While Southwest isn’t my airline of choice, there’s a lot I respect about the airline. For example, I love that they don’t charge for checked bags, and also appreciate their lack of change fees. Furthermore, one aspect of their frequent flyer program is arguably the best deal in domestic travel — I’m talking about Southwest’s Companion Pass.
What is Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass lets you take a companion with you for free whenever you fly. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on an award ticket or revenue ticket, you can always have someone fly with you just for the cost of taxes. It’s an incredible, one-of-a-kind deal.
You can use it an unlimited number of times, though can only change your designated companion at most a couple of times per year (so you can’t have a different companion on every trip).
There are two ways to earn Companion Pass, and that’s either by taking 100 flights on Southwest in a calendar year, or by earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year. However, as of today, Southwest is changing which points count towards Companion Pass.
Southwest is changing Companion Pass qualification
Southwest has just updated their terms & conditions in regards to what points count towards the 110,000 required for Companion Pass. The terms now read as follows:
Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners.
Purchased points, transferred points transferred between members, points converted from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.
What has changed is that points transferred from hotel and car rental partners no longer count towards Southwest Companion Pass, while they previously did.
Arguably one of the best ways to earn points towards Southwest Companion Pass was through Marriott’s Hotel + Air Packages, where you can redeem Marriott points partly for airline points and partly for free nights. For 270,000 Marriott Rewards points you could get 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points plus seven free nights at a Category 1-5, which is more than enough for maintaining Southwest Companion Pass.
However, going forward those kinds of transfers won’t count anymore. This change doesn’t really come as a surprise, especially given that points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards already didn’t count towards Companion Pass.
This no doubt makes it more difficult to earn Companion Pass, though I think these kinds of changes were inevitable. This is one of the most generous offers out there for domestic travel, so it’s no surprise that they’re making it more difficult to earn. Points earned through Southwest’s credit cards (including the sign-up bonuses) will continue to count towards Companion Pass.
Are you surprised and/or impacted by these changes?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)