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If you enjoy flying Southwest, a Southwest companion pass is one of the things to strive for. A companion pass is a highlight of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program, as it is one of the most valuable program benefits.
What Is Southwest Companion Pass?
Simply put, the companion pass allows you to have one person to fly with you without needing to pay a fare for your companion. The only charge you’ll incur is the mandatory fees and taxes, which typically start at approximately $5 one way.
A Southwest Companion Pass is valid from the date that you earn it until the end of the following calendar year. For example, if you earn a Companion Pass in May 2023, it will be valid until December 31, 2024. This means that your Companion Pass is valid for 19 months.
You don’t even need to stick with the same companion throughout the year. Southwest allows pass holders to change their designated companion up to three times in any calendar year. Additionally, there are no limits on how many times and which routes you use your Companion Pass. There are no capacity restrictions or blackout days, so you can make a reservation for your companion even if there is only one seat left available on the flight.
Companions can join pass holders regardless of how the flight is booked. This means that you don’t need to book a cash flight to travel with your companion. You can use Rapid Rewards points to pay for your flight and bring your companion, only paying the cost of your fees and taxes.
How to Get a Southwest Companion Pass?
Since this is a valuable loyalty program perk, you will need to generate lots of activity to qualify for a Companion Pass. As a Rapid Rewards member, you’ll need to fly 100 one way, qualifying flights or accumulate 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points during a calendar year to earn your pass.
If this requirement seems on the high side, it is because Southwest adjusted the qualification requirements in January 2023. Prior to 2023, you would have needed 125,000 points. However, Southwest has compensated for this with its co-branded cards, as card members now receive a 10,000 points bonus each year.
There are a number of ways to earn qualifying points. These include:
You’ll earn qualifying points for each dollar you spend on flights. So, the number of points you earn depends on the fare type and fare amount.
For example, Business Select fares can earn up to 12 points per dollar, while Anytime flights earn 10 points. Fortunately, you don’t need to keep track of these rates, as an estimate of the points you can earn is displayed during booking.
You can also earn points when you book a hotel stay or rent a car using one of the Southwest partner brands.
For example, you can earn 600 Rapid Rewards points when you make a qualifying rental with Dollar, National, Avis or Budget car rentals.
We’ll go into credit cards in a little more detail below, but suffice to say that you can accumulate Rapid Rewards points towards a companion pass with your co-branded credit card.
Although there is no Southwest credit card that offers a Companion Pass as a benefit, these cards can help you to qualify for a pass. There are three personal co-branded Southwest credit cards that offer a variety of benefits and allow you to accumulate qualifying points towards your Companion Pass.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card
This is the base Southwest credit card that carries a modest annual fee. It has a decent welcome bonus with a reasonable spending requirement and a two tier reward structure weighted towards Southwest, internet and phone services and local transit.
The Rapid Rewards Plus card has an annual points bonus on your card anniversary, but you’ll also get two EarlyBird check ins per year and a travel insurance package which includes rental car, lost luggage, and baggage delay coverages.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card
This mid tier card offers a higher anniversary points bonus and a three tiered reward structure. All your points accumulate towards a companion pass and you will also get two Early Bird check ins per year.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card
This is the top tier co-branded card and while it has a reasonable annual fee, it offers some very generous benefits. These include the largest anniversary points bonus, travel credit, four upgraded boardings per year, and a discount on your inflight purchases.
As we touched on above, as of January 2023, all card holders will get a 10,000 point “boost” towards a companion pass, but you’ll only get one boost even if you hold multiple cards. All the points you earn from spending and any bonuses you receive will all count towards earning your Companion Pass.
Which Points or Activities Do Not Count Towards a Companion Pass?
As we have mentioned several times, you need to accumulate qualifying points to earn a Companion Pass. There are a number of activities and points which will not count towards your Companion Pass. These include:
- Purchased Points: There are a number of platforms that offer points for sale, but these will not count towards your pass.
- Transferred or Gifted Points: You can transfer points from other programs or receive a points gift towards an award flight or other rewards. While you can use these points, you won’t benefit from them for your Companion Pass.
- Bonus Points: You can get bonus points as tier bonuses, promo bonuses, flight bonuses and others. However, with the exception of Rapid Rewards credit cards and Business Refer a Company promotions, these bonuses will not count towards a pass.
How Do I Add a Companion to My Southwest Flight Reservation?
If you want to add a companion to your Southwest reservation, you will need to confirm that there is an available seat on the itinerary. If there is a seat available, you can make a booking for your companion.
The Companion Pass holder will need to visit the Southwest website and log in to their Rapid Rewards account. On the left hand side of your dashboard, you’ll need to click on “My upcoming trips” and then select the appropriate reservation. You should then see a button “Add Companion.”
After you click the button, you will need to provide the passenger details and pay the appropriate fees and taxes.
Can I Change My Designated Companion?
Southwest allows you to change your designated companion up to three times per year. However, you will need to call the Southwest helpline to make any changes. A Southwest representative can take your change request and the changes will be applied within 21 business days.
It is important to note that if you have any reservations with your current designated companion, you will need to cancel them before you can make the changes to your Companion Pass.
How Long Does a Southwest Companion Pass Last?
Your Companion pass will last for the remainder of the year when you earn the pass and the entirety of the following year. For example, if you earn your pass in June 2023, it will be valid through to December 2024.
So, if you want to get the most use of your Companion Pass, you should aim to earn your pass as soon as possible in the year. If you can qualify for your pass early in the year, there is the potential for it to be valid for 18 or 19 months, whereas if you earn it in November, you’ll only have a pass for 14 months.
Unfortunately, no. Your companion must be traveling with you.
You can use your Companion Pass for any fare class. So, if you book yourself a business or first class seat, your companion can travel with you in this cabin.
Yes, you can use your Southwest Companion Pass for return or one way flights.
Yes, one of the great benefits of a Companion Pass is that you can have your companion travel with you regardless of how you made your reservation. So, whether you pay for your fare or book an award seat, you can bring your travel companion with you.
Unfortunately, no. You will not earn any Rapid Rewards points when you fly on an award flight or book a Companion Pass seat.