Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks – Everything You Need to Know

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Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Since there will be many newly minted Southwest Companion Pass holders very soon with the new Chase Southwest credit card offers I thought a guide was in order.  Here are some Southwest Companion pass tips & tricks. These should ensure you get the most value out of your newly minted discount flying tool!

How Do You Earn The Southwest Companion Pass

To qualify for a companion pass, you can fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. You’ll earn the Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it. It is possible to earn it for close to 24 months if you time it right. 

Taking 100 flights is not feasible for people who don’t travel for work.  Earning 110,000 Rapid Rewards points is a tall task too but there is a workaround. Credit card welcome offers count towards the 110,000 points needed. You can apply for a Southwest personal card and business card and that can earn you over 110,000 Rapid Rewards points.

If you are unable to get a business card there are other ways to earn points to reach the 110,000 point threshold.  You can pair these earning methods with a personal card welcome offer.  Here is a list of other earning methods that work towards the 110,000 point total.

  • Flying – earn 6 points per dollar on wanna get away fares
  • Use your Southwest credit card for 1 point per dollar.  This is only advisable if you are shooting for a companion pass.
  • Use the Rapid Rewards shopping portal
  • Use the Rapid Rewards dining club
  • Booking hotels or car rentals on Southwest.com
  • Credit card referral points (up to 10,000 points per referral)
  • Credit card anniversary bonus points (3,000-7,500 points per year depending on card)
  • Some Rocketmiles bookings count as well

Currently Chase has an offer where you can earn a companion pass and 30,000 points for signing up for one of their Southwest cards and spending $4,000.  The companion pass is only good until 12/31/19 instead of this year and next year though.

What Is The Southwest Companion Pass

When you have a companion pass you can designate someone to fly for free with you on every Southwest flight.  This includes cash flights or award flights, all you need to do is pay the taxes and fees for your companion. Those are $5.60 each way for domestic travel and around $100 or so roundtrip for international flights.

You can change your designated companion up to 3 times per year, not including your first designation. Your companion flies with you for only the cost of taxes as long as there is a seat, no matter the cost of the ticket!

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Okay now that we know what a Southwest Companion Pass is let’s get down to the good stuff.

Wait to Select Your Companion

The first tip is to wait until you are ready to use your companion pass to select your companion.  You can change the companion up to 3 times per year but the first one is free.  Many will select their spouse but then may want to take a trip with a friend or child first. That would burn one of your 3 changes before you really needed to.

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

Plan Out Your Companions Ahead Of Time

You can not change companions until all flights are completed with your current companion.  So if you have a flight in April with companion A and want to fly somewhere in May with companion B you need to wait until after the April flight is completed to switch companions.  Once you switch companions any uncompleted flights with the original companion are canceled.  So if you wanted to fly with companion A again in June you would need to perform 2 switches. You may wanna go without the companion pass on the trip in May so that you don’t burn two switches to use it for both companion A and B.  Make sure to plan ahead before making changes.

It works on Cash or Award Tickets

The Southwest Companion Pass works no matter how the ticket is paid for.  If there is an open seat your companion can fly.  You can pay for your ticket with cash, Rapid Rewards points, gift cards, or travel credits.

It Only Takes One Seat

The truly great thing about the Southwest companion pass is that it only takes 1 seat for your companion to fly “free”.  In the situation mentioned above if you wanted companion B to fly with you in May there are ways that it can probably still work out.  You would book the flight in May for yourself right away and lock in the best price possible.  Once the flight in April is complete with companion A you would change your companion to companion B.  You would then add them to your May flight.  As long as there is one seat left on the plane the companion can fly with you.  It doesn’t matter if the ticket is way more expensive than what you paid for yourself. They get to ride if there is a seat. Even if there is only a business class seat available – they fly! Just a FYI this is just a more expensive booking class but you still get the same economy seat ;).

Southwest Companion Pass Tips & Tricks

It Doesn’t Matter Who Pays

Another cool tip is that is doesn’t matter who pays for the Southwest companion pass holder to fly.  If your spouse or friend has Rapid Rewards points then they can book the flight in your name.  And even though they paid for your ticket you can add them as a companion (if they are your designated companion).

Split The Cost

Since it doesn’t matter who pays for your flight this is a great way to split the cost of a flight, especially if you both have Rapid Rewards points.  You can book and pay for the departure flight and your companion can book your return flight in your name (or vice versa). You then add them as the companion and you each cut your cost in half.  It is a way to give the gift of travel while still reducing your cost too.

International Flights Count

The most value may be found with booking international flights because they tend to be the most expensive.  Your companion can still fly with you even if you are crossing borders.  You need to pay the taxes and fees for the companion which will probably be in the $100 range.  How does flying to Mexico or Costa Rica for $100 sound to you?

Conclusion

I hope these Southwest Companion Pass tips & tricks help you maximize the value you can get out of it while you have it.  Remember that it is possible to get it right now with the Chase Southwest Plus card after spending $4000 in 3 months and paying the $69 annual fee.


The responses below are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Just double checking to make sure I understand properly. I am the designated companion but I have points in my own account that I would like to use. Transferring to my husbands account is too costly. So I order a ticket for my husband with my points. Then he adds me to the itinerary and because I am designated as the companion I go free. Wow am I understanding correctly?

    • Yes you can book the flight for your husband with your points and then he can add you as the companion. No need to transfer points to his account.

  2. I’ve wondered about this scenario for quite a while.
    I book a one way flight and add my companion. My companion boards but I decide not to fly and cancel my ticket. (I believe I can cancel no later then 10 minutes before my flight) My companion boarded before this 10 minute window.
    How does SWA prevent this from happening?

    • You could probably get away with it once but I am sure they would shut down your Rapid Rewards account and confiscate any points you have once they caught it.

    • They will not allow your companion to fly without you. If the plane is ready to go and your bp hasn’t been scanned, they will come on and take him/her off the flight. Also you can’t cancel your ticket (ever) without first cancelling any associated companion ticket, and you won’t be able to do that after they have boarded.

      • Good point Kenny – I hadn’t thought about that. Once one BP is scanned it would probably lock out cancelling the other ticket.

  3. Hey Mark, you may want to clarify your comment “Even if there is only a business class seat available – they fly!” in case there are those who have not flown Southwest—or do not know about their “all the same” seating. Thanks for not calling them a low cost airline. 🙂

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