WN Standard Awards vs RR Points?

 
Old Aug 25, 14, 10:14 pm
  #1  
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WN Standard Awards vs RR Points?

I am trying to decide whether to transfer my Airtran credits to Standard Awards now, or wait until they are automatically converted to RR points in November.

Here's my understanding:

Standard Awards (transfer A+ credits before Nov. 1)
  • -capacity controlled
  • -expire in one year
  • +sometimes available for off-peak flights at last minute when cash/RR points cost would be very high
  • A WN telephone agent told me that if I needed to cancel a Standard Award reservation, the award would still be available for a future flight before the expiration date

RR Points (automatic conversion post Nov. 1)
  • +no capacity control
  • +points don't expire
  • -Redemption very expensive/poor value for last minute flights

Here are the decision principles I have in mind, but would appreciate any feedback from nsx or others:
  1. A+ credits expiring before Nov. 1 should be converted to RR credits before Nov. 1. My wife has a few credits expiring in Oct. Since A+ Elite members can transfer credits, I plan to top off her account with enough credits to create a standard award.
  2. Otherwise I think Standard Awards are useful for last minute travel, but you don't want to create more standard awards than you expect to use within a year.
  3. To the extent I'm not confident of using the awards within a year, I plan to let them transfer into RR points.

    Am I missing something? Thanks
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Old Aug 26, 14, 7:40 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by EWR-6785 View Post
Otherwise I think Standard Awards are useful for last minute travel, but you don't want to create more standard awards than you expect to use within a year.

To the extent I'm not confident of using the awards within a year, I plan to let them transfer into RR points.
That's about the size of it. However I posted this trick yesterday:

Originally Posted by nsx View Post
The November 1, 2014 end of AirTran's A+ Rewards is rapidly approaching. Consider whether you want to convert any of your points to Standard Awards before then. I have found the capacity-controlled Standard Awards very useful when family members call me with requests to help with last-minute changes in their travel plans.

Even if you decide not to create extra Standard Awards, consider this low-risk tactic. Send just 300 points to AirTran and send that 1/4 credit back to Southwest Rapid Rewards by October 31. That will give you a 1/4 credit "seed" toward a Standard Award. You will then have a 12 month long option (starting the day you created this 1/4 credit) to add 18900 points to create your last Standard Award, which will then be usable for one full year.
I recommend creating the 1/4 RR credit for each account in your family, even those with almost no points. You might face a situation in which buying the needed 19000 points for about $500 still beats paying a walk-up fare.

One more observation. When deciding how many Standard Awards you are likely to use, consider the rate at which family members call you with requests to rescue them from their lack of advance planning or their need to retain the flexibility to cancel a trip without locking funds. The former needs Standard Awards, while points are often better for the latter.
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Old Aug 26, 14, 9:07 am
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Don't forget the Two Step

Before November 1 you can extend Standard Awards and Credits by transferring them between systems. 16 Airtran credits = 2 Standard Award flights with one year expiration from the date of creation of the Standard Award.

Old Standard Awards can be "refreshed" by moving them to Airtran Credits and back.

It is also possible if you have one Standard Award Flight and only 8 Airtran credits to transfer the Award Flight to Airtran then transfer the resulting 16 total credits back to Southwest creating new Standard Award Flights with new expiration dates. With a single (or partial credit) you can "top off" the RR Credits creating a new Standard Award which could be transferred to Airtran, if necessary to extend Airtran Credits by creating a Standard Award.

As to how many Standard Awards you can use, keep in mind that you can use them when you have normal flights and the current indication from recent schedule extensions is that Southwest is raising fares significantly across the board. If this is correct then Standard Awards will be a bargain in many situation, unless Southwest cuts availability.

I kind of expect them to retire Standard Awards sometime in 2015 by a one time conversion to points, but that's merely speculation. They could just wait for all of them to be used or expire which should happen not later than November 2016.
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Old Aug 26, 14, 3:01 pm
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Breakeven point?

Thanks for the useful feedback, both in response to my question and your other posts on the board.

Is there a rule of thumb as to the break-even point between using a standard award and paying cash for a ticket? Complicating matters is that I am currently A-list so would earn 1.25X on the paid ticket now, but I won't be able to maintain A-List after this year. \

If I take 300 points for the RR signup bonus to create a 1/4 Airtan credit and then transfer it back to Southwest to seed a Standard Award, don't I risk stranding that credit if not used within a year?
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Old Aug 26, 14, 3:33 pm
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Originally Posted by EWR-6785 View Post
Thanks for the useful feedback, both in response to my question and your other posts on the board.
You're Welcome

Is there a rule of thumb as to the break-even point between using a standard award and paying cash for a ticket? Complicating matters is that I am currently A-list so would earn 1.25X on the paid ticket now, but I won't be able to maintain A-List after this year. \
I don't look at is as cost trade off, but rather situational. I try to use my points/credit for personal flight and pay for business flights. I can deduct the cost of the business tickets. I sometimes use Credit for last minute flights where the cost is very high.

If you do the math I think equivalent ticket price is somewhere around $148.25.

If I take 300 points for the RR signup bonus to create a 1/4 Airtan credit and then transfer it back to Southwest to seed a Standard Award, don't I risk stranding that credit if not used within a year?
Yes you do, but it's only 300 points you risk. You can keep the rest of your points until you need the Flight. Once converted to awards you can't go back.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 11:01 am
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Maybe it is just me but I already have one standard award and I have found it worthless. I will be transferring it back to Airtran so I can just get Southwest points instead. So far when I want to travel would have only been very slightly more expensive on points then the equivalent point cost for a standard award (19,200). Last time I tried to book award travel it was available for just over 21,000 points round trip but no standard awards were available even close to the travel date.

I would think look into availability before anyone considers transferring credits so they can receive standard awards.
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Old Aug 27, 14, 3:19 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by kenban View Post
Maybe it is just me but I already have one standard award and I have found it worthless.
For travel booked far in advance on short to medium distance routes this is essentially correct. To get value from a Standard Award you need either long distance or short notice or both.
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Old Sep 4, 14, 3:04 pm
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Originally Posted by kenban View Post
Maybe it is just me but I already have one standard award and I have found it worthless.
Same here. I will be creating a 1/4 award though just in case.
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Old Sep 5, 14, 2:26 pm
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Excellent info here, thanks!

Are there any nuances to be aware of re "buying" an award flight for a relative?

For example (and correct me if I'm mistaken), my RR points can book an award flight for my sister no problem and have benefit to her even beyond the money she would save due to the flight now being completely cancellable without risk. Now let's suppose the one-way cost exceeds 9600 points. What are the caveats to weigh re converting the points to a certificate first?

1. The cert will have a one-year life.

2? Will the cert be permanently assigned to my sister? Or if she cancelled (the flight booked with the cert), would I have use of that cert later?

3? Other nuances that differentiate from RR point redemptions?
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Old Sep 5, 14, 6:37 pm
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Originally Posted by zceuxbhjutf View Post
Excellent info here, thanks!

Are there any nuances to be aware of re "buying" an award flight for a relative?

For example (and correct me if I'm mistaken), my RR points can book an award flight for my sister no problem and have benefit to her even beyond the money she would save due to the flight now being completely cancellable without risk. Now let's suppose the one-way cost exceeds 9600 points. What are the caveats to weigh re converting the points to a certificate first?

1. The cert will have a one-year life.
Correct.
2? Will the cert be permanently assigned to my sister? Or if she cancelled (the flight booked with the cert), would I have use of that cert later?
If cancelled the Award goes back to the account it was in. Awards can be used for anyone.

3? Other nuances that differentiate from RR point redemptions?
The biggest issue is that the Standard awards are capacity controlled. and we cannot predict how Southwest will choose to control them in the future.
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Old Oct 28, 14, 9:29 pm
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So the end is near. I requalfied for Elite upto OCt 2015 on Airtran which means my A List will be valid for 2015 once a status check is done by southwest in Nov.

I have 15.5 credits. I am a half credit short to get the roundtrip standard award. What is the best strategy to get that half credit? I have nearly 5000 points in my WN account. Can I buy a half credit of Airtran using some of those points and then use the 16 credits to get a Standard Award on WN? Also, how bad is the availability for standard awards if I usually fly to cities like Philly or Boston.
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Old Oct 29, 14, 6:41 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by saneman View Post
I have 15.5 credits. I am a half credit short to get the roundtrip standard award. What is the best strategy to get that half credit? I have nearly 5000 points in my WN account. Can I buy a half credit of Airtran using some of those points and then use the 16 credits to get a Standard Award on WN? Also, how bad is the availability for standard awards if I usually fly to cities like Philly or Boston.
Transfer 900 points from Southwest to Airtran. That gives you 16.25 credits. Transfer 16.25 credits from Airtran to Southwest. That gives you one Standard Award and a seed for a second later. Availability at the last minute is pretty good except for sumer and holidays. Short haul availability is excellent even near peak times. If you ever need to travel on short notice, Standard Awards are very good.
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Old Oct 29, 14, 1:06 pm
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Thanks nsx. Do I transfer them online? Or is it better to do it via phone?
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Old Oct 29, 14, 1:14 pm
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On line usually works instantly.
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Old Oct 29, 14, 1:15 pm
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nsx
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Originally Posted by saneman View Post
Thanks nsx. Do I transfer them online? Or is it better to do it via phone?
Online. See http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/south...l#post23741779
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