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Old 08-23-2007, 02:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Southwest child fare - worth the trouble? - my question is up front, VERY long explanation follows!

So I was playing around on the Southwest website yesterday, looking at when the next batch of flight dates would be released, reading various bits of information, etc. (I was bored!) and I noticed that it mentioned infant, child and youth fares. I was intrigued - anyway to save some money gets my attention!

Anybody ever go to the trouble of getting a child's fare? And how much was the discount?

Well, that was the question I had. If anybody feels like reading further, here's the procedure I'd have to go through:

Child fares are for ages 2-11 but not available online. You have to call them directly, which is fine, but then right before I got offline I read the fine print (on another page of their site) that the child fares are a discount off the refundable (full-price) ticket price, not any of the other discounted tickets. Looking at the best available prices I've received over the past few months, they'd have to knock 1/3 off that ticket price to make up the difference, or else it would just be easier to buy the internet-rate adult ticket for Joshua (currently 5, will be 6 at time of trip).

From reading online, I've gathered this info: a child flying on a child fare ticket cannot check in (get a boarding pass) online until they have been age-verified. To do this, you have to set up a rapid rewards account for them, so that they can be in Southwest's computer system. Then you must show a photo ID at the gate the first time the child flies. After that first flight, they will code his birthday on his rapid rewards account as "verified" and then we can check him in online.

To get Joshua a photo ID from the Mississippi DMV I would have to get a certified copy of his birth certificate and take him to the DMV office to fill out an application and get the ID, but they can't do a photo ID until the child turns 6 (Feb 28 for Joshua). They also charge the regular driver's license issuance fee of $13.

If I want to check him in online prior to his first flight (which we prefer to do to get a good boarding pass) I would have to mail a copy of his photo ID to Southwest about 2 months prior to the flight, and then wait for them to send me a confirmation letter back. Plus, mailing something like that, I would prefer to send it certified mail, so there's that extra fee tacked on.

Lots of steps to go through, but if we could come out ahead money-wise, it's worth it, and we've got plenty of time to take care of all of it. Remember, guys, every dollar I save on airfare can be put into my secret surprise Wilderness Lodge upgrade account!

Eventually I will call Southwest and see what kind of discount they are offering, but I was just wondering if any of you had any experience with this, to offer a first-hand account of your story. Also, since I hadn't read about child fares on here, I didn't know how many people even knew they could do this? I've been assuming all this time that if any person took up a seat they had to pay the same adult rate. Except for senior citizens, since Southwest clearly shows the discount option for them. Wonder why they can't offer the infant/child/youth discounts online? They would of course still have to verify the child's age prior to the flight, is it just they don't want people to know about the discount?

I'll keep you posted with whatever else we find out.

P.S. The infant rates are for children under 2, when the parents prefer to use a child safety restraint in a separate seat, rather then hold the child in their lap for the entire flight, which would be free. The child rates are for children 2-11. The youth rates are for children 12-21.
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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They used to post the child rates a couple of years ago (online)

We could always get a better deal (usually with a DING) on the regular fare and never bothered with the child fare. Too much of a hassle, IMO and if you've got DING, you're probably better off
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My goodness, that sounds like an awful lot of trouble. The discounts would have to be worth it. I'm wondering, to get the Senior rate, do you have to jump through hoops like you do for a child rate?
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by wishes View Post
My goodness, that sounds like an awful lot of trouble. The discounts would have to be worth it. I'm wondering, to get the Senior rate, do you have to jump through hoops like you do for a child rate?
I wasn't sure, so I went and looked it up.

Yes and No.

Easier: You can purchase a Senior-rate ticket directly from the website, rather than calling Southwest.

Same Procedure: To get your boarding pass online for your first flight, you still have to have a Rapid Rewards or My Southwest account with them, then show photo ID at the gate to verify your age. You can send them a copy of the ID in the mail if you prefer, so you can be age-verified prior to your first flight and get your boarding pass online.

Easier: Unlike a child, most Seniors will already have a photo ID of some type, so they wouldn't have to make a special trip to the DMV.



Marnie: interesting they used to put the child fares online. Wonder why they quit?
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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My parents (in their 80's) love to fly southwest because it saves them money, and they get the senior discount, and they can cancel with no problem. They must have gotten ID'd at some point, because they have no tolerance for the kind of stuff you listed for the kids' fare. Gosh... what a bunch of hoops!
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I had called Southwest for an infant fare a couple of months ago and the rate was much, much higher than the internet rate was. So they told me just to buy that one. So I did! I had no idea what a hassle it was though. They never got into all that info with me.

Also, Mississippi DL is only $13???!! Here in California it's $27!
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:43 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Also, Mississippi DL is only $13???!! Here in California it's $27!
Consider yourselves lucky. Here in MA, a driver's license costs $45!
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Old 08-24-2007, 07:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It's not worth the trouble - only worthwhile if full fare tickets are the only thing that is left. We have called the number before for military discounts and then ended up with child discount for our kids but that was just off full fare. I'd go ahead and book the discount tickets then no worries or hassles.
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for letting me know your experiences ... sounds like the internet fare is the way to go. Now if they would only release the dates quicker ...
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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OMG that sounds like a lot of trouble. How much $ are you actually saving? We've always bought DD (8 yo) a regular ticket, even when she was really young.
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Old 08-27-2007, 08:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It made me a little crazy just READING the procedure, let alone actually doing all that to get the discount on the one ticket. I'd skip it and just go with the online deals.
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Old 08-28-2007, 09:16 AM   #12 (permalink)
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If you think you'll be flying SWA a lot, the long term savings might be worth it. If this is a one-shot deal, I'd say forget it.
Sounds like a royal pain to me. DD got her first frequent flyer acct (on Continetal) at 6 wks old and we've never had to jump through hoops like that!
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:04 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So, after hearing your experiences with obtaining (or not) a child fare, I decided just to go ahead and call them to check on it, even though our trip isn't until late June. I asked if the child fare was a set percentage discount, or if it varied. I was then asked to provide the departure airport and the arrival airport, but not a date. Then I was told that the child fare would be $164.40. Excuse me, but that is practically the exact same charge as the regular fare refundable ticket - where's the discount? I didn't bother asking, since tickets are not available for our dates yet, but it appears to be worthless! Just thought I'd let you know ...
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for the info Christie I agree the discount wasn't much of anything, which is why we never pursued it Better off with a DING fare (or just a normal internet fare)
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Old 01-27-2011, 08:19 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I know this is an old thread but was hoping someone could help me. We are flying Southwest in a couple months. I have bought the adult tickets for my three children and want to make sure I understand the southwest policy in regards to online check-in 24 hours in advance. Since I bought them adult tickets, I do NOT have to do the age-verification, and I CAN, indeed, check in online for all of us 24 hours in advance, correct?
Also, this is our first time flying in 11 years--there are no "paper" tickets when flying SouthWest, correct? Just your email confirmation and boarding pass printed off 24 hours in advance?
Thanks for the help!
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