Guide To Southwest Airlines Status Match & Challenge

Guide To Southwest Airlines Status Match & Challenge

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It’s common for airlines to offer some sort of status challenge or status match program, in order to lure frequent flyers who are loyal to competing airlines, but are considering a switch. In the United States, most major airlines offer some sort of a status match challenge opportunity, including Alaska, American, Delta, and United. In this post I wanted to take a look at the program offered by Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Rapid Rewards status match as of February 2024

Southwest Rapid Rewards has a published status match challenge program. With this program, your elite status with virtually any other airline in the United States can be matched to Southwest A-List status for a period of 90 days. Then based on completing a certain amount of flying in that period, you can have your status extended a further 12 months.

Southwest offers an A-List status match challenge

What status will Southwest Airlines match?

Southwest Rapid Rewards will match elite status with any competing airline in the United States. It’s my understanding that all elite tiers from competitors can be matched to A-List status (there’s no match available to A-List Preferred).

Once you’ve successfully enrolled in a Southwest Rapid Rewards A-List status match challenge, your status will be valid for 90 days, and can be extended based on further qualifying activity.

How do you maintain Southwest A-List status?

You can maintain your Southwest A-List status beyond the 90 day period by completing six one-ways (or three roundtrips) within that trial period. These flights need to be revenue tickets, so redeeming Rapid Rewards points for a flight won’t count toward that requirement.

One wrinkle is that you not only have to take those six one-way flights within a 90 day period, but the flights also have to be booked within that timeframe. That’s a rather frustrating restriction that you don’t see from other programs.

For context, Southwest A-List status ordinarily requires 20 one-way flights in a year, so the requirement of six one-way flights over the course of 90 days means you’ll have to fly a bit more than average during that period. Note that while you can ordinarily qualify for A-List status with 35,000 elite qualifying points, there’s no opportunity to qualify for the status challenge using elite qualifying points.

Maintain Southwest status with six one-way flights

How long is matched Southwest A-List status valid for?

Beyond the initial 90 day trial period, you can have your status extended by a further 12 months after completing the status challenge requirements. This isn’t based on the calendar year, so there’s no need to start a status challenge at a certain time in order to maximize value.

How do you request a Southwest Airlines status match?

Requesting a Southwest A-List status match is easy. Just email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Rapid Rewards number
  • Screenshot of your current elite status with a US based carrier

There are a few further things to note when making a request:

  • It can take up to 12 business days for a status match request to be approved
  • Current A-List members who have status expiring aren’t eligible for this offer
  • This offer can be repeated, but isn’t available to those who have received promotional A-List status within the past 12 months
  • I stated this above, but it’s worth emphasizing — only flights booked after enrolling in the offer are eligible, so previously booked travel doesn’t qualify

What are the benefits of Southwest A-List status?

What are Southwest A-List status perks like?

  • Priority boarding for you and everyone on your reservation (you’ll automatically be given a priority boarding position 36 hours in advance)
  • 25% bonus points for every qualifying flight
  • Complimentary same-day standby
  • Priority check-in & security lane access
  • Dedicated A-List phone number

As you can tell, the elite perks are somewhat limited compared to other US airlines. That’s because Southwest doesn’t have first class, and already offers all passengers two free checked bags. But you do get priority boarding, bonus points, and some airport benefits, which are better than nothing when flying Southwest.

Receive priority check-in as an A-List member

Is a Southwest status match challenge worth it?

There are pros and cons to Southwest Airlines’ status challenge program:

  • On the plus side, you can take part in the challenge multiple times over the years, so it’s not a “once in a lifetime” situation
  • The downside to Southwest’s status challenge is that you have to not only take a certain number of flights within 90 days, but also have to book within that time period, which is pretty restrictive

If you have a significant amount of travel coming up on Southwest, then taking part in a status challenge could make a lot of sense.

How can you earn Southwest Companion Pass?

While it’s not a traditional elite tier, Southwest also has Companion Pass, which is pretty lucrative. With this, you can take a companion with you for just the cost of taxes and fees, regardless of whether you’re paying cash or redeeming points. This ordinarily requires 135,000 qualifying points in a year.

There’s no way to status match to this, though the good news is that Companion Pass can be pretty easy to earn. Points earned through Southwest co-branded credit cards do qualify toward Companion Pass, and that even includes the welcome bonuses. This includes the following cards:

In some cases you can get most of the way to earning a Companion Pass with just one credit card welcome bonus. Furthermore, just for having a Southwest co-branded credit card, you get an annual boost of 10,000 qualifying points toward Companion Pass, meaning you really only need to earn 125,000 qualifying points.

Companion Pass can be easy to earn with credit cards

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines offers a status match challenge program, whereby you can receive A-List status for a period of 90 days, and you can have it extended by 12 months after taking six one-way flights. This is a pretty good opportunity, especially given that you can take advantage of it multiple times.

Have any OMAAT readers taken part in a Southwest status challenge? If so, what was your experience like?

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