I got the Southwest companion pass and you should too.

miles and points

It looks like I’m going to be flying Southwest Airlines a bit more in the next two years.

I recently attained the Southwest Companion Pass. For those not familiar with the pass, it essentially allows you to bring a companion with you on any Southwest flight for free, regardless of whether you paid for the flight with cash or redeemed miles. You are only responsible are for mandatory taxes for the companion, which is approximately $11 per round-trip. In other words, you are getting a buy one, get one free deal on all Southwest flights while you have the pass.

How to get the pass

Earn 110,000 rapid reward points on Southwest Airlines. If you fly Southwest a lot this is very attainable. For the rest of us:

  • Credit cards – Chase offers Southwest credit cards that come with a hefty bonus. The bonuses and spending on the card do count towards the 110,000 points needed. The personal and business version of the credit cards both offer 50,000 point bonuses for sign-ups making those who choose to go this route get within easy reach of the 110K mark.
  • Point transfer from partners – This is how I got my companion pass. I converted 90,000 Starwood points to 270,000 Marriott points and redeemed them for a air and hotel travel package. I ended up with a Marriott certificate for 7 award nights and 120,000 Southwest points. The 120K points put me over the 110K mark, and I received an email notifying me I had attained the pass. Miles for Family has a good post on how to do this. Note that Southwest has announced they will no longer allow this after March 31st, 2017 so act quickly if you want to go this route.

Once you have earned the pass, it is good for up to two years. The pass is good for the year you earn it and the entire following year. Since I got my pass in January of this year, it will be good through December 31st of the following year. You should get the pass as early in the year as possible to maximize the time frame.

Booking our first flight

I took a look at Southwest’s route map to see all the destinations they serve. I was interested in a weekend trip so I checked the box nonstop flights only, since connecting flights can really eat up your time on a weekend hop. It’s currently winter for me, so I was interested in getting a head start on summer by flying down to Miami for a weekend in April.

One of the great things about Southwest flights booked on miles is that they are refundable if you change your mind. I booked a flight miles and asked my partner if she was good with the dates; I paid $11.20 in taxes for her companion ticket so she could also join me.

Southwest serves almost every major destination in the US, Caribbean, and Central America so we can easily use the pass for budget vacation trips. Another great use for the companion pass is to re-position yourself to another airport if you find a really good deal out of there to Europe or wherever.

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