Southwest Airlines Extends Companion Pass, Makes It Easier To Earn

Filed Under: Southwest

In 2020 we saw airline loyalty programs largely extend status, or at least make it easier to earn. Given that travel hasn’t recovered much, we’re seeing a similar trend in 2021. Today a variety of positive Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards policies have been announced for the 2021 program year.

Southwest Companion Pass extended by six months

Southwest Rapid Rewards had already Companion Pass expiration from December 31, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Those same memberships have now been extended by a further six months, through December 31, 2021. You can expect your accounts to reflect this change within a week.

That means 2020 Companion Pass members will have in the end received a 12 month status extension. Note that this doesn’t apply to members who earned a promotional Companion Pass, or those who previously received an extension.

For those of you not familiar with Companion Pass:

  • It ordinarily requires 100 flights or 125,000 qualifying points
  • The most valuable perk is that you can always have a companion fly with you for just the cost of the taxes, regardless of whether paying cash or redeeming points; this is one of the best deals in travel

Note that A-List status had already been extended by 12 months (through December 31, 2021), so there’s no further extension there for now, which is fair enough.

Southwest makes it easier to earn status

Beyond the Companion Pass extension, Southwest Rapid Rewards is making it easier to earn status in 2021, at least for those who had an account open as of December 31, 2020. In recognition of normal flying patterns having been interrupted, all Rapid Rewards members are getting a boost of:

  • 15,000 qualifying points and 10 flight credits towards A-List and A-List Preferred
  • 25,000 qualifying points and 25 flight credits towards Companion Pass

For context on A-List and A-List Preferred:

  • A-List ordinarily requires 25 flights or 35,000 qualifying points, and offers perks like bonus points, priority check-in, priority boarding, same-day standby, and more
  • A-List Preferred ordinarily requires 50 flights or 70,000 qualifying points, and includes many of the above perks, plus 100% bonus points, free inflight Wi-Fi, and more

This potentially gets you 40% of the way to A-List, or 20% of the way to Companion Pass. This could be a great incentive to get a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, since points earned on those cards qualify towards Companion Pass.

Earn Southwest status through credit card spending

In 2021, those with Southwest Airlines credit cards will have uncapped spending towards A-List and A-List Preferred status:

  • Those with the Premier, Priority, Premier Business, and Performance Card, can earn 1,500 qualifying points towards A-List or A-List Preferred for every $10,000 spent
  • This is valid between the first day of the January 2021 billing cycle through the last statement of 2021
  • There’s no cap on how many qualifying points you can earn towards A-List and A-List Preferred during the promotion period, so you could earn this purely through spending

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is extending Companion Pass for a further six months, and is also making it significantly easier to earn A-List or Companion Pass in 2021.

Will you benefit from this Southwest Rapid Rewards development?

  1. What about people who earned CP during 2020? I literally received my email notification the day the NBA shut down operations and things really got restricted. Any signs that SWA will allow people like me to get a few extra months? I haven’t been able to use a single companion pass, and I feel like I’ve missed out on the majority of the benefit (yeah yeah, first world problems).

  2. Thanks for posting. You wrote” Note that this doesn’t apply to members who earned a promotional Companion Pass, or those who previously received an extension.” But SW email says”*This does not apply to Members who earned a promotional Companion Pass or did NOT previously receive an extension through June 30, 2021.” I had been extended 6 months once, buy site still says same expiration – June. Hmmm

  3. @michael phillips: I’m in the same boat as you. I’m a companion on my wife’s account that should’ve expired on 12/31/20, but we received the original extension through June 2021. When looking at my account, the companion status is still set to expire end of June this year. So, my excitement from reading this article dwindled when I saw that, but perhaps it will be updated in the Southwest system in near future?

  4. What about the folks whose Companion Pass is set to expire 12/31/2021? I qualified for CP ~March 2020, looking forward to using it for ~21 months, but have largely been unable to. I really wish Southwest would look out for us and push that expiration back into 2022.

  5. If you go to the page on Southwest’s web site that explains all the details it says that the extension from 6/30 will be changed within a week to 12/31. So check your status again in a week.

  6. So if you had a Companion Pass for 2020 already, and flew enough in 2020 to earn one for 2021, that 2020 travel was kind of pointless after you re-earned A-List Preferred. All the travel and co-branded card use toward to CP from A-LP could’ve been utilized for status on another airline. All you really got for it was the certainty you’d have a CP in 2021 (and few more RR points). But the email did say right up front that they appreciated “those who have traveled during the toughest of times,” not “we appreciate those who nonetheless traveled like it was 2019.”

  7. Like several people above, I earned mine in March of 2020, just in time for everything to shut down, so I didn’t get even 1 flight using the pass. I inquired this morning on their chat feature with a SWA agent and they said there are no plans for people like me at this time, but they are always looking at the situation and she’ll bring it up in the next meeting…

    We basically will lose about 75% of the benefit IF, BIG IF, we can comfortably travel in July of 2021 until the end of this year. Some may say we can be using the benefit now, but reason suggests that it’s obvious why many people do not feel comfortable, so for people like us, we should get extended until Dec 2022, this way we get (in the full three year), maybe half of the time where we can comfortably travel and take advantage of the pass.

  8. The two month CP after 1 flight has been a total bust. It would be nice if they at least extended it 2 more months.

  9. @Carey Kohout . Hi. wanted to update. My account now says 12/31/21! Maybe it took awhile to update. Cheers!

  10. PS – To my comment and others above who already earned CP to 12/31/2021. I worry that this extension of the 12/31/2020 to 12/31/2021 crowd now reduces the chance that our date will be extended. Since we’re all now in the same pool of expiration date, it’s probably too hard to tease out an extension only for the “real” enddate 12/31/2021 crowd. Boo.

  11. It makes absolutely NO SENSE to me why they wouldn’t also extend the Companion Pass for those that earned them in early 2020. We received ours in February, 2020, and have been subjected to exactly the same travel restrictions of those that earned the pass in 2019!

    It’s a blessing for sure for those 2019 earners, but feeling a little crusty and unloved by my usual favorite airline – the LOVE Airline!!

  12. I used to love southwest but this just stinks. I, too, qualified for CP in 2020 and havent used it even once. So folks who earned it in 2019 and used it in 2019 and early 2020 essentially get the same expiration date as people who earned it in 2020. What a joke, Southwest. I have been a A-List Preferred for a decade but will look elsewhere now.

  13. Same boat as others, re-earned companion pass in 2020. If Southwest doesn’t extend us another year then it’s clear they don’t value us and our continued commitment during the pandemic. To make things worse I earned it via credit card spend, not extending us means they’re undermining their credit card product…I gave up 60k Chase points by using my Southwest card vs my freedom unlimited. This is all sorts of bad news for consumers who actually choose Southwest

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