If you want to know how much it costs to take a Southwest flight, there’s only one way to find out.
Southwest doesn’t let third party apps like Google Flights, Expedia, Kayak or other travel agencies share or sell its fares. While it’s a bit more aggressive than most, Southwest isn’t alone in trying to get customers to shop direct, as many airlines will offer discounts if you book through their site.
There’s several reasons why airlines prefer you shop through them. They have to pay a referral fee for a website like Kayak, and when you shop directly through them, they get the opportunity to further market other services, like credit cards and vacation packages.
But while airlines might prefer you shop directly, this is another case where a company’s preferences are at odds with a consumer’s preference.
Southwest (LUV) – Get Free Report has a reputation for high quality customer service, although many employees are complaining that management is currently harming that. But while some customers will prioritize a specific airline for better service, it’s well known in the industry that the thing most people gravitate towards is the cheapest possible ticket, and sites like Kayak or Travelocity make that much easier.
But now, an app making team has made it easier to find Southwest flights, assuming you know how to use Google (GOOG) – Get Free Report.
Meet The Wanderlog App
The new Google Chrome extension Wanderlog will, once installed to your browser, automatically pull in Southwest fare information to any Google Flights search, which is the company’s flight booking search service. “Where ‘price unavailable’ once was, you’ll now see fares from Southwest, too” notes The Thrifty Traveler.
The app comes from the same team behind the Wanderlog travel planning app, which lets users share notes and maps.
You can find the app on Google Chrome Store by searching for “Wanderlog” or just head to the Wanderlog extension page. At the moment, you will need to enter specific airport codes, and not city names.
There are a handful of issues to watch out for with using the app, which include:
- Thrifty Traveler found a few instances where Wanderlog pulled in a price that doesn’t reflect what’s actually available at Southwest.com.
- Wanderlog can’t display the Southwest price in Google Flight’s price calendar. This means that dates for which Southwest is selling the cheapest fares won’t be reflected in Google Flights’ signature green highlight.
- Wanderlog is currently only available in English.
Is Southwest Going To Be Cool With This?
Peter Xu, Wanderlog’s co-founder who helped create the app, admitted in an interview with Thrifty Traveler that he didn’t get the airline’s permission before he got to work.
“We love using Southwest. We think they’re one of the most consumer friendly airlines out there these days,” Xu said. “This is really what people are already doing. The data is just going between Southwest and your browser, just as if you were browsing. It’s really technically no different.”
Xu noted that Wanderlog is simply doing what a costumer does when they search with Southwest and then compare it to with Google searches of other fares, so he doesn’t think there’s any reason to worry that Southwest could shut down the app. – “unless Southwest does a major redesign of their website.”
Presumably, anything that makes your product easier for the consumer to find and purchase is a good thing. But sometimes companies have priorities that might not make sense from the outside.
So if Southwest has decided that keeping its fares in-house is of utmost importance, the company presumably has enough lawyers that they would shut the app down if it so chooses.