If you’re reading this, chances are you already know a thing or two about VPNs. Maybe you’ve even used them to help find cheap airline tickets. But did you know that some airline sites are only available in certain countries?
Take Southwest, for instance. Though it is one of the biggest airlines in the world, its website, southwest.com, is only available for people in the U.S. and a handful of nearby countries. In fact, if you try to view it from most of the world, you’ll instantly see this Southwest Airlines “Access Denied” message:
To add insult to injury, you won’t have any luck finding tickets on third-party sites like Kayak or Orbitz, either. That’s because the only way to buy a Southwest ticket is through southwest.com. The company says this is to help keep its costs down, and while that may be true, it makes it extremely difficult for customers outside the U.S. to take advantage of the airline’s services.
Whether you want to check in early, change your flight, or simply want to verify your itinerary, not being able to access the website can cause a whole host of potential issues. And when you’re traveling, flight hiccups are the last thing you want to deal with.
Fortunately, there’s an easy workaround. If you’re experiencing the dreaded “Access Denied” page and are wondering why you can’t access the Southwest Airlines website, this guide will show you how to use a VPN to encrypt your network and access southwest.com privately and securely.
Why Southwest blocks outside IPs
Southwest Airlines has been blocking specific IPs outside the U.S. and the neighboring countries it serves for a number of years now. A simple Google search will show oodles of community pages with customers venting their frustration in painful detail.
While Southwest hasn’t detailed its reasons for blocking access to most of the world, there could be a number of reasonable explanations: one, since the airline doesn’t offer long-haul international flights, it wants to limit any excess traffic to its site; two, it wants to limit customers purchasing tickets abroad, and, therefore, any potential savings the end user might see; and three, the page restrictions are merely an error that Southwest has not yet felt it was important to address.
That said, Southwest seems to follow a random pattern of blocking some IPs while allowing others; some users have even reported being able to access Southwest by visiting the site from a different city in the same country.
What you need to access southwest.com abroad
Instead of spending hours on hold with customer service, or worse, perusing the back pages of community self-help posts, you can use the following tools to bypass the “Access Denied” message and visit the Southwest website freely.
Just come prepared with:
- A secure VPN (like ExpressVPN!)
- Your Southwest account (if you have one)
- A few seconds to spare
No outside tools or subscriptions necessary; with a secure VPN connection, you can access southwest.com without having to enter your passport number, credit card information, or personal address (although you will need to supply some of these to actually book a ticket). Plus you can use a VPN to access Southwest on any browser using any device.
A step-by-step guide to accessing Southwest Airlines overseas
To access the Southwest website with a secure VPN connection, open your VPN app and connect to any server location in the U.S.
Once connected, make sure your VPN is working by opening your browser and visiting ExpressVPN’s IP Address Checker to verify your location. If your IP matches that of your VPN address, then your new IP address is secure, and you can proceed with all due speed.
Now, head to southwest.com and use the site as you usually would. Remember, you don’t need to sign up or enter any details explicitly; but if you already have a Southwest account, you should now be able to use it as usual.
You can buy a new ticket or check prices!
Yup. It really is that easy.
Reminder: Don’t forget to use a VPN when flying
What have airport Wi-Fi and airline Wi-Fi got in common? With huge volumes of user traffic on any airline network at any given moment, the amount of sensitive data passing between multiple devices is palpable.
If you want to browse securely—whether you’re on the ground or in the air—make sure you keep your VPN on at all times. As an added bonus, you can even use your VPN to visit sites that your airline Wi-Fi network restricts. It’s a win-win.