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Southwest Updates Rapid Rewards, Increases Companion Pass Requirements

Southwest Updates Rapid Rewards, Increases Companion Pass Requirements
Anya Kartashova

Southwest Companion Pass, a coveted perk among many frequent travelers, will increase earning requirements next year.

Southwest Companion Pass Qualifying Points Go Up

Starting Jan. 1, Southwest Airlines flyers will need to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points, up from 110,000 points, to qualify for the benefit. The segment requirement, which is 100 per calendar year, is not changing for passengers who earn the Pass the old-fashioned way—by flying.

Related: Fall Is Companion Pass Season, and I Don’t Care

Those who earn the perk by applying for co-branded Southwest credit cards will need to change their strategy a little bit. As a reminder, it’s no longer possible to be approved for more than one personal Southwest card, which means those with a business (read: side hustle) have a better chance of earning the Pass.

To earn the majority of the points required, you’d have to sign up for one personal and one business card when the offers are high. Spending dollars count as well, and if you’re short, it means that you’d have to earn the rest by using your card on purchases.

If you fly Southwest frequently, keep an eye out for in-flight credit-card offers—sometimes those are higher than standard public offers.

Points Expiration Policy Is Updated

Southwest has joined the likes of Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and United Airlines and eliminated its mileage expiration policy for all passengers. Effective Oct. 17, Southwest Rapid Rewards points no longer expire.

Up until now, Southwest miles used to vanish after 24 months without earning activity on a Rapid Rewards account. The earning requirement has been lifted, and the miles will remain in your account forever.

Related: How I Keep My Airline Miles from Expiring

Although a welcome change, it’s not that difficult to fly Southwest at least once every two years for most semi-frequent flyers. However, should your travel patterns lighten for any reason, the change will help keep those points protected.

Same-Day Standby Taxes to Apply in 2021

A-List and A-List Preferred members have the option to change their ticket to another departure time on the day of travel at no extra cost. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, passengers looking to fly on a same-day standby flight will be required to cover any additional taxes and fees incurred. It doesn’t matter whether the flight was purchased with cash or miles.

What do you think of the changes Southwest Airlines has implemented?

View Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. partymom44

    October 17, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    We were all geared up to do some rather spendy travel early in January to earn the pass quickly but we will have to rethink that. Fortunately, the resort I booked can be canceled without penalty. While 15,000 points may not feel like much, it is still about a 13% increase overall. Not very happy about this change.

  2. rthib

    October 18, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Glad to see the change. For those who get it from traveling not that big a deal. For those who get it from credit cards will make it a little harder to do that way, which is a good thing.

  3. sdsearch

    October 18, 2019 at 9:34 am

    I disagree with “it’s not that difficult to fly Southwest at least once every two years for most semi-frequent flyers”. It may not be “difficult”, but it may involve more connections, or higher fares, or for some people having to go to a more distant airport (MDW instead ORD which is further if you live in the western suburbs of Chicago, for example).

    But you didn’t have to fly Southwest to keep the miles from expiring. Any way of earning points (including all partners) was extending expiration. So the focus on “difficult” of flying Southwest every two years doesnt make any sense to me.

  4. Stew2

    October 18, 2019 at 10:08 am

    I’m curious about the same day standby taxes as that is a benefit I use frequently. Are these taxes that SWA has been paying to date? New taxes? How are they figured?

  5. snidely

    October 19, 2019 at 12:33 am

    I had a situation a few years ago where I arrived early enuf to catch an early flight – but – would have had to pay a large fee. Flite was half full. Decided to wait the 80 minutes til my scheduled flite. It turned out it was oversold!

  6. Disneymkvii

    October 21, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Ditto, Stew2. I’ve lareayd paid taxes on the original flight, so what taxes might be due if I move to an earlier or later flight of the same Destination and Origin?

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