1] I found a great DING for the exact flights that I wanted.
2] I picked my flights and went thru the process of ‘booking’ them right up until the point where it asked for form of payment.
3] In a separate window I opened up my email confirmation from the original [higher priced] flight that I had booked with SW a month or so earlier.
4] I found my confirmation number [which is actually a combination of numbers and letters] on my email and wrote it down.
5] When I clicked on the link in #5 it brought up a page with this information -
If your outbound flight has not departed, you may submit a refund request:
online at southwest.com. To begin this process, you will first need to Cancel your flight Reservation. Southwest Airlines - Cancel Air Reservation
6] They will ask for your original Confirmation Number and the credit card holders name - as it appears on the card. This would be the card that you used for the original reservation.
To save alot of time. Have your confirmation number and credit card holder information in a handy spot at all times. This way you can grab it quickly if you get DINGed.
7] enter the information - and click ‘Retrieve Flight Information’. At this point [in the next screen] you will be clicking to cancel your reservation. BUT - before I clicked to cancel - I went back to the DING window and checked to be sure my DING flights were still available.
8] after I was sure they were still available I clicked to cancel my original flight.
9] In the screen to book the DING flight I stated that I wanted to use funds that I had in reserve. [I’m not sure of the exact wording it used]. Here is where I entered the confirmation number from the original flight. It showed my new flight as paid in full and also showed my credit remaining on the original flight.
It sounds complicating but it really only took less than 5 minutes from start to finish.
Warning ~ ~ ~ ~ I guess there is always that small chance that in the seconds it takes to cancel the original flight and book the new one that the DING fares could become booked up and no longer available. If you know without a doubt that you will be flying often within the next year [and you have the extra funds available], a sure fire way would be to book the new flight and pay for it. Then cancel the old flight and have the entire original amount as a credit to be used on an upcoming flight.