If you read this blog regularly, you probably already know that I am a huge fan of the Southwest Companion Pass! For those new to the Companion Pass – it allows a friend/family member/companion to fly with you for FREE an UNLIMITED number of times during the life of the pass. That means that every time I fly Southwest (which is quite often!), my husband, daughter, mom, sister, or a friend has flown with me for free! And I’ve taken quite a bit of flights on Southwest over the years, saving me a ton of money!
Since I’ve had the pass for about 10+ years now, I know the in’s and out’s of the pass. But even knowing everything about the pass, I still made a HUGE mistake a few weeks back! My husband was flying to California for a work conference so I decided to meet him out there with my 4 year old daughter. We booked our flights about 4 months prior to travel, so this trip had been planned for a decent amount of time. Since it was school vacation week, ticket prices were relatively high so I booked with points and checked the prices every day to see if the price went down. And since I had the Companion Pass my daughter was free, so that helped with the high ticket prices. If the price of a Southwest ticket decreases, you can re-book and get your money back. Fortunately a few weeks later, the price went down and I was able to get about 3,000 points back – perfect!
Fast forward a few months and our vacation was only a few days away. I happened to be on my Southwest account and noticed that I never added my daughter onto the flight as my Companion. This is typically not a problem as you can add your Companion onto the flight at any point — any time from when you book your ticket until the flight departs (although you might need to add it on a few hours prior, I am not 100% sure to be honest). Unfortunately though, when I went to add her as my Companion, the flight was sold out. Literally, the one criteria to being able to use the pass is there has to be at least one seat left for sale. And here I was on a sold out flight! It was the Friday leading into Spring Break so I was not surprised, although in a massive panic! I realized when I re-booked our flights month ago (due to the price decreasing) I never added her back onto the flight. Southwest requires you to cancel your Companion’s reservation when a change is made to your reservation and then requires you to manually add them back onto the flight. Southwest will not book your Companion Pass automatically!
So we are four days prior to departure and my 5 year old daughter does not have a seat! And every other flight that day was either sold out or triple in price. Southwest would also not make any exceptions for adding her onto my flight or change us to a different flight that had seats available without charging us an arm and a leg. Which I totally understand as this is their policy. While I was in a panic I was still optimistic that we’d be able to get her on the flight. We just needed one seat to open up. My husband and I literally checked the Southwest site every few minutes for an entire day and fortunately we were able to snag a seat! It actually ended up that 5 seats opened up the day before travel so seats do open up quite often on Southwest since you can cancel/change a flight for no fee.
While I am glad it worked out at the end of the day for us, this was definitely a lesson learned to make sure to add my Companion Pass onto my reservation immediately after making it! Southwest makes it incredibly easy to do as well online!
Have you ever been burned by a sold out Southwest flight?