The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass has been in the news quite a bit for travel folks lately. First, there was the unfortunate news that certain transfers (including from hotel and car rental companies) would no longer count towards Companion Pass qualification, effective immediately.
That left some folks in bad shape, having already executed transfer and waiting to finish up qualification for a Companion Pass. Whether from customer pressure, social media or bloggers, Southwest heard their customers and relented, allowing folks a few extra months to transfer points before closing this lucrative path to the Companion Pass.
For all intents and purposes, that appeared to leave just credit card sign-up bonuses as the only significant path to a Companion Pass without flying a whole lot. Or, at least I thought so.
As an aside, not familiar with the Southwest Companion Pass? It’s exactly what it sounds like. “Purchase” one ticket, get another one free. I put purchase in quotation marks because you can also redeem Rapid Rewards points for a ticket and receive a free one. It’s one of the best values in travel, especially if you have a significant other and/or family. My friend Jennifer from Deals We Like has a great series of posts covering everything you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass.
The short version is it involves Southwest’s hotel booking portal, SouthwestHotels.com. It appears that points earned from hotel bookings count towards the Companion Pass. I checked a couple of random bookings to see if the prices were competitive on the portal.
January 30th, Herndon VA:
January 30th, Chicago:
Is This Right For You?
Cruising through the Southwest Hotels website, I found rates that offered as many as 4,000 Rapid Rewards points on a 1-night booking. I only found one 4,000 point rate, but it was at a legit hotel (Hyatt Regency McCormack Place in Chicago). I also found one 5,000 point rate for a property in Dallas I’ve never heard of. The original post noted rates that included as may as 10,000 points. I didn’t find any of those, but I only searched a dozen cities for a couple of different dates.
These bookings don’t earn elite status credit or hotel points. That means you need to forego those benefits if you want to earn the Companion Pass.
If you averaged 2,000 points a night from Southwest Hotels, you’d need just over 50 nights to score the Companion Pass with no flight activity. That’s manageable for a frequent traveler, but no so much for the occasional traveler.
The Final Two Pennies
It’s an interesting path to the Companion Pass. My gut tells me that most folks will only find joy here in combination with a credit card sign-up bonus or some Southwest travel. The whole point of the miles and points game is to find outsized value where you can.
There’s definitely outsized value to be found here, but it’ll likely take a bit of elbow grease if your goal is a Southwest Companion Pass.
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