While the bonus offer you get with the Southwest credit cards is great, many people are getting the card solely due to the fact that it will help them achieve the Southwest Companion Pass Status. I fully detailed the Companion Pass in this prior post, but to quickly recap: To earn this pass you need 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Once achieved you will earn the pass for the current calendar year plus the following calendar year. The Southwest Companion Pass allows a companion to travel with you for FREE (plus tax of $2.50 per segment).
So here are the top 10 Southwest Companion Pass questions. If you have anymore feel free to comment below and I will answer.
- Are there blackout dates with the companion pass? With the companion pass there are no black out dates or seat restrictions – if there is a seat available for purchase, it is available for your companion. The companion pass can even be used if points were redeemed for a free flight. This can result in both passengers going FREE (plus the ~$5 taxes/passenger)!
- How many times can the companion pass can be used? Unlimited! There is no cap on the number of times the pass can be used.
- Who can be a companion? Anyone can be your companion – friends, family, a complete stranger. However, the companion pass can only be switched up to three times during the validity of the pass. Since you need to allocate your companion when getting the pass, this allows you 4 people to use the pass (those people can be repeated and put back on as the companion as well but counts as one of your allowed changes).
- How quickly does my designated companion go into affect? Immediately. To change your companion pass, call Southwest Customer Service (1-800-IFLYSWA) and they will easily assist you on the spot. You can then book a flight for your companion right away.
- When does the companion pass expire? The companion pass is valid the remainder of the year it was earned plus the following calendar year. For example, if you earn the pass April 3013, you will have it for the rest of 2013, plus 2014. If you were to put it off and hopefully earn the pass in January 2014, you will have it for the rest of 2014, plus 2015 (read this post to learn more about getting the pass for the 2014 and 2015 calendar year).
- Do you have to buy the companion pass with the points earned? No. Once you earn 110,000 points the pass is yours and you still have those points to use to redeem for a free flight. You do NOT need to “cash” in the 110,000 points to receive the companion pass. For instance, 110,000 Southwest Points is equivalent to $1,833 in free flights on a Southwest “Wanna Getaway Fare”, if you redeem all those points while having the companion pass status, you are essentially getting $3,666 worth in airfare on Southwest.
- Can the points earned from the credit card sign up bonus be used for other passengers or do they solely have to be used by the person flying with the companion? The points can be used for anyone and is not limited to the person’s whose account they are in. Obviously, when you use the points for the primary person and add a companion to the reservation you are getting a free flight with your points for two people instead of one.
- The Southwest site states that the bonus points from the credit cards do not count towards the companion pass. Is this true? That is true for bonus offers once you have the card, not for the bonus points given from the sign up offer. The bonus points earned from the sign up offer do count towards companion pass status (at least at the time of writing this post). Bonus offers earned after you have the card, for example, spend $X on the card and receive X bonus points will not count towards the points needed to earn the companion pass.
- What if I need to change my reservation, will the companion still be able to fly without the primary person? No. If you need to cancel or change your flight, your companions flight will also be cancelled. I’ve actually screwed myself over before as I needed to change my flight last minute and my companion had to buy a new ticket (at a much higher price since it was only a few days in advance of the flight). You can always use your points to book your companion a flight ahead of time just in case a change in the primary persons travel plan. Just remember to cancel that flight prior to.
- If I already have a reservation for a companion, can I book a flight for another companion prior to the flight that is already booked? Let’s say you currently have a flight for Companion A in December, but want to travel with Companion B in September. Companion A’s flight is already booked. In this scenario, you will need to cancel Companion A’s flight in order to book a flight for another companion prior to. Changing your companion will cancel any itineraries associated with that companion. If it is a flight with many seats still available if shouldn’t be an issue, but if the flight is sold out you are taking a risk by canceling with the hopes to re-book. This is a more complicated situation so I will dedicate an entire blog post to this tomorrow.
Credit card to help earn the companion pass: As mentioned previously, there are three different Southwest cards – ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements, but different annual fees and annual bonuses. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog post. You can learn more about all Airline credit card offers here.
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