Southwest Airlines Offering 2x Rapid Rewards Points For Flights

Filed Under: Flight Deals, Southwest

Airlines are starting to offer real incentives for booking flights, and I’m not sure how to feel about this

Southwest offering 2x Rapid Rewards points

Southwest is offering 2x Rapid Rewards points for flights this summer:

  • Registration is required prior to booking travel
  • Valid for flights between May 12 and August 31, 2020
  • There’s no limit to how many bonus points you can earn

How many points do you earn with this promotion?

  • Rapid Rewards members ordinarily earn 12x points on Business Select fares, so will now earn 24x points
  • Rapid Rewards members ordinarily earn 10x points on Anytime fares, so will now earn 20x points
  • Rapid Rewards members ordinarily earn 5x points on Wanna Get Away fares, so will now earn 10x points

Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for ~1.3 cents towards the cost of a ticket on Southwest Airlines, meaning that you’re getting an incremental return of 6.5% to 15.6% with this promotion. That’s a pretty substantial bonus.

This is a good promotion, but is the timing right?

Obviously airlines want people back in the sky, though there are still lots of questions about when it’s responsible to travel.

While I suspect we’ll see lots of promotions from airlines over the coming months, is encouraging travel specifically in the next few months appropriate, or are they encouraging reckless behavior?

Southwest Airlines tickets come with a lot of flexibility, as they allow free changes. However, even so, I think it’s a bit much to be encouraging discretionary travel in the immediate future.

The promotion has the tagline “freedom to hope, to plan, to dream,” but they’re also encouraging traveling almost immediately, so there’s more to it.

For what it’s worth, Southwest’s CEO argues that it’s safe to fly and that an airplane is as safe of an environment as anywhere else, but that seems like a bit of a stretch.

I think American took a better approach in that regard, as the airline published a promotion yesterday incentivizing new bookings for travel between July and December of 2020. The promotion isn’t nearly as generous as this one, though.

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines is offering double points for travel this summer. This is potentially a generous promotion, though it does raise some questions around whether travel brands should be incentivizing discretionary travel right now.

It’s one thing to sell gift cards without expiration dates at a discount, or to even encourage travel later this year, but encouraging travel immediately might cross the line for some.

What do you think — should travel brands be incentivizing travel right now and in the coming weeks, or is that just reckless?

  1. I think a lot of the essential travel going on now is being done by folks who don’t travel all that often under normal circumstances, and that probably means they’re less aligned with any particular airline. If this drives that business to WN, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this promotion.

  2. I assume you believe it would be OK if Southwest (or other airlines) incentivized travel by reducing airfare ticket prices by 6-15%. If so, why is it more or less acceptable for them to incentivize using a comparable amount of points instead? I think if the former is acceptable, so should the latter, as I can’t think of a justified difference between the two. I would be open to being convinced otherwise, however.

    I agree that incentivization (whether by points or prices) at all is contentious right now, but think that also applies to other businesses whose conduct significantly increases the risk of COVID-19 spread (e.g. in-person weekend grocery shopping).

  3. Flying with WN on Friday. Should be interesting to see how the airport and flying experience is.

  4. I agree on the timing.

    What they really should incentivizing travel is to pay now fly later, which is hard for an airline that allows you to book only 5 months out.

    A better incentive should be getting x2 points if you buy today and fly in 2021. Maybe x4 on your 5th trip booked to fly in 2021.

    Lowering the already dynamic price wouldn’t really trigger an impulse purchase since you wouldn’t really know you are getting incentivized. You can hardly tell the difference if WN sells a ticket for $79 or $199. But If they say 20% off $199 even if it dynamically sells for $79 people will still buy it thinking they got 20% off.

  5. Flew Southwest on April 30 to attend to some urgent family care matters. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent! From the re-booking tools to airport check-in to gate agent to in flight crew. Understand about some folks drama about flying and airports. Of huge, major, significant even greater concern is getting on a super crowded BART train in SF Bay area or super jam packed barely standing room only SF MUNI subway or bus. And standing in…waiting in stations and boarding platforms. That will be frightening!

  6. Essentially, booking a SWA ticket is buying a gift card. No change fees or penalties, so why not snag a couple and hope for the best during the promo?

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