There’s Good News and Bad News for Frequent Southwest Fliers

Joining several others, the airline eliminated its miles expiration policy, but its beloved Companion Pass will be harder to obtain.

There’s Good News and Bad News for Frequent Southwest Fliers

Southwest’s Companion Pass is still an amazing perk.

Photo by Felipe_Sanchez/Shutterstock

Southwest Airlines just became the most recent member of the “miles don’t expire” club. Less than two months after United revealed that MileagePlus members no longer have to worry about their miles expiring, Southwest announced on Thursday that, effective immediately, Rapid Rewards points will never become invalid.

Previously, Rapid Rewards points expired after being inactive for two years. With the move, Southwest joins United, Delta and JetBlue, which all allow fliers to keep miles indefinitely. American Airlines miles expire after 18 months of inactivity, and Alaska miles expire after two years of inactivity.

Unfortunately, the good mileage news at Southwest arrived with a bitter pill to swallow: It will now take more points to obtain Southwest’s much-loved Companion Pass.

The Companion Pass allows Rapid Rewards members to have a designated person travel with them for an entire year (or more) free of charge, save for taxes and fees. It is available with both mileage redemption and revenue tickets, and members can change their companion up to three times during a calendar year. You can use a Companion Pass for the remainder of the year you earned it in, plus the entire following calendar year.

Previously, members needed 110,000 points to earn a Companion Pass, but that will be upped to 125,000 starting January 1, 2020 (so those who were hoping to earn one with 110,000 points this year are still good to go).

A Companion Pass can also be earned through flights, and that policy doesn’t change—you can still get a Companion Pass by flying 100 qualifying one-way flights.

Another forthcoming change will affect Southwest’s free same-day standby offering. Currently, A-List and A-List Preferred members who need to change their flights can try for a same-day standby flight at no cost. Starting January 1, 2021 (you still have more than a year to enjoy the current benefit), they will have to pay for any additional government taxes and fees that result from the change.

On the day of travel, members will need to speak with a Southwest customer service representative at the airport to find out what the added government taxes and fees will be.

>> Next: Fliers, Rejoice: Your United Miles Will Never Expire

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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