Southwest Companion Pass Drama

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Ok, ok, so “drama” might be a strong word when comparing this to real life, but in the points and miles world I would say this qualifies as drama!

Last week I was sitting on a plane waiting to take off on a vacation to Cancun with my family when I read on Million Mile Secrets that Southwest put the ax to hotel point transfers counting towards the companion pass.

Wait, what?!  Say it can’t be!  This trip was the last piece of the puzzle towards getting my Companion Pass – my first major points and miles project!  I pulled myself together and laughed at the irony of the timing.  The kicker here is that Southwest offered NO advance notice – none.   My mind immediately went towards all of my options for these points (approx 300,000)  I have collected over the past year.  I was pretty bummed, but there are still lots of options so I move on (I know, I am a saint)

Then, a couple of days later Southwest changed their mind...sort of.  In true Southwest fashion they responded to their customers’ negative feedback and are now allowing hotel and car rental point transfers to count towards the Companion Pass through March 31, 2017!

Here’s what Southwest had to say:

As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.

In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.

Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.

To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.

We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!


So, What is the Companion Pass Exactly?

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel.  It allows you to designate a guest to fly with you for free (except for taxes) on paid and award flights for up to 2 years!  To earn the Companion Pass you need to earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.  You will then have the pass for the remainder of that year and the entire next year (so earning it as early as possible in a year is a great strategy).  Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card (and point bonuses), and base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners.


I have plans to purchase a Marriott Hotel + Air Package with Southwest Points.  7 Nights in a Category 5 hotel plus 120,000 Rapid Rewards Points costs 270,000 Marriott Points.  The Rapid Reward points will transfer into my Southwest account which will earn the Companion Pass.  The best part is you don’t have to use the 110,000 points to purchase a Companion Pass.  Just having the points in your account will trigger the pass so you still  have all the points to use for flights!

The Wrap Up

I am really happy that Southwest responded to their customers and extended the time for hotel point transfers to count towards the Companion Pass.  While I would love for hotel point transfers to keep counting toward the Companion pass indefinitely I understand that things change.   I love Southwest and this just gives them another good mark in my book (anyone else think that they were planning to extend the deadline all along to generate all of this good publicity??)