12 Things I Love About The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass

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The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is arguably the best deal in all of travel. After earning 125,000 eligible points in a calendar year from qualifying sources you can bring a companion along on your Southwest Airlines travels usually for just an extra $5.60 for the second passenger. And right now it’s easy to earn, since you can get there with a single credit card’s initial bonus.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card has a new 100,000 point offer that earn you enough points for a Companion Pass as soon as you’ve spent enough to earn the bonus.

  • 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.

Your $25,000 spend can earn you 125,000 points or more, generating a companion pass for the rest of 2020 and for all of 2021. And you have 125,000 points which – doubled via the Companion Pass – which buys about $3750 worth of travel.

Here are 12 things I love about Southwest’s companion pass:

  1. Get more than a year’s validity on your companion pass. Once you earn a companion pass it’s valid for the rest of the calendar year in which it is earned, and for the entire following year.

  2. Credit card points count Points earned from paid Southwest Airlines flights, from credit card spend (and even from the credit card initial bonus), and points from most Southwest Airlines partner activity counts. That even includes online purchases made through the Southwest Airlines shopping portal.

    If you make a purchase from 1-800-Flowers that earns Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points, those points count towards a Companion Pass. If you book a hotel through Rocketmiles and earn Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points those points generally count towards a Companion Pass.

    Points that do not count include purchased points; points transferred from someone else’s account; points transferred in from another loyalty program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, a hotel program, or a car rental program or other partner like e-miles; points earned from an enrollment bonus in the Rapid Rewards program; bonus points generally (other than bonuses earned from the Southwest credit cards), for instance if Rocketmiles is running a bonus promotion the extra points may post as non-qualifying.

  3. You can add a companion later. Most any Southwest Airlines flight you’re on is eligible. If your company booked your ticket you can add a companion. If you booked your ticket with points you can add a companion. (The ticket doesn’t even need to have been purchased using your points.)

  4. You can add a companion even if the cheap tickets on your flight are sold out. It doesn’t even matter if the fare you purchased is still available or if the price of travel has gone up. As long as there is still a seat for sale on your flights you can add a companion.

  5. Doubles the value of Chase points. Points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card transfer to Southwest. If you have a Companion Pass you can book yourself travel using these points, and then add your companion to the flights. That effectively doubles the value of the Rapid Rewards points you’ve just transferred in.

  6. You can add a companion online or by phone. When you have a companion pass your reservations will have a link underneath them called “Add Companion.” It’s right under the flight itinerary. Click the link, add the passenger information, and confirm. You’re all set. You can also call Southwest Airlines reservations and ask the phone agent to add your companion. This can be accomplished any time as long as Southwest Airlines is still selling tickets for your flights.

  7. You can make changes to a companion itinerary for free. You can cancel or make changes to bookings with a companion. And Southwest Airlines does not have change fees, so the full value of your ticket gets applied to the new itinerary you want to book.

    First cancel your companion’s reservation since they cannot fly without you. Then change your ticket. Once that’s complete you can add your companion to your new booking.

  8. Change your companion up to 3 times a year You can designate one person at a time to be your companion, and you can make a change to that designation up to 3 times per year. That means you can have up to four different companions over the course of a year. (Although if you pick the same person twice that still counts as one of your changes.)

    You can choose your initial companion online, just ‘enter companion info’ in your profile. You’re then able to make bookings for your companion when you travel. If you want to change your companion you need to make sure your existing companion doesn’t have any companion pass flights booked. If they do, the companion bookings need to be cancelled. Then just ring up Southwest and ask them to change your companion.

  9. Save seats for your companion. If you have elite status or buy one early bird check-in you can board, and Southwest has no policy against saving seats on board for your companion. You don’t need to buy them early bird check-in too.

    The reason this matters is that Southwest Airlines doesn’t have pre-assigned seats. You take an empty seat when you board. However when people are traveling together, while Southwest doesn’t have an official policy on this, the usual tactic is for one person to board early and save a seat for their companion.

    Southwest Airlines 737 MAX interior

  10. This stacks with a free lap infant. I’m keen on getting a companion pass now, while my daughter is still so young. I can redeem a ticket for myself, have my wife as my companion, and we can still bring our daughter free until she’s two.

  11. There’s a Southwest card bonus right now that gets you a companion pass on its own — and nearly $3750 in travel.

    Since a Southwest point covers about 1.5 cents apiece in travel, effectively doubled when using those points and traveling with a companion on a companion pass, you’re getting about 3 cents per point or nearly $3750 worth of travel just for that card’s initial bonus and the spend required to earn it.

  12. Use your companion ticket to Hawaii or to Mexico or the Caribbean, Southwest isn’t just a domestic airline operating in the lower 48 states anymore!

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Not to kick a gift horse, but things I hate about companion pass:

    (1) Useless for single people (I have many friends who couldn’t use it)
    (2) Change/designation process doesn’t work well for families (I may fly with one child one week and another the next week, and then my spouse)
    (3) Not very useful when you have limited vacation time and overseas trips planned (no time to use it)
    (4) Doesn’t save money for family of 4 on overpriced routings (i.e. when WN offers only full fare tickets over Thanksgiving)
    (5) Hard to earn unless you can do 2 credit card apps (mindful of 5/24 and other rules) or are willing to charge significant amounts with 1.3% return which is less than 2% cash or transferable points.

    Of course this is a big deal for Gary and was for me when my first child was <2 years old as you can essentially fly 3 people for the price of 1, on fully changeable tix. But it become less useful when your family grows or you want to fly in E+ comfort to Hawaii or transcon, and your big trips are to Europe and Asia…

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