A tool to automatically alert you to Southwest price drops!
For those who read this blog regularly, you'll know that I have two passions: business intelligence and travel hacking. Nothing excites me more than being able to combine the two in novel ways; this post is the third entry in our "Travel Hacking" series that does just that!
Southwest Airlines has one of the most generous ticket change and cancellation policies in the world. Included in that policy is a truly unique gem. If the price of a flight you have already booked happens to go down, Southwest will refund the price difference to a flight credit that you can use on future bookings.
The only problem is Southwest draws the line at actually alerting you about price drops. If you happen to find that the price has gone down on your own, you are entitled to claim your credit; but Southwest will not proactively email you that a better deal is available. That's completely understandable...but means that if you don't happen to be checking Southwest for each of your booked itineraries on a regular basis you are likely to miss out on price drops opportunities.
That's where this tool comes in! It's completely free and just requires a Windows computer. All you need to do is (a) download it, (b) unzip it to C:\SouthwestTracker, and (3) follow the PDF instructions provided. It takes about 5 - 10 minutes to set up. Once it is up and running you will start getting email alerts like this whenever one of your flights drops in price!
In anticipation of a couple questions techies are likely to have after examining the tool:
- Isn't this a really complex way to get data? Wouldn't a REST query be more efficient? Absolutely it would. But Southwest's REST API has one of the most robust security schemes I have ever seen. They have gone to absurd lengths to prevent automated queries against their databases. Short of hacking, browser macro automation is the only practical approach.
- Why does this use QlikView? Isn't Qlik Sense a newer and better tool? It is, but QlikView is available as a standalone executable which doesn't require a license to open and run local applications.
So I have this all set up as instructed. I don’t seem to have any errors. When you run the test how long should it take to get results?
Results are instant. If you want to test that it’s working, simply set the price to track in the CSV file to higher than what a flight is currently selling for. That should trigger an email next time the tool runs (you can run it right away in Task Scheduler by clicking “Run”).
I must be doing something wrong I’ve tried in on 3 different computers and can’t get it to work.
Try to narrow down at which point it stops working. When you run it do you see the browser open and go through its routine (go to southwest.com, save one page at a time)? If you look at the “HTMLOutput” folder after it runs do you see HTML files in there? The order of the script is: (a) output HTML files, (b) reload QlikView app, (c) email if price drop detected.
So i have double checked the process to make sure i have everything set correctly and it appears i do. when i run a test on the task scheduler. all i get is a blue screen that pops up and then goes away. I dont see anything else and there is no data saved in the HTMLOutput folder
Sounds like it’s not running the Chrome macro at all. Open Chrome, click on the extensions (puzzle piece) icon, open UI.Vision RPA. On the bottom, switch Storage Mode to “File system”. You should see a single macro there called SouthwestTracker. Try to run it. If you’re not seeing that macro, you might not have performed Step 5 in the instructions.
OK, I changed the mode to file system and reinstalled XModules. Then ran the Macro by clicking the SouthwestTracker. IT appeared to go through the process. I saw Chrome open go to the SW site enter in my date (which i changed the date format on the excel sheet) and it closed everything out as it should.
So I again tried to run it from the task scheduler and i still only get the blue screen that flashes and nothing else.
I do want to say Thank you for your time and patience and also quick reply’s.
Follow UP…. I got it working.
The one Simple thing I not include..
On step 10 when you add Arguments:
I only added the path “C:\Southwest….” not the full Argument -Execution policy Bypass …….
Again, Thank you for your help. this is amazing.
I have your tool installed, but the task is unable to move forward when trying to save the HTML file, returning an “invalid file name” dialogue. I believe this has to do with the forward slashes included in the “Date” column in the CSV file. Windows does not allow forward slashes to be part of the file name. I believe this is the information retrieved on line 139 of the SouthwestTracker.json file, specifically the “COL4” argument. Are you able to correct this so that the file name doesn’t include the forward slashes from the date? Thank you!
Dates shouldn’t include slashes, they should be formatted as YYYY-MM-DD. See the instruction document for more details.
Ok great, I missed that, thank you! Just to let you know, the sample rows in the SouthwestTracker.csv file contain dates with forward slashes. Thank you!
Hi, Matt. That’s not the case. Here are the contents of the sample CSV:
1973,BWI,ORD,2023-05-03,Wanna Get Away,USD,124
1096 / 1935,BWI,ORD,2023-05-04,Wanna Get Away,POINTS,12646
The slash is to represent connecting flights, it’s not in the date column. The instruction document should help you out.
Sounds good, I think it was just Excel auto-formatting the date column and adding in slashes. Thank you!
That’s a really good point I didn’t mention in the instructions, you shouldn’t use Excel to edit the CSV for exactly that reason. Will amend the instruction document.