Searching for low fares at Southwest


Southwest has a neat feature on their website called “Shortcut to low fares”. Basically, you select the departure and arrival cities, and it shows you a calendar view with the lowest fares for each day. This works great, except for one problem: there’s no way to display nonstop flights only.

Why does limiting the search to nonstop flights matter? First, many travelers only want to take direct flights. The availability and pricing for connecting flights is extra data they don’t want to see. And second, the lowest priced flight on many routes will be a connecting flight. So if you’re looking at the fare calendar for the lowest price and then see that only the connecting flights are that cheap, it can be a big letdown that ultimately leads you to abandon the transaction.

What’s the solution here? Southwest should add a checkbox on the fare calendar for “Show nonstop flights only”. In fact, they could really use this option across their entire website, since none of the search tools I’ve seen allow for that type of filtering. In doing so, I bet their conversion rates would increase, i.e. more of the people who start a flight search would actually continue on to purchase a ticket.