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.