Getting elite status can make your travel experiences much more rewarding and convenient from the perks that come with it. If you’re new to the points and miles world, you might wonder how valuable these perks are and if they’re worth the effort.
Check out our list of the best credit card welcome bonuses here.
We will go over every tier in the Southwest Airlines elite status program and put a value on each perk they have to offer. Additionally, we will cover the Southwest’s Companion Pass which is one of the most generous benefits in the travel industry. Then, you’ll be able to see if the elite status and Companion Pass is worth getting.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
• 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases & Rapid Rewards® hotel/car rental partner purchases;
• 1x point on all other purchases.
Some perks include receiving 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available, savings of 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi, and more!
This card carries a $149 annual fee and no transaction fees.
Table of Contents
Southwest Airlines Elite Status & Companion Pass Review
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program comes with 2 elite status tiers: A-List and A-List Preferred and the Companion Pass offer.
Here are some of the perks included in these tiers below:
|Priority check-in & security||x||x|
|Priority phone line||x||x|
The Companion Pass is one of the most valuable perks that comes with the Rapid Rewards program. In other words, it lets you book an extra ticket (for your Companion) for every flight you take with Southwest through the end of the pass term. This will not include taxes and fees (Starting from $5.60 one way). After you’ve earned this benefit, Companion Pass is valid to the end of the following year.
To be eligible for their elite status or Companion Pass, you must earn a specific amount of eligible points or fly a certain amount of qualifying one-way flights in one calendar year.
|A-List||A-List Preferred||Companion Pass|
or 25 flights
or 50 flights
or 100 flights
Tier-qualifying points are earned when you buy tickets for southwest flights or by using your:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
- The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
Points that count towards the Companion Pass will include tier-qualifying points and:
- Partner hotel stays & partner car rentals
- Dining with the Rapid Rewards Dining program
- Shopping through Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Opening and using a Southwest credit card
- Purchases from retail and service partners
An eligible one-way flight is a trip from origin to destination, it includes any connections as well. For example, a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago counts as a single one-way flight, whether the flight is nonstop or has connections.
Southwest Airlines Elite Status & Companion Pass Value
This is the lowest tier in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. It will require either 35,000 tier0eligible points or 25 qualifying one-way flights in one calendar year. For the purpose of this analysis, we will assume that you’ve earned 42,000 eligible points with a $2,940 total spend ($0.07/point cost).
- Points bonus ($160). Gain 25% more points than members with no status. Based on a $2,940 total spend, you’ll earn an extra 10,500 points.
- Priority check-in & security ($150). Since Southwest offers free checked bags for all passengers, their check-in lines are usually much longer than other carriers. This is why having priority check-in is very beneficial when you fly with Southwest.
- Priority boarding ($250). Receive a boarding position 36 hours before your flight. A-List priority falls behind the higher-tier status and for people who paid for Business Select tickets. The best case scenario, you’ll be able to board with Group A. This perk will help you not worry about checking in 24 hours before departing to receive the best boarding spot. Additionally, avoid paying the Early Bird Check-in fee that starts with $15 one way per passenger.
- Free same-day standby ($75). Standby on an earlier flight at no charge for flights between the same cities and on the same date of travel. You’ll be given priority over non-status travelers. However, you must pay the fare difference if a seat opens up on a flight outside the terms listed above.
- Priority phone line ($50). Access the priority phone line when a major weather event or other problem appears.
This is the highest tier in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program which needs either 70,000 tier-qualifying points or 50 eligible one-way flights in one calendar year. For this analysis, we will assume that you’ve earned 84,000 qualifying points with a $5,880 total spend ($0.07/point cost).
- Points bonus ($1,260). Gain 100% more points than members with no status. Based of the total spend above, you’ll earn an extra 84,000 points.
- Priority check-in & security ($300). Same perk as A-List status, but calculated to be more frequent utilization.
- Priority boarding ($600). Boarding position is automatically assigned 36 hours before departing. You’ll be prioritized over A-List members. Note: Business Select travelers have priority over A-List Preferred.
- Free inflight WiFi ($400). Receive free internet access on board. This service is available on all Southwest planes and costs $8 a day.
- Free same-day standby ($175). Get complimentary same-day standby on all Southwest flights with priority over A-List members. Same restrictions as A-List status applies.
- Priority phone line ($100). Same benefits as A-List status but calculated to be a more frequent utilization.
If you earn 125,000 qualifying points or 100 eligible one-way flights in one calendar year, youl’ll receive the Companion Pass. This reward is basically a “Buy One, Get One Free” on all Southwest flights and award tickets. When you earn this pass, there isn’t a limitation on the amount of times you can use your Companion Pass (until it expires).
Additionally, there are plenty of ways to earn Companion Pass eligible points such as:
- Premise #1. We assume that you earned 130,000 points, surpassing the Companion Pass threshold. Half of these points come from flying Southwest, while the other 65,000 points come from the Southwest partners. So, this is around a $4,550 total spend ($0.07/point cost) on Southwest flights. Note: with 65,000 points earned by flying, you’ll get an A-List status.
- Premise #2. We assume you’ve earned 130,000 points, but these points are only from flying Southwest. So, this is around a $9,100 total spend ($0.07/point cost) on Southwest flights. Note: With 130,000 points earned with flying, you’ll unlock the A-List Preferred status.
Here are the estimates for Companion Pass Premise #1 and #2:
|Premise #1||Premise #2|
|Priority check in & security||$225||$450|
|Priority phone line||$50||$100|
- Points bonus. With 65,000 points earned from flying in Premise #1, you’ll receive 16,250 bonus points (Worth $243.75) from having A-List status. Additionally, with 130,000 points earned from flying in Premise #2, you’ll get 130,000 bonus points (worth $1,950) with the A-List Referred Status.
- Priority check-in & security. Same perk as A-List and A-List Preferred.
- Inflight WiFi. Those in Premise #2 situation get the same perks as A-List Preferred.
- Same-day standby. Same benefit as A-List and A-List Preferred.
- Priority phone line. Same perk as A-List and A-List Preferred.
- Companion Pass. Value of Companion Pass depends on how often you can bring a companion with you on a flight. Based on our value on the assumption that you will bring a companion:
- On 12 roundtrip flights worth $250 each (Premise #1).
- On 16 roundtrip flights worth $250 each (Premise #2).
Are Southwest Elite Status & Companion Pass Worth It?
With the values given above, is the Southwest Rapid Rewards elite status or Companion Pass worth it for you? You should base your decision on your travel style and needs. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help make your decision.
- Does Southwest fly to where you want to go? Southwest elite status and Companion Pass aren’t worth it if you don’t fly with Southwest regularly. Check their service from your home airport and see how easily you can get to your choice destinations.
- Do the benefits matter to you? It doesn’t make sense to work towards Southwest elite status or Companion Pass unless the benefits are worth it.
- How often do you travel? If you aren’t a frequent flyer, then pushing for elite status or Companion Pass isn’t worth the effort. These perks will only apply when you travel with Southwest. Plus, if you don’t use their perks, the value of this decreases.
- Do you prioritize price and convenience? Will you use Southwest even if it’s not the cheapest option? In other words, would you book a Southwest flight with one stopover over a cheaper, nonstop flight with JetBlue? If you don’t want to trade in price and convenience for status and companion pass, then it’s not for you.
Every person places their own value for each benefit, so you might come up with different numbers than the ones we gave you. One person might sleep on the plane, so free inflight WiFi isn’t worth much to them. Another might always have their travel plans set in stone, so they don’t put value on complimentary same-day standby. Feel free to adjust the numbers we used to better fit your needs.
The value estimates are based on the perks you would get after already getting the status and being eligible each year afterwards. Being new to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, you won’t get any perks from the first 35,000 tier-qualifying points it takes for you to unlock A-List status.
To get the status values and perks, we need to determine a specific amount of flying and corresponding amount of spending:
Wanna Get Away: 6 tier-qualifying points/$1 spent
Anytime: 10 tier-qualifying points/$1 spent
Business Select: 12 tier-qualifying points/$1 spent
For this particular analysis, we assumed the following:
- You earned 20% more tier-qualifying points than the minimum required at that level.
- You spent an average of $0.07 per tier0qualyfing point. This is if 80% of your Southwest ticket purchases are Wanna Get Away fares, 10% Anytime fares and 10% Business Select fares.
As mentioned above, feel free to adjust the number to match what types of Southwest tickets you would normally get.
Southwest Airlines has a great base of loyal fans thanks to their benefits and how valuable they are. However, are their elite status and Companion pass worth it for you? Hopefully, this guide helped you answer that question.
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