Updated on September 4, 2016
Updated on September 4, 2016
Now that Drew and I are in the States for a few months and now that we have the Companion Pass, we are going to be taking a significant amount of SouthWest flights.
SouthWest is a discount airline with a revenue based rewards system called “Rapid Rewards.”
While it doesn’t really have classes, the fares come in 3 types with varying perks: Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away.
In the above chart you can see the various perks and the variation in earnings. (Again, it’s a revenue-based program.) When you’re searching for flights, you can hover your mouse over the price you’re interested in and the earnings will show up.
As for redeeming, below is an example of the dollar prices as they compare to the
The “Wanna Get Away” price in points is roughly 60 times the dollar price. The “Anytime” price in points is roughly 80 times the dollar price and the “Business Select” price in points is roughly 100 times the dollar price.
So now that we know the basics of the program, what are the pros and cons of flying SouthWest and the Rapid Rewards program?
1.) Companion pass
The companion pass is obviously an enormous perk of the program. Select your companion and anytime you fly, they can fly for free, even on rewards flights. For a couple, this is phenomenal. Cuts your flight costs literally in half.
If you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards points in a calendar year, then you’ll be rewarded the companion pass for the rest of that year and the entire next year too. AND, points earned from credit card bonuses count. Drew’s got a great post that offers more details on maximizing the SouthWest Companion Pass so be sure and read that.
Actually using the companion pass is as easy as clicking an “Add Companion” button at the time of booking.
2.) Some really cheap rates!
SouthWest has some great prices both for paid tickets and reward tickets. Cleveland to Orlando for example can be as low as $125 for a one-way, ~6,707 points. Chicago to Boston one way can be as low as $79 or ~4,167 points.
3.) No such thing as black out dates
If a ticket is available with cash, it’s available with points too. That’s one of the perks of a revenue based system.
4.) You can update your rate if the price goes down.
If you book a flight and the price decreases, no worries. You can just go online and change your flight.
5.) An interest in sustainability and fuel efficiency
According to this Dallas News article, SouthWest is making a move to buy 3 million gallons of biofuel a year from Red Rock Biofuels. Coincidentally, I visited Red Rocks two days ago. That’s a sidenote, but the Colorado based company apparently makes jet fuel out of “forest residues.” I surely don’t understand any of it on a scientific level, but check out the article for more details on that. Apparently this will only cover a minuscule amount of SouthWest’s fuel needs, but hey. Every little bit counts, right?
1.) No assigned seats
You have to be organized enough to check in 24 hours ahead of time for a good boarding group assignment. Boarding is split between A 1-30, A 30-60, B 1-30, B 30-60, etc etc. Though you are actually given a specific number and in a grade-school, honor system sort of way you just line up in your designated spot.
This doesn’t matter much if you are a solo traveler with small bags. But if your carry-ons are large and you’re traveling in a group or pair, you should really try to remember to check in online 24 hours ahead of time so you can board first and sit with your partner and have plenty of space for your bags.
1.b) Luggage issues if you don’t get a good boarding group
Pretty much just an extension of the first point, the last folks to board usually have a heck of a time finding random spaces for their luggage.
1.c.) People fill from the front to the back, so it’s a mess
ALSO just an extension of the first point, but another issue caused by this lack of seat assignment is that people take the seats at the front of the plane first. This is the least-organized way to board.
Overall, I can deal with those minor boarding and baggage in conveniences if the price is right. And it almost always is.
Again, for the best use of your SouthWest Rapid Rewards points, make sure you know about the Companion Pass and how to get and maximize it.