Southwest Airlines offers some of the cheapest flights out there, but you’ll save even more if you’re willing to plan. Want to buy your tickets at the last minute? Then you’ll pay even more than usual – so book your flight at least four weeks in advance and you’ll get great deals on Southwest Airlines flights! Best of all, there are lots of websites where you can buy Southwest airline tickets online, and they’re easy to find with just a little bit of research. Let us show you how it’s done!

Step 1: Find Your Starting Point

If you don’t already have one, open up a Southwest Airlines account. If you already have an account, log in and head to Step 2. If you're booking a flight with a friend or family member, make sure they also create (or log into) their own Southwest account and add themselves as an authorized user. There is no fee for adding yourself or other authorized users to your account!

Step 2: Choose a Destination

Southwest Airlines destinations are split up into four categories: domestic and Hawaii, as well as international destinations in Mexico, Central America, Caribbean, Northern South America, and South America. This means that you could book a flight for just about anywhere that’s accessible via one of these airports. But to start with it's good to pick a category that matches your travel preferences: whether you want something close to home or not. There are also two methods for picking a destination: you can browse by map or search for your preferred location. These work just like searching for flights in any other online booking tool - complete with things like check-in dates and available departure times.

Step 3: Secure the Most Affordable Round-Trip Fares

Southwest Airlines claims it's only interested in one thing: Making sure you fly. And when Southwest serves up a good deal, it gives travelers fair warning. Not only does Southwest flights offer its best deals on both round-trip and southwest one-way flights through its Low Fare Calendar, but it often sends out advance notifications by email. Simply sign up for Southwest's special low fare alerts to be among those who get first dibs at these special prices. You can also check sites like Expedia or Travelocity for last-minute deals from Southwest; these will pop up as soon as two days before departure so you don't have time to miss out if they're super cheap.

Step 4: Check-In & Boarding Info

Southwest Airlines will email you a copy of your itinerary once it’s been finalized. In that email will be informed about when and where to check in for your flight, along with boarding procedures for those without Pre Check status. If there are any fees, these should also be detailed in that email. Read it carefully and make sure you follow all instructions so you can get through security and onto your plane with minimal delays or issues. This is critical as Southwest doesn’t board groups of passengers at one time as other airlines do, so if you miss your group number they could cut off southwest check-in quickly before it gets to your turn and you end up having to go back through security or miss your flight entirely.

Step 5: Things to Do On Board

Southwest Airlines has some great free perks available to every passenger. In addition to its generous legroom, Southwest offers a free magazine selection, unlimited soft drinks, and live TV. Many passengers also rave about how kind their flight attendants are and about how safe they feel onboard southwest international flights. Be sure to check out free birds World Burrito—you can enjoy fresh-made tortillas, fresh salsa, and guacamole onboard. It's not your typical plane food! If you're running late (or want to enjoy a cocktail before boarding), be sure to use your mobile device or laptop while you wait in line at TSA screening—the gate agents have Wi-Fi connections available so you can browse without having to worry about missing your flight.

Step 6: Getting Home

Southwest Airlines does not fly internationally, so your trip is likely to start and end in Texas. Southwest, however, provides a lot of options for reaching Texas from other states. Your best bet for getting to Texas from Washington State? A flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). From there you can catch connecting southwest flights to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). So if that sounds like your only option? Save those travel bucks by booking your roundtrip flight with Southwest now instead of waiting until you’re about to take off for Houston. Want more money-saving tips? Follow our advice on how much luggage you should pack when flights are the least expensive and other handy airline hacks you might not know yet—for free!