For many, the Southwest Companion Pass is the holy grail of award travel. If you do a lot of domestic flying and enjoy the unique U.S. carrier, getting a 2-for-1 deal on all flights is an amazing deal.
No other airline offers anything quite like the Companion Pass. Some airlines offer 2-for-1 certificates, but these are only good one time. Same goes for the occasional BOGO deal. But the Companion Pass is different. Your designated companion flies free on any flight that you do, space-permitting. All you have to do is pay the taxes and fees.
And after all these years, I’ve finally earned my first Companion Pass.
Qualifying for My First Southwest Companion Pass
Earning the Southwest Companion Pass wasn’t on my mind when I initially decided to apply for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card. Two other things factored into the decision. First, the welcome offer of 100,000 Rapid Rewards points immediately turned my head. It’s the best offer I’ve seen in recent memory. The spend requirement was high ($12,000 for the full bonus), but I could manage that. Second, and the real reason I applied, is that I was hearing reports that the cards were no longer subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.
Sure enough, after applying, I was swiftly approved. My new card count was around 7/24 at the time. I was floored.
Only then did I realize how close the bonus would take me toward earning the Southwest Companion Pass. I’d applied for the card near the end of 2021, so as long as all the bonus miles posted on or after January 1, 2022, they’d all count toward the Companion Pass. I earned the first 50,000 bonus points in January, and then earned the remaining 50,000 with my March statement. After meeting the required spend and taking one paid Southwest flight, I needed another 12,000 points to hit the required 125,000 Rapid Rewards points for the Companion Pass. Close enough to taste the pretzels.
A little manufactured spending on my Southwest Priority card through Simon bulk gift card purchases, and I earned the Companion Pass by my May statement. Just in time for a hopeful June trip!
Adding My Son as My Companion
To add your companion, you have two options. You can call Southwest Airlines at (800) 435-9792, which is suggested when you use the Southwest mobile app. If you log in using a computer, you’ll be able to add online. This is much easier. Adding my youngest was easy online. After logging in, I quickly found the button to add a companion and had him designated in less than a minute.
To change a Southwest companion, you have to call. You designated companion can be changed up to three times per calendar year.
What Kind of Value Will I Get From the Southwest Companion Pass?
This is the real question for me. I earned the bulk of the required points from credit card bonuses, and nearly all of the rest through card spending. Actually flying Southwest Airlines doesn’t routinely feature in my travel plans. This is primarily because we have to drive 4.5 hours to the Sacramento Airport as the closest option served by Southwest. But we’ll be doing it at least once!
For our June trip, this may end up saving me a ridiculous amount. After watching prices climb and Wanna Get Away fares disappear, I pulled the trigger on a booking over a month ago. I booked travel for me and my older son. The plan was to add my younger son once I earned the companion pass.
I had a moment of anxiety trying to book my son’s seat. I walked through adding him online, but when I clicked to pay the $11.20 in fees for his seat, the Southwest website threw an error.
I wondered if it might be because the Wanna Get Away fare bucket is no longer available. However, I called Southwest and had him added within 15 minutes. Talk about #winning. Look at the current prices for those flights!
So, can I call this $1,084 in value?? I would never pay that. But now, spread across three passengers, the cost of the flights comes to 37,719 Rapid Rewards points and $11.20 per person. This is utterly ridiculous for travel to the Midwest, but there really aren’t options this summer.
I’m sure we’ll get more value out of the Companion Pass, but if this one trip is all that we take, I’m still happy with my choice to earn it. We’ll have to fly Southwest out of Sacramento, Oakland, or San Francisco. It’s a trek to any of these airports for us, but it could be worth it. The cost of gas and time will certainly factor into things. But my hope is that I can get decent value from the Companion Pass over a handful of trips over 2022 and 2023. It’s good through December 31 of next year.
It’s so cool to qualify for my first Southwest Companion Pass. I’ve known many people over my years as an award travel aficionado who earn this again and again. You can’t beat 2-for-1.
Any Companion Pass success stories out there? How much value do you get out of it each year?