts on all the Southwest Airlines tickets you’ve booked and if the price drops, you’ll receive an email alert. If the price drops by more than $10, you’ll be charged their $3 fee. You rebook the Southwest Airlines flight yourself. This takes the pain point out of the equation because you no longer need to fuss about getting the lowest fare possible, and secondly it’s no longer necessary to continually check your Southwest Airlines fares for savings.
I reached out to Pavel, one of the co-founders of Southwest Monkey, with questions I had and aspects of the service I wanted to understand better. He’s a nice guy and very responsive. Here’s what Pavel told me:
“Our site has been running for a few months now. We don’t have data yet on how often airline prices fluctuate, but we are keeping track of overall savings per user, % of flights that decrease in price, and other similar information. Our website is functional and intuitive enough to make the point of our service clear, without overburdening the customer with a ton of information. There is beauty in simplicity and we would like to keep our webpage as simple as possible.”
I asked Pavel why they started with Southwest Airlines, rather than including other airlines such as Alaska Airlines and JetBlue. Pavel said:
“There are lots of reasons to start with Southwest. Since they don’t allow aggregators to track their fares it’s more complicated to watch for decreases in fare prices. They also don’t have change fees at all, while Alaska and JetBlue wave them only in certain conditions. We love Southwest and use our own service! Southwest has built a community that we hope will find our services valuable.”
I wondered if Pavel felt there was any competition for their services because I seemed to remember TripIt Pro allowed alerts for tracking fare prices. Pavel said:
“Our main competitor is manual checking, rather than a single company in particular. Since we are charging for our service, not everyone will be interested to pay for something they can do themselves. We are offering convenience rather than solving a problem that users cannot solve themselves. You are right though; we are not unique in our approach — TripIt Pro checks for potential refunds as well, but it focuses primarily on major airlines, while we focus on Southwest.”
The question I always ask myself about services like this is, “What have I got to lose?” The bottom line here is… very little. If I’m already going to check for fare drops on my Southwest Airlines flights, why not let Southwest Monkey do it for me. I like companies like this, as well as Pruvo in the hotel space, that are making it so easy for me to NOT leave money on the table.
What’s your take on this service? If you regularly check your Southwest Airlines tickets for price drops, will you now use a service like this? If you haven’t been good about checking for fare decreases, will you now start by using Southwest Monkey? I’m in this camp and see it as an easy step to now include each time I book a Southwest Airlines ticket.