Southwest Extends Companion Pass, Status-Qualifying Year Through January

With the virtual shutdown of Southwest Airlines for a week, customers weren’t able to fly, and that means they weren’t able to take those last trips that would have earned their status for 2023 or taken advantage of their soon-to-expire companion passes. So Southwest is,

  • Giving members one extra month to qualify for status. Flights in January 2023 will both add to their 2022 travel totals for status, and count towards earning status in 2023 for 2024.

  • Giving members with December 31, 2022-expiring companion passes an extra month (January 2023) to use those companion passes. They may have planned travel for the holidays in 2022, and Southwest doesn’t want those customers booking new travel to have to spend more to do so.

I managed to fly Southwest successfully this week, using my companion pass which expires December 31 of next year. My strategy is always to earn the companion pass as early in January as possible so that it lasts nearly two years (a companion pass is valid for the rest of the year in which it is earned, and the full next year). Credit card initial bonuses count, so does credit card spend, and hotels booked through the Southwest portal as well.

There’s no question Southwest is going to need to do more. As the airline reboots its operation, it’s going to take time to earn back trust. They will get there, but part of getting there is showing reliability for a period of time and giving customers a reason to come back.

It’s almost certain that their forward bookings have fallen off, they have a lot of empty scheduled seats in the coming weeks, so we’re going to see some attractive pricing. Southwest should also aggressively lean into its loyalty program to encourage their best customers to fly – double points, double qualifying credits, accelerated companion pass earn (even for temporary periods, as they’ve done in the recent past). Southwest should make it exciting to return to their skies.

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. My wife’s companion pass was scheduled to expire December 31st, 2022. I just logged into her account and it still shows that expiration date.

    Are there data points that indicate these one month extensions have already occurred are are reflected in their accounts?

  2. The new 2023 companion pass also includes two dedicated departure gate seats to sleep in for up to 7 days/6 nights while Southwest “reboots” it’s entire network.

    Not valid at Nashville, where gate agents will call the police on anyone stranded by multiple cancelled flights with a valid boarding pass.

  3. Multiple years in a row now WN had penalized me for earning companion pass early, I’m really getting tired of it. They consistently push out end dates at the last minute, what point is long term loyalty if they continually reward the last minute loyal flyers?

  4. The Right Way: When HP discovered a flaw in a chip in a calculator, its response was proactive and immediate and fully compensating. Before consumers were even aware of the problem, HP contacted them and offered to replace every single calculator (whether affected or not) with a new one . . . and no questions asked.

    The Wrong Way: Lufthansa’s five (lame) incremental apologies for one issue. This incremental approach had the appearance of Lufthansa only doing the least it has to do to put it behind itself . . . as opposed to being sincere.

    Southwest seems to have taken the Lufthansa approach rather than HP’s approach. Doing the least it has to as opposed to sincerely making it right. But, as one person said, a year from now, after a lot of yelling and screaming, nothing much will have been done and everyone will be back to their same old habits. Kind of like people hating Marriott but then bragging they’ve just renewed Platinum status.

  5. Only flights count in January ’23 for CPS or will RRCC points on my January statement also count? Need clarification.

  6. I’m one of the procrastinator earners and will hit 125,800 points on January 8th so this is huge news BUT any word on if the change to need 135k for a companion pass will still be in effect starting January 1st?

  7. @Gary – I’ve had multiple calls with SWA regarding status A-list qualifying (I was one flight short due to a cancellation)
    They told me that my A-list status is extended to Jan 31, ’23 in case I have any flights in Jan while they get things sorted out. More importantly, ANY CANCELLED flights from Dec 20th – Jan 2nd WILL count toward your flight totals for 2022.
    I was told an email will be coming out in the next week or so stating as much.

  8. Where is your proof that they’re extending this because there’s nothing on their website stating anything about extending companion pass

  9. All – here is what I got in response to an email I sent a few days ago about status. Please note the last paragraph:

    “We sincerely apologize if your recent or upcoming travel plans have been impacted by our irregular operations. Our Purpose is to connect People to what is important in their lives, and we know your time is valuable. Our operation is improving and we are working diligently and safely to restore normal flight schedules as quickly as possible.
    In an effort to ease your travel experience, we have extended your 2022 Companion Pass®, and/or A-List, or A-List Preferred status through January 31, 2023. This extension will allow you to complete your disrupted travel with your current tier status. (If you have requalified for tier status in 2023, your previously earned expiration date will supersede the January 31, 2023 extended expiration.)
    Additionally, we are identifying Members whose disrupted travel would have qualified them for A-List, or A-List Preferred, and/or Companion Pass in 2023, and will provide further communication soon. “

  10. I’m one of the folks who said, “a year from now, after a lot of yelling and screaming, nothing much will have been done and everyone will be back to their same old habits.” This latest extension of only one month suggests that management at Southwest believes the same thing.

    I’m beginning to think it will take less than a year for those new 737 Max planes to be full. Some rock-bottom fares to Florida during Spring Break season should do the trick. If someone has a companion pass, loves flying WN, and has a nice stash of points, it’s probably worthwhile to roll the dice for non-emergency travel. After all, the odds are they can’t screw up this badly again.

  11. I’m trying to figure this out. I’m one segment away from keeping my A-List status. I was forced to buy a MDW roundtrip ticket on Dec 27 in order to keep my status. My outbound flight was good to go, but my return flight was cancelled. I received text notifications 36 hours prior to my trip that the return flight was cancelled. Instead of getting stuck in Chicago for how many days, I just cancelled the entire trip. Based on your report, will I be compensated as in, be grated my initiated segments that I was going to take or am I screwed because I was proactive and cancelled my trip 24 hours prior to takeoff?

  12. Justin, read the last paragraph of the email that Patrick received and posted. It appears that SWA is trying to determine those individuals who would have qualified but for the snafu. It sounds as if you’ll qualify. But, is SWA really the airline you really want? If yes, Texan@heart is the color commentator who called the play right: It’s going to be a 15-yard penalty but replay the down, go long the next play (Spring Break scenario) and they’re in better field position (with all the same players on the field). No one learns.

  13. I recently qualified for both SW personal and business cards and was looking to fulfill requirements in January so I could get companion pass for 2023-2024. Does this mean I should wait until February to meet these requirement otherwise risk that I will have earned companion pass for 2022-2023

  14. My CP was extended to 1/31/2023. I hope that I now also have a one-month extension to accumulate the points needed for the 2023-2024 CP!

  15. Don’t understand why people impose their loud and unruly infants on other paying passengers. It’s extremely disrespectful, rude and ignorant. If you have an infant, find another mode of transportation or stay home. Don’t expose them to me when I’m paying for a quiet and peaceful flight.

  16. @Ron- what does that comment have to do with this thread?

    Also your comment is very ignorant and entitled. People with kids have places to go too and have just as much of a right to travel the way they like.

    Don’t forget your youth. And if you don’t like it, weer some headphones or ear plugs since you are the one with the problem.

    Hope you have the day you deserve.

  17. I just got off the phone with Southwest. They confirmed that January flights will be counted toward 2022 A-List/A-List Preferred status but they will not count toward Companion Pass. If you had 92 flights in 2022 and 8 flights in January 2023, you will not requalify for 2022 since January does not count. Can you confirm that January counts toward CP as mentioned in the article’s title?

  18. Based on Gary’s post, I called Southwest on Dec 30. The agent echoed Gary’s statement that “Flights in January 2023 will … add to their 2022 travel totals for status”. The agent was even kind enough to record a note in the case# associated with my call. As a result, I cancelled a last-minute ticket I had booked for Dec 31 to preserve my A-list status and instead flew that leg on Jan 2. Consequently I was one flight short of the 25 I needed.

    Everyone’s 2022 A-list was extended through January, but I was surprised that mine ended on Feb 1. I wrote Southwest and explained the situation and provided the case#. After a long delay, I received a form response: “…We understand it’s frustrating when a Customer is only a small number of points or flights shy of qualifying for their desired status. That said, we are unable to make exceptions as we must uphold our Rapid Rewards program rules in order to continue offering benefits to our qualifying Members in the future… Julian Blake, Southwest Airlines”

    Boo, hiss.

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