Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits

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This is post #3 in a series discussing the Southwest Rapid Rewards program:

This series contains:

  1. Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
  2. Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
  3. Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
  4. Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
  5. Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
  6. Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights
  7. Transferring Points to Southwest
  8. Transferring Points/Credits between AirTran and Southwest
  9. Extending the Life of Free Flights from Rapid Reward 1.0 Program
  10. Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
  11. Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
  12. Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
  13. Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price

As you are all pretty aware, Southwest does not have the same status perks as the other airlines. Most people love status because of the chance of being upgraded, being top of the standby list, getting free checked baggage, lounge access (for some airlines), and free same-day standby (again, for some airlines). While Southwest has some of these perks, they by no means have them all, especially no upgrade opportunities. Southwest’s planes have no preferred seating and a nice business class seat with a meal is just not available.

So how do I earn status with Southwest:

Southwest has two status levels: A-List and A-List Preferred. To earn either of these status levels, you must complete the following in a calendar year:

  • A-List: Earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points or fly 25 qualifying one-way flights
  • A-List Preferred: Earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points or fly 50 qualifying one-way flights

There are two ways to earn status at each level, but for the average flier, earning status will be challenging. Qualifying flights means that you must have paid for the ticket, free tickets with credits or points do not qualify. Also, some other airlines count qualifying flights based on segments, but with Southwest, if your flight is one segment or three, that is still 1 flight towards status.

Tier Qualifying Points are earned a few different ways:

  • Flying Southwest – you will earn the same number of TQP’s as regular points, exclusive of any regular point bonuses; from time to time there are TQP bonuses as well
  • Credit Card spend – For the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier card (both business and personal), you will earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend on the card (up to a maximum of 15,000 points annually) – people have reported that this cap is per card, so if you have both the business and personal version of the premier card you might be able to get 30,000 TQPs (I personally cannot speak from my experience though)

What will Southwest status get me?

  • A-List benefits: Priority Boarding, 25% Earning Bonus, Standby Priority, Priority Check-In and Security Access, Special Customer Service Line
  • A-List Preferred benefits: All the benefits as regular A-List status plus 100% Earning Bonus and free in-flight WiFi

So the value of the benefits really value per person. I wouldn’t go ahead chasing status like you might with another airline, but if you earn it great. To me, the biggest benefit is the points earning bonus (25% or 100%) and free WiFi for A-List Preferred members.

Southwest Credit Card to help earn the companion pass: You can apply for the Southwest card here. There are four cards in total, two personal and two business versions, with the main differences being that the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements. You can view all four cards and the differences in this prior blog post.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As always I’ll list the best offer available as my goal is for you to travel on a deal!

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Comments

  1. When you have the companion pass, does it only work when you are booking a cash fare or will your friend fly free if you are only booking with points? Thank you

    • @Grado – Any fare! Paid fare, free flight with points, free flight from the Rapid Reward 1.0 program. That is one of the great benefits of the companion pass!

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