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southwestlogoSo today is supposed to be the day that Southwest devalues their points in some vague, arbitrary way.  When they first announced it back a few months ago, they only said:

Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares.

The lack of any kind of details was why I suggested that this week (well, by yesterday) was the time to spend any extra Southwest points that you have lying around.

Post April 17th analysis

So, now that it’s April 17th, I thought I’d take a bit of an analysis of if there were any noticeable changes so far.

First off, I took a route of DAL-MDW, for Friday July 3rd.  I figured a holiday weekend would be one of the best chances to have fares that were higher than the nominal 70 points / $1 ratio


Dividing each flight’s cost by the points required (and accounting for taxes and fees which are not included in points fares), each one was still $70 / point.  So far, so good.  I tried several other similar flights – close-in routes, non-stops, direct, and could not find anything that was higher than 70 points / dollar.

Going… international?

My next thought was to check the list of Southwest international flights.

southwest-devaluation-arubaHmm… what’s 28,000 (points required) divided by $350 (the base fare of the flight)?

80 points / dollar!

I checked some of the other international destinations.

  • 70 points / dollar: Mexico City, San Jose Cabo (SJD), Cancun
  • 74 points / dollar: San Juan, PR
  • ~75 points / dollar: Montego Bay, Punta Cana
  • 80 points / dollar: Aruba

Note that on some of the destinations (like Montego Bay and Punta Cana), I couldn’t get an exact dollar value for redemptions.  I don’t know if that’s because of user error, or perhaps the calculation is including some of the taxes instead of just the base fare, or perhaps Southwest has just made the point value up!

Still, it looks pretty clear that they are raising the points required on some of the international destinations.  The domestic US destinations (as well as Mexico) still seem to be showing at 70 points / dollar, but several other of the Caribbean destinations are more, with Aruba being the most expensive.  I guess it’s a good thing I got that “free” trip to San Juan in this past winter!

(EDIT: Per this Flyertalk thread, there are even some domestic flights which are costing more than 70 points / dollar)

There was already some speculation even before today that the move to variable points pricing might be in preparation for increased international destinations (as well as Hawaii) or partnering with other airlines.

What do you think?  Are you surprised?  Did you already burn all of your Southwest points?

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