How To Take Advantage Of 2-for-1 Travel On Southwest Airlines

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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.

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.

southwest airlines seats

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.

Southwest Airlines 737 MAX interior

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.

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, 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.



  1. Legit disclaimer I got a card end of last year and long story short after ~$960 in charges Chase flagged for fraud and while i’ll admit I ignored it for a few weeks because I was annoyed as they were normal charges my billing cycle was the 7th or so and once I cleared it out I missed my initial bonus (I needed 10k points) and was told to pound sand when I tried to argue that I get the points at end of Dec when I prepaid before due date. Cole to think about it, I still haven’t gotten the bonus to post. Southwest must be forecasting headwinds if they actually plan to hand out companion passes here.

  2. In the past couple of years I’ve been flying Southwest regularly, and in preference to other domestic carriers. Maybe 10 or 12 round trips a year. But I’m almost always alone or, if I’m with a family member, it’s usually not the same one.

    I sure hope this perk is still around in the future (3 to 6 years) when I hope to have the ability to travel more frequently with my wife rather than arranging our schedules so we’re not away at the same time.

    For the time being, the companion pass just is not that alluring to me.

  3. Many years ago I was a few miles short for the CP, I called WN, and they gave me the CP,

    I have had the CP for the last 10 years plus, WN has been great, transferring the CP names,

    Really good deal,

  4. Question: On the issue of whether I’m eligible, does anybody know what date counts for “if you have gotten a bonus within the last 24 months.” i.e., if I applied for and was approved for a card approximately 24 months ago and accrued the bonus a month or two after that, any idea what date started the clock on the 24 months? I’m assuming the later date, but hoping not.

  5. It all depends on your life and travel circumstances. The majority of my travel is international, and I do not have a companion I regularly travel with. So to me this deal is of no interest. I’d sign up for a Southwest card if not for 5/24, but doing it when it features a significant welcome bonus, not when the bonus is down and the companion pass is the real draw. I can see that for others it can be a terrific opportunity.

  6. How long does it take from the time you make $4000 in purchases under the new Southwest Visa promotion until you receive the Companion Pass? Is there any way to speed it up once you’ve made the purchases? Is it $4k in purchases or payments to the account? Thanks! I’ve spent $4k and I’d like to start using the companion pass as soon as possible.

  7. I have a SW card. My wife doesn’t. I assume she could apply and get one and I benefit as the companion

  8. I have the same question as DavidW. I have made over $4000 of purchases and have already paid off the full amount to Chase for my Southwest Priority card. Has anyone else done the same and, if so, have you received the 30K WN points and/or the Companion Pass and how long was it between paying Chase for the $4000+ and getting points/companion pass put on your WN account? Does anyone have any verified knowledge about how long it is SUPPOSED to take? (e.g., any written WN guidelines or personal talks with WN agents regarding how long the process takes between meeting the requirements and actually getting the points and companion pass)

  9. I called Chase Cards and the representative said that at the end of your billing cycle, your points accumulated and purchase information are forwarded to Southwest. From there, he said it could take up to 30 days before the benefits (points, companion pass, etc.) appear in your Rapid Rewards account although he said that he had heard of some customers getting the points almost immediately after the close of the billing cycle and that it depends in part on volume. (BTW, I’ve already had the $75 credit for SWA purchases post to my account.) He said that for the companion pass, the key is $4k in purchases, not payment of the $4k, which is consistent with the terms and conditions. My billing cycle closes on 2/1 so I will be watching closely to see how long it takes to get the companion pass on my account. I will probably follow up with Southwest after a day or two if it doesn’t post quickly.

  10. “…the usual tactic is for one person to board early and save a seat for their companion.”

    This isn’t how it works. You can’t save seats on Southwest. However, this is a good option if your companion is willing to take the middle seat.

  11. I got my last companion pass with points from signup bonuses. I’m not clear if you can do that here.

  12. @MikeZZ – That’s not a problem. If she has the pass, he uses his points to book her flight and then she adds him as a companion.
    I do that all the time.

  13. I was confused by some of the comments until I realized they were old. My question is, when do referral points post. My wife can get a card with my referral. My statement closing date is the 9th, and the deadline for the current 100k bonus is 12/7. As long as the referral points post in January, I’ll earn 132,000 points on my first closing date in January–as soon as they post, I’ll have my CP for 2 years.

  14. My daughter canceled her 3 yr old SW personal card 4 days ago.. She applied for a new SW personal plus card 2 days ago. It went pending further review. The recorded message on the Chase application status line said she will get a written decision in 7 to 10 days. I know that is supposed to indicate a highly probable denial letter will be coming. Can she hope to get reconsideration of this application in 7 to 30 days once Chase recognizes her old card is canceled and closed? Should she just reapply 7 days after she closed it or 30 days after? Will the 1st application not have a hard inquiry since they are viewing her as not eligible because the old card was not closed long enough (7-30 day?)

  15. Gary – there’s this caveat deep in your email that implies the 100,000 bonus points DON’T count toward Companion Pass status. ‘* Points earned from an enrollment bonus’ is on the list of what doesn’t count. Can you please verify? Because if bonus points from spend DO count, somebody could get all 3 SW Chase cards, spend $2k on each, and hit 150,000 bonus points and qualify for the CP?
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  16. I read somewhere you have to go with one personal and one business sign up bonus now because chase won’t give you a bonus for two personal cards is–is that right?

  17. My Chase rewards dashboard shows 130k miles pending, and the statement closes in a few days.

  18. January 9th. That was my goal, to see if I could beat you.

    It did cost me about $250 to pay my property taxes using the card, but those miles alone are worth $170. It was that and a referral bonus that did it.

    Thanks for everything you do.

  19. Companion pass hit my SWA account today! Got business bonus on 1/4 after 1/2 statement date and personal card bonus hit today after 1/7 statement date. I thought it would take a little more time for the actual pass to issue. (it used to I think).

  20. Gary, you should do some analysis of this offer versus the more standard offers. With the usual points, you can drive it up to 125k and get almost two years if you get in it. With this offer, you will have to do as many as 90k more miles for another 9 months next year.

  21. Your statements above about Chase UR points transfer seem to conflict- Are Chase points transferred to SW counted towards the CP or not? Thanks.

  22. @Dave A – I am not following what you see as a conflict? Points transferred into Rapid Rewards from Chase do not help qualify for companion pass

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