Southwest Airlines Will Sell Elite Status – And the Prices are Nuts

Like some other major US airlines, Southwest Airlines will sell you the elite qualifying points needed to earn elite status. Their offer to buy status ends Saturday.

A-List is normally earned after 25 flights or 35,000 points. They’ll sell you up to 15,000 points towards this goal.

Here are the benefits what they’re worth:

  • Southwest Airlines ‘A-List’ status gets you priority boarding (a low boarding group number) but you can buy a low number almost as good for $15 per flight. So multiply out how often you fly Southwest.

  • 25% bonus on points-earning. If you actually earned 35,000 points from flying in a year (you didn’t or else you wouldn’t need to buy up!) that would mean 8750 bonus points worth about $114. How much points bonuses are worth depends on how many points you’d naturally earn for your flying next year.

  • 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.

  • It also gets you 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 and Southwest’s regular line hold times aren’t as bad as other carriers in my experience.

So how much should you pay for status? It depends on how much value you’ll get out of that status based on your first 25 flights or 35,000 points worth of flying next year.

Here’s how much they’re charging:

If you were very close in 2017 it could be worth $350 if you’re going to fly even more next year. That saves a mileage run and more than the flight cost it saves your time.

But it’s hard to imagine anyone that will get $1199 value out of A-List status next year.

Terms & Conditions

Purchased tier qualifying points (TQPs) will only be applied toward your A-List qualification for the calendar year ending on December 31, 2017. If you earn A-List status prior to December 31, 2017, you will maintain A-List status for the rest of the 2017 calendar year and all of the 2018 calendar year. Purchased TQPs do not count toward A-List Preferred and/or Companion Pass. The purchase of TQPs is only available during the promotional period of November 30, 2017, at 12:01 a.m. CST through December 30, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. CST. The maximum amount of TQPs a Member may purchase for his/her individual account is 15,000 TQPs. Purchased TQPs are not redeemable Rapid Rewards® points. Purchased TQPs are nonrefundable. Member account information is an estimate for a specific point in time. Upon qualifying for A-List status, you will receive an email within 72 hours of qualification verifying you earned status. Please reference your Rapid Rewards account on® for the most up-to-date information on available points, tier qualifying points or flights, Companion Pass qualifying points or flights. All Rapid Rewards rules and regulations apply and can be found at ©2017 Southwest Airlines Co.

*Where available. **Free same-day standby is not available at Southwest® kiosks. Please see a Customer Service Agent at the airport for this benefit. Free same-day standby will be provided for A-List and A-List Preferred Members traveling prior to the original scheduled departure, between the same city pairs, on the original date of travel, where a seat is available. On flights that do not meet these qualifications, 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. If an A-List or A-List Preferred Member is traveling on a multiple-Passenger reservation, 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.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Wow crazy prices. Gary, would points earned for a Southwest credit card signup count toward A List qualifying points?

  2. The only true value is if you were close to a Companion Pass or Preferred. However:
    “Purchased TQPs do not count toward A-List Preferred and/or Companion Pass.”

    LOL. This does not make any sense to me. Purchasing TQP can’t count towards Companion Pass (or even A-List Preferred), but a pair of CC signups and/or Transferring from Marriott is a-ok?


  3. Jon, FWIW, Transferring from Marriott no longer counts towards CP. But your overall point about the arbitrary nature of their decisions is fair.

Comments are closed.