Why I LOVE the Southwest Companion Pass

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I currently have a Southwest Airlines companion pass and LOVE it. It has allowed my husband, sister, and mom to all fly with me for FREE! I am so sad that my companion pass will expire at the end of the calendar year, but will most likely earn it next year (especially with the help of applying for the personal and business Southwest credit card – more details below)! UPDATE: I have re-qualified for a companion pass through December 2013 due to getting both Southwest credit cards.

I have been able to use this pass on the following flights: New York – Detroit, Hartford – New Orleans, New York – New Orleans, New York – Ft. Lauderdale (twice), New York – Los Angeles, New York – Salt Lake City. If you value each round-trip at around $300, this companion pass has saved me $2,100! Of course, other airlines might have been slightly cheaper for the paying passenger, but not much.

To earn the companion pass: 100 qualifying one-way flights or 110,000 Qualifying Points in one calendar year. You can earn Qualifying Points with credit card spend, Rapid Reward partners (i.e, Marriott, Avis, Hyatt), and flying Southwest. Additionally, many have reported that the bonus points from credit card applications also count towards companion pass status!

Flying limitations: With the companion pass there are no black out dates or seat restrictions – if there is a seat available for purchase, it is available for your companion. The companion pass can even be used if points were redeemed for a free flight. This can result in both passengers going FREE (plus the ~$5 taxes/passenger)!

Number of times the companion pass can be used: Unlimited! There is no cap on the number of times the pass can be used.

Who can be a companion: Anyone can be your companion – friends, family, a complete stranger. However, the companion pass can only be switched up to three times during the validity of the pass. Since you need to allocate your companion when getting the pass, this allows you 4 people to use the pass (those people can be repeated and put back on as the companion as well but counts as one of your allowed changes). To change your companion pass, call Southwest Customer Service (1-800-IFLYSWA) and they will easily assist you on the spot.

Companion pass expiration: The companion pass is valid the remainder of the year it was earned plus the following calendar year. For example, if you earn the pass November 2011, you will have it for the rest of 2011, plus 2012. If you earn the pass in January 2012, you will have it for the rest of 2012, plus 2013.

Strategy to getting the pass: For those of you who do not fly frequently, getting 100 one-way flights is impossible as it requires 50 trips a year. However, getting 110,000 Qualifying Points is obtainable if you put in a little bit of effort. The bonus points for each credit card can only be earned once for each card type. Therefore, it has been reported that you can earn bonus points on both the personal card and the business card, getting you very to earning that companion pass! While the credit card bonus points alone won’t get you the companion pass, getting the additional points required is easy with partner activity and credit card spend. While I got the credit card under the Rapid Reward 1.0 program, I do not have personal verification that this works and that it will continue to work. I did, however, open up both the personal and business card last week so am taking the risk myself. I am 99% confident it works, just want to make you aware of that 1% uncertainty. The terms and conditions do not include whether these points do or do not count, but MANY others have reported they count, and no one has reported otherwise. The terms state that bonus enrollment points do not count, however, I read this as points you get when enrolling into the Rapid Rewards program, not the credit card program. UPDATE: I applied for this card in Fall 2011 and it worked and is still working!

The bonus points from the credit card offer are credited to your account after you meet the minimum spend requirements. So if you are just shy of getting the pass this year, then act quickly and get the points. However, if you are new to the game, I would suggest waiting to activate and make your first purchase after January 1st of next year. This will give you another year to make use of the companion pass! The points will also post to your account within 2-3 days of your statement close date.

Credit card to help earn the companion pass:  As mentioned previously, there are three different Southwest cards – ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements, but different annual fees and annual bonuses. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog postYou can learn more about all Airline credit card offers here.

Pingbacks

  1. […] Yesterday I posted about my success in getting the Southwest Airlines companion pass. For those of you who are not aware of this companion pass – it is one of the best perks in the entire airline industry! While others would disagree due the lack of business class seats on Southwest flights, that does not bother me. I mean, I am an economy kind of girl anyways —> less miles redeemed = more trips to take! You can read an entire post about the companion pass here. […]

Comments

  1. This is so cool! I’d heard about it, of course, but never thought I would be able to get one. Thanks for the CC info.
    Question: Do you trade your 110,000 points in for the pass? Or do you get them AND the pass?
    It was so great to meet you this week! I had so much fun and learned a lot. Hope to see you again soon!

    • @Roadwarriotte – The CP is AWESOME! Just need to earn 110,000 points (do not need to trade them in). So you get free flights and the pass! Great meeting you as well!

  2. I am kicking myself right now. Being new to this game, yesterday I finally bite the bullet and applied for the Chase Sapphire card and SW Preferred Rapid Rewards. After reading this post, I’d like to apply for the SW Rapid Rewards business card for the 50,000 points to earn a companion pass (and should have waited on the Sapphire).

    Would it be better to go ahead an apply now, probably be rejected for too many Chase inquires, and then call in to the reconsideration line? (I’ve had one Chase card for a long time.) Or wait 90 days and hope the promotion is still available?

    • @Erin – I would hold off applying just yet. There still is no end date for the 50,000 point credit card, and I will absolutely communicate it when it happens. I would wait till as long as you can before applying. Also, for the CP, wait until Jan 1st to make the purchase and have the 50,000 points hit your account if you are looking to extend the amount of time you have it for.

  3. HI
    I just qualified today for the companion pass. A couple of questions–
    1. The letter I received from Southwest said I’d receive a welcome packet and the pass within 10 days; however, can I book a companion pass flight now?

    2. How do I book a companion pass flight? I’m not sure where to find the option

    Thanks again

    Lisa

    • @Lisa – Great! You are able to start using the companion pass now. When you view your upcoming trip, there is an option to add a companion pass ticket. You must then select the same flights that you are already scheduled on for your companion. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  4. I’m 30k point away from qualifying for a Companion Pass. If I apply for this credit card from Chase with the 50k bonus points, will those miles count toward granting my Companion Pass Status?

    • @Ray – there have been many reports that it works. While I actually have the credit card under the old RR program, I cannot let you know definitely from my personal experience.

  5. Be careful, as you get closer to companion pass status, SW will start to delete some of your points to avoid giving it to you. My SW account used to show my tier progress when I was getting close to companion status. But once I passed it, all mention of Companion pass tier on my account disappeared.

  6. Hello, my companion pass expires at the end of this year. If I book flights for next year now, and add a companion to it now, will it still work for next year since I booked the flight during this calendar year?

    • @JT – My assumption is no, but I do not have any personal evidence of that. Will it actually allow you to add a companion?

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