Southwest has incredible group rates for flights and a good group travel program in general. I took a picture of our tickets that arrived via FedEx after we paid the balance in full.
There will be 20 people on the same flight!!
And, since 20 out of 30 of our wedding guests needed flights between Colorado and Florida, we managed to purchase many (but not all) of our tickets at a group rate and have some people pay us back.
We did this because the wedding cruise is scheduled in very close proximity to Christmas which is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year, and we didn’t want anyone getting stuck with an extremely expensive ticket.
By booking a group fare with Southwest, we were able to essentially freeze our fares as soon as they became available since the terms of Southwest group reservations are so incredibly flexible. DON’T QUOTE ME ON THIS and call the Southwest group travel department for the exact details, but those terms are roughly as follows at the time of writing this:
First, as long as you are booking a reservation for more than 10 people, you don’t need to pay anything or give any names to reserve your group. At something like 75 days prior to departure you have to pay a 10% deposit.
You can still change anything you want for a full refund of the 10% including canceling the entire reservation if you want until the final payment is due about 30 days prior to departure.
There are only a few drawbacks to Southwest’s program.
First, Southwest like some other airlines, doesn’t release fares or allow reservations until 6 months prior to departure, so you may have to pass up a lower fare on another airline before that time while you are waiting for Southwest fares to come out.
We were a little tense about our airfare budget until those fares were published.
Southwest has pretty good fares to start with, but the discount you get on the group fare is off of the full price ticket so it works out to be the same as what you would spend booking a single seat online.
You also have to be careful of adding additional people to the group reservation. You will only be able to add more people at the fare available at the time you add them (full fare price minus group discount). So, it is better to reserve a couple more seats if you think you are going to need them because you can always cancel them before making the full payment.
Other than that, I am sure there are more situations where one could take advantage of Southwest’s group rates for flights other than a wedding cruise so I just thought I would let folks out there on the net know our experience..