For a few years now, Southwest has been blocking customers in many countries from accessing their website. While this may not seem to be a problem on the face of it (Southwest does not fly to Switzerland, after all!) it is a problem which I will talk about below.
Southwest Blocking Countries from Their Website
I will start with this – Southwest absolutely has the right to block countries from accessing their website. However, not a week goes by that I do not get many comments/messages/DMs from frustrated customers that are traveling and cannot access the website (I get these because I have written a lot about this issue in the past). This is why I want to draw attention to it again.
Why Is This a Problem if Southwest Does Not Fly to Those Countries?
There are two key problems that affect many customers – inability to access Southwest sales while traveling and inability to check-in at T-24 hours to make sure you are not relegated to “C” boarding on your return to the US.
Since many great flight deals internationally are from major gateways, many passengers like to use Southwest to connect to those cities for the good flight deals. Choosing Southwest gives them free bags (since many international flights still give at least 1 free bag this helps out) as well as flexibility if they need to change a flight.
However, without the ability to access the Southwest website, they are not able to check in for their flight at T-24 hours to get a good boarding zone.
I also hear from many who want to take advantage of Southwest’s frequent sales (I mean, even when we are traveling, we still like to get in on good deals for more travel!). This means they may miss out on some things like the 2 big Southwest sales that they run each June and October.
Which Countries Does Southwest Block from their Website?
According to my testing before (and reader comments), these are the countries that are affected by Southwest’s website blocking:
- Hong Kong
- South Africa
- South Korea
Why Is Southwest Blocking Countries from their Website?
I have heard from some that this is a security issue, based on the countries on the list and some fraud issues from many countries. However, other airlines seem to be able to handle this just fine.
I understand that Southwest has less of a motive to implement this since they don’t actually fly to these countries. But, there are a lot of customers (many, many based on the sampling I get from people) that are upset about not being able to choose Southwest flights.
That last part is a problem as well since Southwest does not sell tickets through OTAs (online travel agencies).
There was this comment I received on a previous post from a reader that may shed some light on the issue as well:
How Can You Access Southwest if You Are in a Blocked Country?
There used to be a simple workaround of punching in the mobile Southwest site but that is blocked now as well (as well as the app).
Here are a couple of workarounds:
- Use a VPN service (this hides your location and traffic) – NordVPN is a top selection by many (affiliate link) or check this link for free VPNs
- Use your US SIM card (may charge extra for data) – this uses stateside IP locations so you are good to go
- Use Google Fi (it also uses stateside or UK IP locations) – plus Google Fi devices actually have free VPN built-in now
Southwest, Please Just Stop Blocking Countries
But, Southwest, the easiest thing for so many of us would be if you could just get your online house in order on the security front and you start letting customers all over the world access your site!
I mean, that is somewhat of a compliment to you that so many people want to fly Southwest over competitors, even if they are not currently in the US. Reward that loyalty and let them access your website!
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock