By now my LUV for Southwest Airlines is evident. And while no change/cancellation fees and free checked bags are a couple of great perks, Southwest happens to hold another gem of a travel perk that keeps me (and my wife) on-board those beautiful red, blue and yellow flying machines, time and time again.
What is this oh-so-valuable travel perk?
The one… the only… the Southwest Companion Pass!
You may have heard about other airlines’ “companion tickets” – like the ones offered for British Airways Visa cardholders, Delta Platinum by American Express cardholders, and Alaska Airlines cardholders, among others, but these are all just one-time companion deals (that come with many more terms and conditions).
The Southwest Companion Pass is so much more than one of these one-and-done deals – let me show you why!
What is the Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass allows the holder (the “ CP Holder”) to designate an individual to fly with the CP Holder (such designated individual, the “Companion”) on Southwest Airlines flights purchased by the CP Holder and booked through Southwest Airlines during the Companion Pass validity period.
The Most Important Question… How can I earn the Companion Pass?
It’s simple. The Companion Pass is earned through flying 100 Southwest flights in a calendar year OR through earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year.
Since flying 100 flights in a year is a tall task (unless you are a heavy business traveler flying 2 times a week), we will focus on the second earning method in tomorrow’s post… Earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points!
When can I use the Companion Pass?
Travel with the Companion Pass has no blackout dates or seat restrictions – if there is an available seat (at ANY level – Wanna Get Away through Business Select) your Companion can travel with you. The CP Holder has to first book and purchase his/her flight in cash or points through Southwest Airlines and then can book the Companion’s ticket.
That’s right – for tickets booked using CASH OR POINTS! Meaning those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points that earned you the “Companion Pass” status can be used for BUY ONE, GET ONE Southwest fares!
Keep in mind – the CP Holder and the Companion must travel together (be booked on the same flights and dates), so if the CP Holder cancels/changes flights, the Companion must as well. A Companion cannot fly as a Companion without the CP Holder, and must pay for a full fare if travelling without the CP Holder.
Once Earned, How long is the Companion Pass Valid?
The Companion Pass is valid for the remaining calendar year in which earned, as well as the following calendar year. For example, if the Companion Pass is earned in June of 2016, it is valid through December 31st, 2017.
Can I change my Companion?
Yes! Southwest allows you to set your Companion, and then change that Companion up to 3 times per calendar year – just call Southwest at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA
To illustrate further how valuable the Southwest Companion Pass is, I figured I would treat all you AYP readers to a little math display:
Southwest Rapid Rewards point value – 1 point equals about 1.5 cents.
Earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points) will provide you with about $1,650 in value (110,000 points x 1.5 cents per point), even without considering the Companion Pass.
The Companion Pass provides you with 2 for 1 Southwest fares using cash, OR POINTS – meaning those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points are now worth $3,300 IN VALUE (110,000 points x 1.5 cents per point x 2)!
That is over $3,000 in value, not even taking into consideration the BOGO fare ability you will still be able to use for flights paid in cash once you have exhausted your 110,000 points.
Need more convincing of the Companion Pas value? How about a firsthand account!?
Since earning the Companion Pass in April of 2015, I have flown with a companion round-trip from Tampa to:
Atlanta (5 times), Austin, Boston, Dallas, Nashville, Providence, Santa Barbara (upcoming), Washington DC
That is a total of 12 round-trip flights – for 2 travelers – all using the Companion Pass and my 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points!
The Southwest Companion Pass is the single most valuable travel reward in the industry. Its value is limited only by the amount of time that it is effective (calendar year earned, plus the following calendar year) and has the ability to provide you and your companion with THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS worth of free travel!
Stay tuned for a follow up post on how you can meet that magic 110,000 Rapid Rewards point threshold and earn yourself this valuable rewards tool!
Happy (BOGO Southwest) Travel!