Southwest Companion Pass Has A Very Bad Week

Southwest Rapid Rewards started the year on a bad foot, when as of January 1 they changed the qualification criteria for Companion Pass without any advance notice. In order to earn Companion Pass (which lets you take a companion with you on all Southwest flights for free) you need to earn 110,000 qualifying points per year, though Southwest changed what type of points qualify towards that total.

Specifically, with this change, points transferred from hotel and car rental partners no longer qualify towards Companion Pass. The change as such was reasonable enough, though I think Southwest should do better than to make a change like this without notice, especially since some people had already transferred points in anticipation of earning Companion Pass in 2017.

Well, that hasn’t been the only Southwest Companion Pass drama this week. Earlier today Southwest sent out an email to Rapid Rewards members with the subject line “Congrats! You earned Companion Pass.”


The email congratulates members for qualifying for Companion Pass. The only problem is that the email was sent out to a lot of members who didn’t actually requalify for Companion Pass. Ouch.

Airlines make mistakes, though it’s especially unfortunate when it’s regarding something that’s already a sore topic.

This has to be especially awkward for those who transferred points in anticipation of Companion Pass, then after the fact found out that those points won’t count towards Companion Pass due to the rule change, and then still received an email saying they earned Companion Pass.

Southwest is apparently sending out emails to members apologizing for the mistake.


  1. Got a similar email saying I re-qualified for A List, only to be sent a follow up saying it was in error. Any precedent for SWA making it right? Any idea who we can report this to/complain to?

  2. This could create some really bad PR for them. I’m almost surprised they’re not honoring the emails (depending on how widespread the glitch was). I’d certainly want some kind of compensation if I received that email after transferring Marriott points.

  3. Southwest has backtracked the policy on hotel points transfers until March 31.. They have given a chance to earn CP till March 31st..

  4. I got the email and even called Southwest to confirm that i did indeed have the companion pass. The rep said I did and even updated my companion. I sadly got the email saying it was an error a few hours later.

  5. @Josh: I understand striking while the iron is hot, but you want to extract compensation from an airline which made a mistake and then quickly rectified it with no harm done to you? Did you book a flight with SWA after getting the email (and before receiving the apology) in anticipation of using your new status? If so, I’d say maybe you’re entitled to priority boarding on your next flight … whether or not you want to waste 15-20 minutes of your life calling in to board 5 minutes early is up to you. If you took no action and you just want “compensation,” I recommend you take a long look in the mirror and then slap the shit out of yourself.

  6. Southwest just really doesn’t have a strong grasp on the finer nuances of communication, do they? I think they’ve gotten really complacent and take their customers (oh, sorry, “Customers”; the rules of English capitalization of non-proper nouns don’t apply to them) for granted these days.

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