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.
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?