Are you tired of spending a fortune on air travel? Do you dream of jet-setting across the country with a companion by your side without breaking the bank?
Then, you might just have a solution. The Southwest Companion Pass is a traveler’s golden ticket to fly their companion for free (plus other taxes and fees).
While being eligible to obtain this pass usually requires you to earn several tens of thousands of points in a single calendar year, there are other ways to become eligible for one.
Here’s what you can expect from this article:
- How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to use your Southwest Companion Pass
- Some more crucial details
How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Method 1: Earn Southwest Points
The current eligibility stands at earning 135,000 Companion Pass-eligible points within a single calendar year to unlock the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
While that may sound like a daunting task, there are a few ways to earn these points.
(a.) By flying with Southwest
(b.) By spending through the Southwest shopping portal
(c.) By booking hotels and renting cars with Southwest partners
Method 2: Use a Southwest Co-Branded Credit Card
While method 1 is straightforward, it is still not the fastest way to earn your pass.
An easier solution to earn Companion Pass-eligible points is by using a Southwest co-branded credit card.
This allows you to earn points with your everyday spending. Additionally, welcome bonuses count towards earning the Companion Pass, making it even more attainable.
An added perk if you own a Southwest co-branded credit card is that you’ll receive an automatic boost of 10,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points every year.
This brings the requirement down to 125,000 points per year.
So, whether you’re a frequent flyer with Southwest or simply looking for an easier way to earn points, a Southwest cobranded credit card can be a valuable tool for unlocking the rewards of the Southwest Companion Pass.
Try and earn your qualifying miles as early in the year as possible. This is because the pass is good for the remainder of the current year and the entirety of the following year.
Method 3: Get the Latest Southwest Credit Cards
Southwest’s three new limited-offer credit cards are a hack to earning the Companion Pass faster. Each comes with a different annual fee and different anniversary points.
Instead of needing to accrue 135,000 points throughout the year, you can earn the Companion Pass once you hit the card’s minimum spending requirement within the first few months of account opening.
Then, you’re granted a Companion Pass that is valid through Feb. 28, 2024.
While this method doesn’t give you a Companion Pass with the usual validity period, it is still far easier to earn.
Here is a list of the limited-offer credit cards on the market that earn you a Companion Pass through Feb. 28, 2024, plus 30,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Using Your Southwest Companion Pass
Once you’ve earned a Companion Pass, Southwest makes it incredibly easy to use.
Here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: Set up your Southwest Companion Pass
As soon as you earn a Companion Pass, you should receive an email from Southwest with details on how to add your companion to the pass.
You must have your companion’s full name — as it appears on their ID— birth date, email address, and a corresponding Rapid Rewards account number.
You can also call Southwest to designate your companion. But it’s easier to make the initial selection online. Imagine spelling ‘Rajesh Koothrapalli’ to your customer service agent. Not worth the effort.
Step 2: Check for seat availability for your entire traveling party
Once you select your companion, it’s time to make that long pending trip.
A key point to note before booking for your next trip is to check that there are enough seats available on the flight for your entire traveling party.
A Companion Pass fare can only be added if there is a seat available on the flight.
For example, if you have a family of three that will be traveling, including one person on a Companion Pass, you will search Southwest.com for three seats.
All three seats do not have to be under the same fare bucket. If there are only two seats left with ‘Wanna Get Away’ fares, but there are also ‘Anytime’ and ‘Business Select’ fares available, in addition to those two cheaper fares, your booking will still work.
Step 3: Book flights for everyone other than your companion
No, you’re not ditching them from the plan.
With a Southwest Companion Pass, you will book flight reservations as you normally would for everyone in your traveling party EXCEPT the ‘companion’.
If you are purchasing these tickets with cash, don’t forget to add the Rapid Rewards numbers of everyone in your traveling party to the booking. There’s no reason to leave points-earning possibilities on the table — even kids can earn frequent flyer points on Southwest.
Step 4: Make your companion’s flight booking
Once you‘ve booked flights for everyone in your traveling party except for your companion, the next step is to secure a flight reservation for the remaining person.
You need to be quick and do so immediately after you book your flight so you don’t lose out on seat availability.
As the Companion Pass holder, you should return to the Southwest website and follow these steps:
- Log in to your Rapid Rewards account. Go to “My Account” at the top of the home page.
- On the left-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a section called “My upcoming trips” which will reflect the flight reservation you just made — along with any other trips you have booked on Southwest.
- You’ll see a button at the bottom of the reservation that says “Add Companion.” Click on it.
- You’ll be redirected to a pre-filled page called, “Trip & Price Details” that shows you the flight cost and taxes.
- Click “Continue” to go to the next page that includes “Passenger & Payment Info.” Your companion’s name and identifying information will also already be filled in.
- Finally, you’ll be prompted through the process to pay applicable taxes and fees and secure the flight reservation for the companion. If you have a credit card already saved to your account profile, the checkout process is quicker and easier.
Some More Crucial Details
The easy part is done. Here are some extra pointers to be aware of to prevent any confusion in the future:
1. Your companion will always receive a separate confirmation number
When you book flights for a group or family together, everyone will have the same confirmation number.
BUT, with the Companion Pass, your companion will always be assigned a different Southwest confirmation number than the rest of the party.
Why is this a big deal?
Because, when you have to check in for your flight, you won’t be able to check in online together. It could help if you are checking in on two devices simultaneously. If you check in one person first and then check in the other person next, you may lose out on some of the better boarding positions.
2. You must call to change companions
Time to let go? Just kidding.
While you can change your companion three times in a calendar year, Southwest Companion Pass holders should know that doing so requires you to make a phone call. There is no way to change a companion online.
While the fine print on Southwest’s site says that it may take up to 21 business days for processing, the change is nearly instantaneous.
It’s also good to note that you won’t be able to change your companion until you’ve completed ALL travel with your current companion.
Don’t let high travel costs hold you back. With the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll easily save thousands of dollars on air travel. Book your next flight with a companion and start saving today!