The Southwest Companion Pass is the best deal in travel for many. But with the New Year there’s a change in what points count towards earning one.
With the major airlines devaluing their programs, I’m finding Southwest more attractive. And of course checked bags are free.
I’m a fan of two key elements of the Southwest program:
- no change or redeposit fees on awards
- a Southwest companion pass after earning 110,000 points in a year
How Does the Southwest Companion Pass Work?
A Southwest Companion Pass lets a companion fly with you free when you travel on Southwest — even when you are flying on a Rapid Rewards award ticket.
You choose the person you want as your companion. When you book your tickets, you have the option to also use the Southwest companion pass for your designated person. (You can also book companion pass travel by phone.) You pay for your ticket, the companion flies for just the cost of security taxes. That’s it.
You can use the Southwest companion pass as many times as you’d like, and you can change your designated companion three times during its validity.
You can earn this by taking 100 flights on Southwest, but who wants to do that? You also receive a Southwest companion pass when/ you earn 110,000 points in a year.
Your flights and credit card bonuses and spend count. Transfers in directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards and purchased points have not counted, however.
Since points from the Southwest Airlines co-brand credit cards count — including signup bonus — that’s been a major part of the strategy of earning a Companion Pass. But there’s a change in how the Companion Pass is earned, in terms of what points still count.
Effective January 1, 2017 transfers from hotel and rental car programs no longer count per the Southwest Rapid Rewards terms and conditions. (HT: Julian Mark Kheel)
Here’s the key passage:
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.
While Chase transfers did not count towards companion pass before, other transfers into Rapid Rewards now do not count either.
That means the workaround of transferring from Chase to Hyatt to Southwest is dead. And so are Marriott Travel Package redemptions for earning a Companion Pass.
You can still get two Southwest credit card bonuses and earn nearly enough points for a companion pass. You can still spend a lot on Southwest cards and earn a companion pass. And you can credit non-flight activity to your account to earn the points you need, for intance online shopping through the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal and earn points for the things you were going to buy anyway.
[…] Effective January 1, 2020 the points required for Companion Pass will rise from 110,000 to 125,000. That’s a 14% increase, and follows a change three years ago where points transfers from hotel and rental car programs no longer count. […]