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 from qualifying sources in a normal calendar year you can bring a companion along on your Southwest Airlines travels usually for just taxes.

The three Southwest Airlines personal credit cards all have offers to earn 80,000 Rapid Rewards points as an initial bonus, the most they’ve ever offered.

  • Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 9 months.

Meet the spending requirement – and it’s modest, just $2000 over 3 months and for the full bonus you have 9 months – and you’ll have a minimum of 90,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. With new biggest-ever offers from Chase that get you most of the way there, it’s a great time to prepare for a 2021 and 2022 filled with great travel deals.

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. That’s why it’s the perfect time to get a Southwest Airlines credit card and start this journey – earn the companion pass in early 2021, and you’ll have it for nearly two years instead of just one.

  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 Reserve® 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 earned my companion pass before my daughter turned two, which meant I could redeem a ticket for myself, have my wife as my companion, and still bring our daughter free.

  11. There’s a Southwest card bonus right now that gets you most of the way to a companion pass — and over $1200 in travel. The value of a Southwest point is effectively doubled when using those points and traveling with a companion on a companion pass, letting you net about $2400 in value after earning the bonus on a new card.

  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!

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee ($69) and is the one to get if you’re not a regular flyer. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the best card if you’re a regular Southwest flyer — its $149 annual fee brings a $75 travel credit with Southwest and 4 A1-15 upgraded boarding reimbursements per year.

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 advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. In the last month or so I cancelled a personal SW card and a business SW card I had obtained at the same time just over two years ago (done at that time to get the CP from sign-up bonuses). That CP expires 6/2021 (after the generous SW extension) and I’d like to do the same thing again in a few months. I haven’t had much new app activity in the last 2 years so I’m fine from a 5/24 standpoint. What is your opinion about how Chase might view this type of re-application?

  2. The CP is not so valuable when nobody is flying, but the signup bonuses are a no-brainer and the points don’t expire if you use the card.

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