We consider the Companion Pass one of the best frequent flyer perks available today.
When you earn Companion Pass through Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program, you get to designate a traveling companion. Then every time you fly on a Southwest flight, your companion can fly along for free, only paying the government or airport-imposed charges, which usually cost $5.60 for a one-way flight.
Having earned the Companion Pass means that our flight costs are slashed by half, so we can afford to take more flights. On Southwest with Companion Pass, we can fly to 97 different cities throughout the U.S. and seven additional countries for essentially half price.
- You get the Companion Pass by flying enough qualifying flights and/earning enough Qualifying Points during a calendar year (between January 1 and December 31st.)
- To qualify during a calendar year, either:
- Make 100 one-way flights between January 1 and December 31st. Only regular revenue flights count. In other words, if you are on a free ticket, that flight does not count to the 100.
- Earn 110,000 Qualifying Points through Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program. This is the easy way, as the bonus points from a new Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card from Chase counts as Qualifying Points. (Watch for when the 50,000 point bonus is offered.) If you have a business, you can also get a Business Card, and have 100,000 of your 110,000 points before you make a single flight. In addition, the points from your monthly credit card spend count as Qualifying Points, as do points from your revenue flights on Southwest.
For example, I got a new Southwest Rapid Rewards card this year – something you can do every two years. Then, in addition to the points from the monthly credit card bills, I earned points from several full fare flights purchased at Business Select Fares, and I was over the 110,000 points in October.
- As soon as you qualify for Companion Pass during a calendar year, you get the benefit for the remainder of that year plus the entire calendar year of the next year. In my case, I get a 2.5 month “bonus.” If you truly want to maximize the Companion Pass, you try to earn it as early after January 1st as possible, thereby qualifying for the benefit for most of two calendar years.
How to Use the Companion Pass
- Once you qualify for Companion Pass, you designate your “companion.” Your companion does not have to be a family member, and you change your Companion Pass designate up to three times a year. Mr. Jones is always my Companion.
- As soon as I make a flight reservation, I also book a companion ticket, either by:
- calling Southwest Customer Service at 1-800-248-4377, OR
- finding my booked flight in the My Trips section of my Rapid Rewards account. When my purchased flight shows up here, it has an “Add Companion” link, which I click and follow the directions to purchase.
- Sometimes, when booking at the last minute, there is only 1 seat left on the flight when I book my ticket. If the plane is sold out with no remaining seats is the only time that I cannot book a companion ticket. Generally in this case, I choose a different flight.
- If Mr. Jones cannot travel with me, I can cancel the companion flight up to 10 minutes before departure time, and get the taxes refunded.
Check out these other posts regarding flights using Frequent Flyer Rewards: