My absolute favorite perk in the travel world is the Southwest Companion Pass. With this pass, a companion can fly with you for free (plus taxes) an unlimited number of times for the life of the pass. It truly is an unbelievable deal and something that I have taken advantage of for the past 12 years. Unfortunately though, the pass is only valuable if you are actually flying Southwest, and right now, most people are not traveling. (And should not be traveling unless absolutely necessary).
Once you earn the 125,000 qualifying points required, the pass is yours for the rest of the year, plus the entire following year through Dec. 31. This means if you earned the pass in 2019, it doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2020 and if you earned the pass already in 2020, it doesn’t expire until Dec. 31, 2021. I personally earned my pass within the first week of January this calendar year and although I was lucky enough to already use it twice — once to go skiing in Park City and once for a family vacation to Florida — my pass is sitting dormant right now. I have already canceled two trips where I would have used the pass and who knows how long this shelter in place will go on for.
Will the Southwest Companion Pass be extended due to Coronavirus?
As of now, Southwest has not made any announcements as to what will happen for pass holders. Will they extend the pass if it is set to expire this year? What about next year? They’ve already extended Travel Fund Vouchers for those expiring and are offering customers to change their flights without a fare increase. So why no word on the Companion Pass right now?
As long as I’ve been flying Southwest, which has been for the past 20+ years, they have always had the customers best interest at heart. They are one airline that was always willing to make exceptions and extend goodwill gestures. They truly care about the customer experience and definitely do not want to see Companion Passes go unused. For example, a few years ago, someone I know who had the Companion Pass had some health issues which grounded the individual from flying for most of the year. At that time, I called Southwest’s customer service line and they were very willing to extend the Companion Pass another year with a doctors note.
Related: Up to 100,000 bonus points with the Southwest credit card
Based on that one off situation and the fact that they try to work with their customers as best as they can, I suspect we will see an extension. Although since there is no end date on when this is all ending, my assumption is they are waiting to see when people are back up in the air so they can determine what type of extension is necessary.
My Southwest Companion Pass predictions
I have absolutely zero insider information or knowledge, but here are my predictions on what is to come regarding the using and earning the pass:
They will lower the amount required to earn the Companion Pass for 2020/2021. For those that are trying to earn the pass this year (which will not expire until Dec. 31, 2021), I wouldn’t be surprised if they lessen the requirement. My gut says maybe it will go back to the previously required 110,000 points for now — or possibly less.
I am also going to go out on a limb and say that those that earned the pass for the 2019/2020 year will receive an entire full year extension. If this goes on through the end of June, I am also going to predict that those who have already earned the pass for this year and next, will also receive another years extension. Or, they might only offer an extension to those who are ultimately not able to use the pass at all in 2020.
For now, we just have to be patient and see. As of now, you can only book flights through the end of October and the booking window for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years does not open up until the end of May. I believe we will have an answer by then, but not a concrete extension timeframe much before that.
For those who are currently Southwest Companion Pass holders, what are your predictions?
I’ll make sure to update this post once any information is announced. For now, fingers crossed that there is in fact an extension.