Chase Travel Has What the Other Cards and Online Travel Agencies Don’t — Southwest Flights


Skift Take

Online travel agencies and credit card companies — other than Chase — have Southwest-envy. Not having Southwest flights is a major hole in their travel offerings.

Chase cardholders can book Southwest Airlines flights through the Chase Travel portal, and that’s a rarity for leisure travelers.

You can’t do it through American Express, Citi or Capital One’s travel platforms, nor can vacationers book Southwest flights through Expedia, Kayak, Booking.com, Google Travel or any other online travel platform for leisure travelers.

It isn’t a total shutout for Citi cardholders with access to Citi Travel — they can call Citi customer service to book Southwest flights, but there is no online booking.

That’s the way it worked for Chase cardholders prior to last November. If they wanted to book Southwest flights, they would have to phone Chase Travel customer service to book Southwest. But that changed in November — although it didn’t receive a lot of press — when Chase cardholders got the ability to book Southwest flights on Chase Travel using points or cash, a Chase spokesperson said Wednesday.

An image of Southwest fares available on Chase Travel. Source: Skift

Direct Booking Strategy

Southwest, one of the largest airlines in the U.S., was renowned for its direct booking strategy. The cheapest way for an airline to sell its flights is on its own website; it saves the distribution costs that would come with spreading its fares to third-parties.

For years, Southwest.com was the only place to book Southwest flights. Online travel agencies that tried to offer Southwest flights received cease and desist letters.

In recent years, Southwest has made its flights available to corporate booking tools for business travelers in managed travel programs. It also began distributing its fares and schedules through global distribution systems — but you or your travel agent had to phone Southwest to get a ticket.

It’s unclear what the latest twist in Southwest’s strategy means regarding Chase Travel. Southwest didn’t respond to requests for comment. Will other credit card companies eventually get Southwest’s flights too?

But when Southwest makes it flights available to Chase Travel cardholders, these flights still can only be booked within the non-public Chase Travel environment, and they aren’t available more widely to the general public.

That means that most travelers still have to book Southwest the old-fashioned way — on Southwest.com.



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