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southwestlogo Today’s post is more of a beginner-to-intermediate post, and may be common knowledge to those who are more advanced travel hackers.  Southwest Airlines is one of only a few airlines to offer special fares to one’s traveling companions (called the Southwest Companion Pass), and it is by far the most lucrative out there.

As opposed to other airlines where you can let a companion fly for a reduced amount ($99 or $149), though generally only on a PAID fare, holders of the Southwest Companion Pass can fly their designated companion for FREE (not including the recently increased $5.60 TSA fee).  The best part for us travel hackers is that this is true on AWARD flights as well as paid flights.

Wait… what?!?  That seems too good to be true!!

Yeah it kind of does.  Frankly, I’m kind of nervous that Southwest will pull the plug on this at some point, but like all things in this game, one just has to play the rules that exist now – as one door closes, another usually opens…

And I haven’t even mentioned the BEST part, which is that once you get the Southwest Companion Pass, it is good for ALL of the remaining calendar year AND all of the NEXT calendar year!!  So if you earn it in January of 2014, it’s good all the way through December of 2015!

So, how do you get the Southwest Companion Pass?

By far the most common way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass by earning at least 110,000 miles in one calendar year.  You can also earn it by flying 100 flights on Southwest though I would imagine if you fly that much, you’re probably pretty close to 110,000 Rapid Rewards miles anyways…

What counts and what does not?

Okay, so how do you get those 110,000 Rapid Rewards points?  Well, the following all count as qualifying points

  1. Bonus points earned from the Southwest credit card as well as any points earned from spending on Southwest branded cards.
  2. Points earned from shopping at the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal (I earned 22,000 points in one day of shopping with 19x bonuses)
  3. Points transferred from hotel and other partners.
  4. Actually FLYING on Southwest (gasp?!)
  5. Points earned from “Refer a friend” credit card links that Chase / Southwest occasionally offer

Actually, just about everything counts towards earning the Companion Pass.  There’s actually only one main thing that doesn’t count

  1. Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards – which stinks because this is by far the easiest way to GET Southwest Rapid Rewards points!!

It’s also worth pointing out that any bonus points you get for signing up for a Southwest account, or points earned for agreeing to get their newsletter also do not count towards the bonus.

If you have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards and want another way to transfer points to Southwest that is eligible for the Companion Pass, you can consider transferring Chase -> Amtrak -> Choice Hotels -> Southwest.

Here’s my status for this year (2014)

southwest-companion-pass-status

As you can see, I overshot the mark a bit :-).  Actually if I had realized how many points I would get in 2014, I might have tried to either spread them account, or credit them to my wife’s account.

If you’re still in-progress, to check how close you are to getting your 110,000 miles, you can use this link.

How do you use the Southwest Companion Pass?

We earned our companion pass back in May of 2014, and when it came time to actually USE it, I didn’t feel like Southwest’s website was particularly clear on what to do with it next.  So, since I’m a “famous” blogger, I of course wrote a post about it 🙂

READ: Using your Southwest Companion Pass

One you earn your companion pass, Southwest will send you an email letting you pick your companion.  You can change your companion 3 times over the life of your Companion Pass, I assume to prevent people from abusing the system.

Then, each time you travel, you have to book your OWN travel first – then on your Upcoming Trips page, you’ll be given a link to Add a Companion

southwestaddacompanion

I hope this helps you with a bit of information about one of the best travel products out there!  Did you learn anything new?

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