Southwest Airlines made a really good move yesterday. We learned just a few days ago that they were making a painful change to their highly regarded companion pass. Effective immediately, they closed the loophole allowing folks to transfer points from hotel and car rental loyalty programs to earn a companion pass. However, it looks like Southwest changed their mind on the companion pass changes.
If you’re unfamiliar with the companion pass, it’s one of the best perks out there. 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.
It turns out Southwest listened to some of the negative feedback this week. One Mile at a Time reports that instead of the change being immediate, they’ve postponed it until the end of March. Southwest released a statement regarding it:
As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.
In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.
Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.
To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.
We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!
The Final Two Pennies
I’ve always respected Southwest’s approach to customer service. They’re not afraid to be edgy and self-deprecating. And, this week they’re not afraid to be just a little wrong. Giving customers notice of a change like this is a good thing to do. Those of us more, ahem, aggressive travelers have been known to transfer the entire 110,000 points needed for a Southwest companion pass from one of our hotel loyalty accounts. But, normal travelers might only transfer a few thousand to top off their efforts to earn a pass.
That’s less likely considering the qualifications are over a calendar year. Unless you had really planned out your travel year as a “normal” traveler, you wouldn’t know how many extra points you needed. But, you might transfer a small chunk to be safe. That being said, this change will cost Southwest money. Some folks will rush to transfer points and lock up a companion pass. I might be one of them, not sure.
If you’re thinking about the Southwest companion pass, you now have a few more months to get those points transferred over. Don’t delay if you’re considering. I believe them when they say it’s a hard deadline.
Southwest wins the week for this change, in my opinion.
Are you contemplating a Southwest companion pass this year?
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