Southwest Airlines just announced several changes to their Rapid Rewards program, starting mostly in 2023. While my heart generally skips a beat when I get an email with a subject line of “Heads up Rapid Rewards Members: a few changes to our award-winning loyalty program”, the changes are not too bad and mostly reasonable IMO. Some of them are even actually GOOD changes (I know, that’s quite a shock coming from an airline “loyalty” program. Here’s a brief look at the upcoming changes
Southwest Companion Pass qualifying changes
The big news is a change to the requirements to get the Southwest Companion Pass. You’ll now have to get 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year (up from 125,000). That is more, which stinks, but it’s not THAT much more. And credit card signup bonuses have been going up and up more, so it’s still pretty reasonable to get the companion pass with one business and one personal card.
To help offset this, all Rapid Rewards Credit Cardmembers will receive a boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points every year. Reading the fine print on the Companion Pass qualifying points boost, it says:
- Effective January 2023, Members with an open Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card on the first business day of each calendar year will earn one boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points each calendar year.
- The boost will be deposited into eligible Member’s account by January 31st of the calendar year.
- When a Member opens a Rapid Rewards Credit Card after the first business day of the calendar year, they will receive one boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points up to 30 days after opening the Rapid Rewards Credit Card.
- Only one boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points can be earned each calendar year by each Rapid Rewards account no matter how many Rapid Rewards Credit Cards are open for the Rapid Rewards account.
- Eligible Members will see the boost added to their Rapid Rewards account by logging in to their account on Southwest.com®.
- The Companion Pass Qualifying Points boost cannot be used for redemption (emphasis mine)
So basically if you are getting the Companion Pass through credit card signup bonuses (or if you have at least one credit card at all), this change is not really changing (since you have to get 10,000 points more but they’re giving you an extra 10,000 points). Seems like pretty good marketing for Southwest for people to get their credit cards. Though I can’t imagine there are that many people who are going for the Companion Pass that don’t already have at least one Southwest credit card.
Changes to no-show policy
Southwest is also updating their no-show policy. They now say that if you book flights with your Rapid Rewards points, you must cancel the reservation at least 10 minutes before the flight’s original scheduled departure time. Failure to cancel the trip 10 minutes before scheduled departure will result in forfeited points, starting summer 2023. I thought that this was already the policy, but maybe the 10 minute rule was changed or maybe that was only for flights booked with cash? Let me know in the comments if you know what is different here. One important note is that this is only for Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus flights.
Board Together (in some cases)
If you do have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can now board together with your companions, unless you’ve purchased a Business Select® fare, purchased Upgraded Boarding, or added the Companion after you’ve been assigned a boarding position). This seems like a simple change and a useful one if you have the Companion Pass
More ways to redeem Southwest points
Saving the most vague for last, Southwest says that “Southwest® Rapid Rewards Credit Cardmembers are getting even more ways to redeem and enjoy the points they’ve earned”, starting in 2023. They don’t provide any details, but I’m not holding my breath that this will be something actually worth doing. By far the best way to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points is for flights on Southwest Airlines, and it’s hard to see that changing, no matter what other “ways to redeem” Southwest introduces
What do you think of these Southwest Rapid Rewards changes? Will they change how you fly Southwest? Leave your thoughts in the comments
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