Are Southwest Rapid Rewards Better Than Avios for Short Distance Bookings? (Hint: Yes In Many Cases!)

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southwest better than avios

Southwest Cheaper Than Avios for Short Haul

Over a year ago, Lagoon which is a pretty amazing family run amusement park north of Salt Lake City, announced that they were building a world class coaster. I have been to Lagoon a couple of times, but this new coaster definitely put it in on my list of places to get to in 2015.

My friend and I often talked about our trip to Salt Lake City and I remember being excited when Alaska Airlines announced services from LAS-SLC, because that meant that I would be able to use Avios to fly the relatively short distance in lieu of driving. Or more accurately it meant that I could use Avios IN THEORY.

The truth is that the one daily Alaska flight is never available at a Saver level and the times aren’t very convenient anyway. The only other airlines who fly that route are Delta and Southwest. So naturally I looked at Southwest’s rates and something very interesting popped up.

An Amazing Southwest Redemption

southwest better than avios

Pretty much all of the airlines charge about $150 roundtrip on this route. Southwest’s fares were $151 roundtrip or 8,062 points! Yes, that is only 4,031 points each way, which is cheaper than Avios. Accounting for the $5.60 fee, it comes to a 1.73 cents per point valuation. Very nice!

Of course another way I was able to sweeten this deal was by utilizing my brand spanking new companion pass. By adding my friend, both of us are able to fly roundtrip to Salt Lake City for only 8,032 points plus $22.40. Take that Avios!

This isn’t just the case with with LAS-SLC. I found sub 5,000 one-way fares on flights from Las Vegas to a ton of other cities. The best part is many of those cities aren’t served directly by Alaska or American, so Avios wouldn’t work anyway. Look at this flight for TODAY from LAS-SFO. Last minute 4th of July trip anyone?

southwest better than avios

 

The Point Is to Check

I guess my point is that we always got caught up in the amazing value of British Airways Avios short haul redemptions, but sometimes Southwest does even better. Of course Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares aren’t always available at the last minute, but depending on the route, you can get a deal.

Southwest also flies into a ton of different airports than American Airlines, US Airways or Alaska Airlines, so there is far more variety as well. Even if you don’t have a lot of Southwest points, a transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards could make a lot of sense, especially for a last minute booking and definitely if you have a companion pass.

Conclusion

Maybe you regularly purchase Southwest flights for a few thousand points each already, but it never hurts to be reminded of the value of a program. In my opinion these shorter haul Wanna Get Away fares with points valuations at 1.7 cents and higher are some of the best values in the miles/points space today. In case you are wondering, Cannibal (the new coaster) opened yesterday and I’ll be riding in a few weeks! Can’t wait!


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6 COMMENTS

  1. Agree with your point to check. A couple of thoughts: (1) If you have a WN companion pass, you are sacrificing 2X the value of the points when you book for 1 person (so, in your example, 2 X 3,770) so that is the “cost” to you vs other options, (2) for close-in bookings, WN wanna getaway fares aren’t available and Avios become more valuable for short hops (4,500 Avios vs 25,944 WN points in your example).

    • Hello,

      Sometimes, the drive is worth it. I live in Dayton but I do mostly flight from CMH since it has the none stop flights to FLL. If you do not want to drive that much, you could use Frontier. Just few weeks ago, my family of four could fly round trip to FLL for just $440 total!

  2. @ Shawn

    Hi Shawn, I am looking for last minutes 4th of July escapes since I have off from today until next Tues, but prices are crazy expensive everywhere. I got a bit hope after I saw you found good saver award from LAS to SFO today as you outlined above, but I just checked for SW Saver award today for SFO-LAS is crazy, 12,000 points-ish…..on return flight on 7 July is more tolerable ….3 – 4,000 points.
    No idea where has good award value in this last minutes…if you have any idea please let me know.
    Also I don’t understand why it cost more points from SFO to LAS than LAS to SFO.

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