Southwest is a unique airline in that they don’t have any charge or cancellation fees like most airlines do.
So when Southwest has a sale and fare prices drop, you can change to that lower fare and get either a refund or travel credit for a future flight depending on the type of fare you originally purchased.
Or you can get points back if you originally booked with rapid reward points.
The problem is you have to constantly check to see if prices have gone done until now. I found an app a programmer created that will check prices for you and send you a text when prices drop.
Now it’s not your typical app that you download from Apple or Google, there is a little work to get it setup. But don’t worry, I’ll show you how step-by-step.
And once you get everything running, it works great. I was alerted and saved on a few flights already.
Let’s dig in:
First, head over to GitHub and scroll down to the ‘Deployment’ section
Next you will need to ‘Deploy’ this to Heroku – which basically means installing this custom program on a website that will run it.
Heroku is a cloud platform for running and managing apps and you will need to create a Heroku free account if you already don’t have one.
So after ‘deploying’, it’s time to fill in some details. Here’s what you should see:
I left the app name blank. It will automatically name it for you.
APP NAME – call this whatever you would like – i named mine ‘tjs-southwest-price-drop-bot’
ADMIN_NAME – ‘admin’ or whatever login name you would like
PASSWORD – (whatever you would like)
Next for the PLIVO information – you will need to signup for an account at PLIVO. This is the service that sends you text messages.
According to this article, there is supposed to be a free trial account that gives you a free PLIVO number and free to send text messages which is what this app needs.
I had a hard time finding my free PLIVO number (maybe the 10,000 signup limit was reached) so I emailed them for help and they set me up with a free number located here:
Now if you can’t get a free trial number, it’s not terribly expensive to buy a number – only 80¢ per month. You can do that by clicking on the ‘Buy Number’ tab, and doing a search for the area code you want – it doesn’t really matter.
One other thing I’d like to note, when I originally signed up I used a gmail.com email address – these don’t seem to work anymore. I had to use my work email address to sign up.
So now you should have a number for the Heroku app. The ID and token are shown on the dashboard:
Enter these three items in Heroku like this and hit ‘Deploy’:
You should get a pop up asking you to verify your account with a credit card. Don’t worry they don’t charge you. After entering, hit ‘Deploy’ again.
After a minute or so, you should get a message saying ‘Your app was successfully deployed’.
Next hit the ‘Manage App’ button and then click on the ‘Heroku Scheduler’ add-on.
Click ‘Add New Job’
Then add an hourly task that runs
npm run task:check like this and hit ‘Save’.
Finally, we can launch the app – click on the app’s name (remember the app name was optional, in this case it was automatically named for me as still-****
The app will launch in a new window – enter your username and password that you had previously set up.
Once logged in, it’s time to start creating alerts. Here are the current prices for a one-way flight to Las Vegas from Baltimore:
Click ‘Create new alert’
Enter details – let’s track the first flight out at 6:15am. Just enter the details and the price you paid.
After hitting ‘create alert’, it will start checking. To go back to the app’s main screen, simply click on the title “Southwest Price Drop Bot”
At the home screen, it will display the current price. You can add more alerts if you would like.
After adding a couple more alerts, our home screen should look something like this:
You can then click on any of the alerts to drill into the details.
Finally, you will know everything is working properly if you get a text message saying it is tracking the prices:
So it’s a little bit of pain to setup for the text alerts, but I hope my step by step guide makes it easy. The hardest thing may be getting a free trial account number from Plivio – but even if you can’t, it should be less than a $1/month to buy a number. And remember you don’t actually need to setup the text alerts with Plivio – you can deploy the application without it. It will still work and run, you’ll just have to occasionally check your computer to see if prices dropped.
Word of Warning – Southwest doesn’t seem to like people creating these type of programs. I was using one called SWA Dashboard which worked great but it disappeared from the website. I emailed the author and he said Southwest got in touch with him and had him take it down. So I’m not sure how long this one will last – might as well use it while you can.
Like this guide? Check out my guide on setting up automatic check-in for Southwest flights so you don’t have to pay for early bird.
Or better yet, sign-up for my free travel hacking beginner’s course – learn how to use miles and points for trips you’ve only dreamed of.
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