This week, I booked my first flight on Southwest Airlines in nearly 3 years. This will be the first of several flights I take with them in the new year for both business and personal reasons. This particular flight is of the personal variety, paid for with Rapid Rewards points transferred in from Ultimate Rewards – 9,638 of them to be exact. Granted, Delta’s schedules are better on the route I wanted to fly, and the dollar fare price was the same for both carriers. In truth, I’d booked Delta first, then out of curiosity checked out Southwest. Same fare, then I priced it in points. Knowing I have plenty of Ultimate Rewards in the bank, I transferred them in and went for it, while canceling my Delta flights within the 24 hours “worry free” window.

Heart One. Stephen M. Keller

The whole transaction – from thought to transfer to purchase took not much more than 5 minutes. I had flight times that worked, and best of all, I kept some cash in my pocket. I’m certain I’ll miss a few trappings of elite status on this quick weekend roundtrip, but it was time to experiment with Southwest out of Atlanta in much the same way as I did with AA/US late last year. Will I “heart” Southwest? Only time will tell. (Image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.)

One thing is for certain, given the unknowns surrounding SkyMiles, it’s time to think about other options. In the end, my decision may be that the bigger airline with better schedules and proven operational reliability is the way to go with the loyalty program being somewhere far down the list. But it’s time for this Atlanta-based flier to at least consider some business decisions of my own. What about you?

-MJ, February 7, 2015