Extending the Life of Southwest Free Tickets

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This is post #9 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

UPDATE: This no longer works since the merger in December 2014.

Free tickets were part of the old Rapid Rewards 1.0 program where after you accumulated 16 credits you earned a free roundtrip ticket on Southwest. Those free tickets are now fading away since you no long earn credits, but instead points and the redemption depends on the cost of the ticket. Points do not expire, however, free tickets do.

If you still have free tickets from the old program, you should know that they expire 12 months after they were credited to your account. There is a great way to extend these certificates, however, by transferring credits back and forth between your Southwest and AirTran account (even if you do not have an AirTran account, just set one up simply for this purpose).

So let’s say you have a roundtrip award that is set to expire on February 1, 2014. Or even if you have two one-way awards set to expire. This means you must use the award to fly by this date, not simply book your free award by this date. You have no need for a flight in the next few weeks and are bummed about it expiring. Through this workaround, you can extend the life of your award by one-year from the date you do this. So if you follow these instructions today, that award that is currently set to expire on February 1, 2014 will expire January 11, 2015 (one year from today’s date). So here are the steps:

  • Go to the Southwest’s transfer points to AirTran site here
  • In the “Awards & Certificates section” select the standard award to transfer to AirTran – if it is a one way award it will transfer into 8 A+ credits and if it is a roundtrip award it will transfer 16 A+ credits
  • If you have two one way awards, transfer both of them separately into your AirTran account
  • Sign into your AirTran account and you will notice that you have 16 A+ credits
  • Go back to the Transfer site (from step #1) and transfer your 16 A+ credits into two Southwest standard certificates
  • Those standard certificates in Southwest will take an expiration date of one year from the date you do this

Some things to note:

  • This will not work if you only have a free one-way flight
  • Transferring from Southwest to AirTran the names DO NOT need to match, so if you have a free one-way flight, and a family member (or friend, whomever) has another free one-way flight, you can transfer the two one-ways into the same AirTran account and then transfer those 16 A+ credits back into Southwest to extend the life for one year – the two one-ways will now be in the same Southwest account though

I have done this on multiple occasions on free flights that were set to expire in my account and family members accounts. Just do not let your free flights expire!!!

Current Southwest Credit Card Offer: There are four different Southwest credit cards in total, two personal and two business versions. The main differences is that the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog post.

Comments

  1. Are you sure transferring from A+ to SW still works? I don’t see an option to convert A+ credits into a SW standard award, instead, it’s only showing the conversion into SW credits, with the same expiration date.

    Might be dead?

    • @Sang – I actually have tickets I need to extend so will try it tonight and report back. People reported it working yesterday, so it should still be working.

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