A Big Change To The Rules For Earning The Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest Airlines has grown up so much since I started flying, and yet so much has stayed the same.  For the longest time, they had to contend with the Wright Amendment, which meant an artificial restriction on where they could fly.

Since Wright went away, Southwest has expanded greatly.  They acquired AirTran and added tons of routes.  They’re now the 3rd biggest airline in the US in terms of traffic.  They also changed their loyalty program to a revenue-based one, making it much harder to earn free flights cheaply.

Along the way, they kept their charm and efficiency for the most part.  They still turn planes quickly and treat customers well.

One of the best values of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program is their companion pass program.  A Southwest companion pass entitles you to a free ticket for your companion every time you “purchase” a ticket on Southwest.  You can purchase a ticket with dollars or points.  Both qualify for a free flight when you have a companion pass.  For families, this can make it a tremendous value.  The value is so good I even took the plunge last year.  We haven’t used it nearly as much as I thought we might.  That means I’m not as upset about today’s news.

Southwest Companion Pass

Effective January 1, 2017, transferred points from hotel programs or car rental programs no longer count towards companion pass qualification.

View From the Wing details the change in the Southwest T&C today.  I qualified for the companion pass with a transfer from Hyatt Gold Passport.  I only had a handful of revenue flights on Southwest in 2016, so I was nowhere near the 100 flights needed to qualify.  The lion’s share of the 110,000 points I needed to earn came via that Hyatt transfer.

The Final Two Pennies

This move isn’t a big surprise if you’ve been paying attention.  There were some recent strategies where folks could buy a companion pass for less than $2,000.  And, Deals We Like was the first one to teach me that the smart way to qualify got you 2 years of companion pass.  Something that valuable just doesn’t last forever in this game.

You can still spend money via the Rapid Rewards shopping portal to earn points towards a companion pass.  And, you can apply for the Southwest credit cards.  Given how infrequently our family has used the pass so far, I won’t be using either of these methods to keep our pass when it expires at the end of this year.

The Southwest companion pass remains just as valuable as before.  If you already have some paid travel on Southwest it may be worth pursing the shopping portal/credit card path.  It still may work for those who haven’t applied for the credit cards yet and don’t have paid travel.  But, you’ll likely only be able to use that path once.

Bunch of sad folks in the miles and points game over this one today.

The post A Big Change To The Rules For Earning The Southwest Companion Pass was published first on Pizza in Motion


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