Southwest Airlines Offering Status Matches

If I were a Southwest Airlines elite frequent flyer who spent as much as $1199 to buy up to the status I don’t think I’d love them giving it away to other airline elites for free.

Of course last fall they were doing just that for California residents. And they have long offered a ‘status challenge.’ Status matches and challenges have a long history, many of the world’s airlines do it, here’s how to get matched.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards has a new campaign to attract other airlines’ best customers.

They’ll give you 90 days of elite status if you have status with another US-based airline, and you can extend that status for a year with six one way flight segments within 90 days of confirmation of your enrollment for this promotion.

Southwest is telling the media that (1) at this point the offer targets residents of Washington, Atlanta and San Diego and (2) “Rapid Rewards members have to receive program emails to get the offer.” However those restrictions are not included in the offer terms and conditions.

Here are the benefits of A List status:

  • Priority boarding (a low boarding group number) better than the low number you buy for $15 per flight through Early Bird check-in.

  • 25% bonus on points-earning. If you actually earned 35,000 points from flying in a year that would mean 8750 bonus points worth about $114.

  • Free standby. Southwest doesn’t have change fees but if you want to get on a different flight day of departure – if you don’t have status – you’ll be buying up to the then-current fare. So standby is useful, but only on routes where Southwest offers several flights. On my primary route of Washington National – Austin they have only one flight a day (and they are the only ones legally permitted to fly it) so standby would help not at all. In Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles for instance this is a meaningful benefit.

  • Priority check-in and security (but if you have PreCheck and don’t often check bags this isn’t worth much) and a reservations phone number (for however often you call though Southwest’s regular line hold times aren’t as bad as other carriers in my experience.

Southwest says it may take 12 business days to verify submissions which is simply too long if they’re looking to acquire top customers.

Still, the CEO of American Airlines says his carrier will never offer the flexibility of Southwest. Maybe you want to move over? This makes it easier.

(HT: DCResidentForLife)

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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  1. This is a no brainer – especially as I’ve got multiple trips booked this summer. The free priority boarding is a huge perk.

  2. Status matches, does that mean if I tell them I have no status on United, then they’ll beat me too?

  3. Very useful for me since my home airport is a huge Southwest base.and I have a flight coming up, and with the sales keeping it with quick weekend trips shouldn’t be too hard

  4. To be honest – the free standby benefit on Southwest isn’t nearly as generous as they make it sound (esp. compared to AA’s free same-day standby). Read the fine print below:

    **Free same-day standby is not available at Southwest kiosks. Please see a Customer Service Agent at the airport for this benefit. New flight must depart within two hours of original scheduled departure, between the same city pairs, and on the original date of travel. On flights outside of the two hour free same-day standby window, A-List and A-List Preferred Members will receive priority standby and will be required to pay the difference in fare if a seat becomes available. Free same-day standby and priority standby will not be provided for non-A-List or non-A-List Preferred Members in the same reservation.

    So you only have a 2 hour window for free standby, which pretty much cuts out most of the options out there except for a few focus city pairs. Anything else and you have to pay fare difference. Nice to get the lower boarding positions but not something I would go out of my way to keep.

  5. Gino – more recently, WN’s same-day standby policy for A-list members became more generous. Now you can stand by for any earlier flight the same day. (Also, as a recent A-list qualifier, I was pleasantly surprised to find I almost always get a boarding position between A16 and A30. And, in case of irrops or last-minute flight changes, A-listers can board between the A and B groups – which can mean the difference between a pleasant flight and being squeezed into the last middle seat available. Personally, I’m very pleased, and am going to make sure I retain A-list status.)

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