While the bonus offer you get with the Southwest credit cards is great, many people are getting the card solely due to the fact that it will help them achieve the Southwest Companion Pass Status. I fully detailed the Companion Pass in this prior post, but to quickly recap: To earn this pass you need 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Once achieved you will earn the pass for the current calendar year plus the following calendar year. The Southwest Companion Pass allows a companion to travel with you for FREE (plus tax of $2.50 per segment).

So here are the top 10 Southwest Companion Pass questions. If you have anymore feel free to comment below and I will answer.

  1. Are there blackout dates with the companion pass? 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)!
  2. How many times can the companion pass can be used? Unlimited! There is no cap on the number of times the pass can be used.
  3. 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).
  4. How quickly does my designated companion go into affect? Immediately. To change your companion pass, call Southwest Customer Service (1-800-IFLYSWA) and they will easily assist you on the spot. You can then book a flight for your companion right away.
  5. When does the companion pass expire? 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 April 3013, you will have it for the rest of 2013, plus 2014. If you were to put it off and hopefully earn the pass in January 2014, you will have it for the rest of 2014, plus 2015 (read this post to learn more about getting the pass for the 2014 and 2015 calendar year).
  6. Do you have to buy the companion pass with the points earned? No. Once you earn 110,000 points the pass is yours and you still have those points to use to redeem for a free flight. You do NOT need to “cash” in the 110,000 points to receive the companion pass. For instance, 110,000 Southwest Points is equivalent to $1,833 in free flights on a Southwest “Wanna Getaway Fare”, if you redeem all those points while having the companion pass status, you are essentially getting $3,666 worth in airfare on Southwest.
  7. Can the points earned from the credit card sign up bonus be used for other passengers or do they solely have to be used by the person flying with the companion? The points can be used for anyone and is not limited to the person’s whose account they are in. Obviously, when you use the points for the primary person and add a companion to the reservation you are getting a free flight with your points for two people instead of one.
  8. The Southwest site states that the bonus points from the credit cards do not count towards the companion pass. Is this true? That is true for bonus offers once you have the card, not for the bonus points given from the sign up offer. The bonus points earned from the sign up offer do count towards companion pass status (at least at the time of writing this post). Bonus offers earned after you have the card, for example, spend $X on the card and receive X bonus points will not count towards the points needed to earn the companion pass.
  9. What if I need to change my reservation, will the companion still be able to fly without the primary person? No. If you need to cancel or change your flight, your companions flight will also be cancelled. I’ve actually screwed myself over before as I needed to change my flight last minute and my companion had to buy a new ticket (at a much higher price since it was only a few days in advance of the flight). You can always use your points to book your companion a flight ahead of time just in case a change in the primary persons travel plan. Just remember to cancel that flight prior to.
  10. If I already have a reservation for a companion, can I book a flight for another companion prior to the flight that is already booked? Let’s say you currently have a flight for Companion A in December, but want to travel with Companion B in September. Companion A’s flight is already booked. In this scenario, you will need to cancel Companion A’s flight in order to book a flight for another companion prior to. Changing your companion will cancel any itineraries associated with that companion. If it is a flight with many seats still available if shouldn’t be an issue, but if the flight is sold out you are taking a risk by cancelling with the hopes to re-book. This is a more complicated situation so I will dedicate an entire blog post to this tomorrow.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • Danh T. said,

    I use the companion pass once on a trip to Florida and they don’t even check for the companion pass card that they sent me. As long as you have your boarding pass, I think they’ll let you on the plane.

  • Nicole @ Liberty Belles said,

    Same – I’ve used mine 4 times, and never once has someone asked me for the card. I’m continually surprised about it. Is this common?

  • Frank said,

    On point #1 above, if you pay with points they don’t even have to come from the owner of the companion pass. For 4example, I used my own points to buy a ticket for my wife who has the companion pass and then she added me as her free companion on that flight.

    So as a couple you only need 1 companion pass. I hope to get mine as soon as hers expires.

  • Dean said,

    I have used the companion pass for over 6 years on at least 30 flights and have never been asked for nor do I even bother carrying the card.

  • Carey said,

    If I book a flight and add a Companion Pass (CP), then see the fare has dropped a few days later I will cancel the companion pass, change my reservation and then re-add the companion back to my new itinerary. The $5 Security Fee for my ticket is refunded. Can you let me know if the $5 Security Fee from the original CP reservation is also refunded?

  • MrWheat said,

    As to #9 I don’t get why you get “screwed”. Simply cancel the first booking (which also cancel’s the companion trip). Rebook online, and then go through the ADD COMPANION process again for your new trip.

  • MrWheat said,

    If you get a Plus card, how long until you can apply for a Premier Card? 3 months?

    Also, I know the AA Citi Platinum card you can reapply for every 18 months – can you do the same for SW Chase cards?

  • dealswelike said,

    @MrWheat – citi and chase have different “rules”. With chase you typically cannot get the sign on bonus for the same card within two years of closing it.

  • ahmed said,

    Does it work for flights on AirTran bookable through southwest.com?

  • dealswelike said,

    @ahmed – yup!

  • Brenda said,

    I need clarification on an issue. I have read several times in the posts that the companion pass “Once achieved you will earn the pass for the current calendar year plus the following calendar year. The Southwest Companion Pass allows a companion to travel with you for FREE (plus tax of $2.50 per segment)”.However in speaking with Rapid Rewards representative I was told the companion pass would start at the beginning of the calendar year, Jan 2014 to Dec 31, 2014 and would not be for the balance of this year.While it is an excellent deal, this is an important distinction. Can you clarify. Thank you.

  • dealswelike said,

    @brenda – that is not correct. You receive the companion pass the year it’s earned plus the following calendar year.

  • Ryan said,

    Can we use CP for ATA flights?

  • dealswelike said,

    @ryan – if booked via southwest then yes. There will be a dedicated blog post explaining this In more detail within the next week

  • Nate said,

    Today is August 7, 2013. I went to open the two credit cards and on the first application, the business one, it asked for a tax identification number.

    I read on another blog that you could qualify for a business card if you’ve so much as sold something on EBay in the past. Is it possible that Chase is clamping down on people opening the business account, or am I missing something?

  • dealswelike said,

    @nate – typically you can put your ss number as tax ID

  • Nate said,

    And…of course, the business card is no longer available for the 50,000 points. It’s now 25,000 points for spending $1000 in the first 3 months.

  • Merrie Yosua said,

    I am one of the newbies you referred to… with my latest Rapid Rewards Report it says –
    Companion Pass Qualification
    Qualifying Flights: 2

    what does that mean? while you’re talking about a companion pass good for the remainder of the year plus all of next year.. I look at that and I see I have one free round-trip flight for a companion?

  • Jen said,

    My companion pass expires December 31, 2014. Am I able to book a flight over New Years Eve of 2014 and fly back with my companion on or after January 1, 2015? Or technically since my companion pass expired on the 31st, they could fly to a destination with me for free, but not back?

  • Mike said,

    I’ve searched for the answer to following question but haven’t found any info. If I book a business class seat (I’ll be doing so using points), does my companion also get a business class seat?

  • dealswelike said,

    @Mike – There are no business class seats on Southwest.

  • Travels away said,

    If I book a companion fair and am not able to travel and do not cancel my flight, basically just don’t show, can my companion still fly? Or do I have to be present on the same flight?

  • sk said,

    Hi. I just got my CP. How long can i delay designating my companion, since i am not sure I know who my first companion will be? Can i leave that open till i figure out?
    thanks

  • dealswelike said,

    @sk – you can leave it open until you decide who you want your companion to be!

  • hilary said,

    is there a way to surprise a companion with a flight without them being notified? I am wanting to plan a surprise trip but am not sure how to make it so it won’t show up on this person’s southwest itinerary

  • dealswelike said,

    @hilary – hmmm…. can you see if you can take off their Rapid Rewards number?

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