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The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is arguably the best deal in all of travel. After earning 125,000 points in a year from qualifying sources you can bring a companion along on your Southwest Airlines travels.
Southwest Airlines credit cards are the fastest way to earn a companion pass. I was approved for one of these cards in the fall when there was a somewhat larger offer that required spending $12,000. Now they’re offering a lot more up front for modest spend.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($69 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($149 annual fee)
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card 75,000 bonus points after $5,000 spending on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open ($99 annual fee)
Here’s everything you need to know to take advantage of companion travel — usually for just an extra $5.60 for the second passenger, whether you are buying a ticket for yourself or even redeeming points.
What is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
A Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is a benefit that allows you to travel with a person that you designate, whenever you are flying Southwest Airlines on a paid or points redemption ticket. The companion’s travel only costs taxes, generally $5.60 for a one way booking.
How do you earn a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
It takes earning 125,000 eligible points in a calendar year to receive a companion pass. The pass will be valid for the rest of the calendar year in which it is earned, and for the entire following year.
What points count towards earning a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass?
You need to earn 125,000 points in a calendar year for a Southwest Airlines companion pass and most Rapid Rewards points that you earn count towards that total.
Points earned from paid Southwest Airlines flights, from credit card spend (and even from the credit card signup 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 (and this is useful because if you aren’t concerned about earning hotel points or elite status credit for your stay, you can earn thousands of miles per night).
Points that do not count towards the 125,000 needed for a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass 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
- 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.
In what situations can you add a companion to your reservation?
Since you don’t have to add a companion to your travel at the time of booking, 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.)
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.
Are there any rules for companion travel?
The person designated as your companion has to be ticketed and actually travel on the same flights you are on. If you change your flight then your companion’s flight has to be changed also. If you cancel your flight, your companion cannot still travel without you. Companion travel does not earn points.
Can you transfer Chase points to Southwest, and double the value with a Companion Pass?
Yes! For instance 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.
How do you book travel for your companion?
It’s super easy to add a companion to your travel under a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. Book your ticket, using points or money, and then you can add your companion on the website or even just have Southwest do it for you over the 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.
Can I cancel or make changes to bookings with a companion?
Yes, 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.
Can I change who is designated as my companion?
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.
You can do this again for a third companion (or to revert from companion two back to companion one) and then do it again for a fourth companion.
Can I book a ticket with a companion now and travel after the companion pass expires?
No. All companion travel has to be completed while you have an active companion pass. If you book travel for yourself past the date your companion pass expires you will need to wait until you’ve earned a new one in order to add your companion.
That’s true even if you book a roundtrip ticket that starts prior to the expiration of your companion pass, with the return portion of the trip occurring after expiration.
Does my companion get elite status or early bird check-in benefits?
Companion travelers now get the same boarding priority as the person sponsoring their trip. So if that person has elite status, the companion boards as though they too were an elite member.
One caveat is that if the Companion Pass holder buys a Business Select fare, the companion won’t get an A1-15 boarding position with them. Instead the companion will get one of the first available boarding slots starting with A16. (The same applies if the Companion Pass member buys upgraded boarding at the gate, the companion doesn’t get A1-15 that way either.)
Southwest Airlines doesn’t have pre-assigned seats. You take an empty seat when you board. So boarding priority matters.
Can a lap infant travel free with a passenger who also has a companion?
Yes! If you are traveling, and you have a companion, you can still bring a lap infant — all for the price of one ticket (either cash or points).
Am I eligible for a Southwest Airlines credit card?
All of the Southwest cards are subject to ‘5/24’, meaning that Chase will generally only approve customers who have had fewer than 5 new cards in the last 24 months.
If you currently have a personal Southwest card you aren’t eligible for a bonus on one of their personal cards, or if you have gotten a bonus from one within the last 24 months.
Which Southwest Airlines card should I get?
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card represents the best overall value for someone who flies Southwest — which someone who has a Companion Pass certainly will.
This $149 annual fee card provides a $75 Southwest® travel credit each year; 25% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies; and 4 upgraded Boardings per year when available (when A1-15 boarding positions are offered at the gate, buy it and you’ll receive a statement credit for the charge); and 7,500 anniversary points each year.
Of course the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card has the lowest annual fee of the three cards at $69, if that’s your primary concern.