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Nobody ever likes it when their assets lose value. And while I’m not sure points and miles qualify as “assets” in the traditional sense, they clearly do have a value. This value is (usually) easier to determine in a revenue-based program like TrueBlue or Rapid Rewards. Unfortunately, we’re hearing from View From the Wing that Southwest has devalued their program…kind of.
The Rapid Rewards devalue really only hits their Wanna Get Away fares. If you’re like me, you’re only booking Wanna Get Away fares on Southwest, so this will hurt a bit. Southwest has decreased the value of Rapid Rewards by around 8%. This obviously decreases the tangible value of the points, but I still hold Rapid Rewards in high regard, which we’ll get to further down.
The Good (?) News
Even though Wanna Get Away fares will be more expensive, Business Select and Anytime fares will cost less in points compared to previous redemptions! Of course, I think most folks are redeeming at the Wanna Get Away fares, so it totally depends on your travel style. When booking with Rapid Rewards, most of the benefits of Anytime and Business Select fares are negligible, so I don’t see much reason to be happy about this change.
Check out the chart above. The only advantage of Anytime over Wanna Get Away is a refundable fare. But Rapid Rewards bookings are always refundable! The flexibility of Rapid Rewards is the sole reason they’re always in my arsenal of points and miles. I don’t ever want to be caught without Rapid Rewards, because I love the ability to cancel and rebook when needed without fees.
On top of Anytime fare benefits, Business Select has priority boarding, priority security, and a Premium Drink. As much as I might like a nice drink up in the air, I think I’ll survive. Although we might actually need priority security lanes with the Global Entry market saturation. Seems like every credit card gives you PreCheck/Global Entry these days!
I’d argue that this change definitely hurts the average consumer. The most important aspect of flight to the majority of travelers is price. Hence less seat pitch, less amenities, the rise of LCCs and unbundled fares. If you’re not in the points and miles game, you’re not earning Rapid Rewards, or any other airline mile, very quickly. For all those individuals, Southwest just made their most realistic redemption harder to reach.
H/T to View from the Wing