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TravelHow to fly for nearly free with the Southwest Companion Pass

How to fly for nearly free with the Southwest Companion Pass


Southwest Airlines remains a favorite for many flyers thanks to its generous ticket exchange policy, complimentary checked luggage and quirky boarding process. But for the most loyal Southwest travelers, the Companion Pass is the highlight of this airline. This coveted pass allows you to designate one person to travel with you for free.

Yes, it’s buy one, get one free on all Southwest flights — whether you’re paying cash or using Rapid Rewards points. You just have to pay the taxes and fees on the ticket.

So, what’s the scoop on this unique perk, and how do you earn it to bring a friend on your next trip for free?

How do you earn the Companion Pass?

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Southwest offers two elite status tiers, A-List and A-List Preferred, and the Companion Pass. Like all Southwest status tiers, you must qualify annually to retain your status.

You can earn the Companion Pass by completing one of the following:

  • Take 100 one-way qualifying flights on Southwest in a year
  • Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a year

Additionally, Southwest is offering the chance to earn the Companion Pass (valid through Feb. 28, 2025) plus 30,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening on the following personal cobranded credit cards: Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.

Earning the Companion Pass through 100 one-way flights is relatively straightforward. You have to complete 100 flights on Southwest in a year. Yes, that’s a lot of flying. For most travelers, the 135,000 qualifying points are an easier route to obtaining the Companion Pass. You can earn these points through Rapid Rewards activities, including:

  • Flying on Southwest
  • Doing business with travel partners like hotels and car rental agencies
  • Dining through the Rapid Rewards Dining program
  • Opening and/or using a Southwest credit card (like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card), which includes a lucrative sign-up bonus

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In addition, just having one of the personal Southwest cards gives you a 10,000-point headstart toward qualification each year.

If you’re not looking for a personal card, consider opening the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card and earning the 80,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You will then have earned at least 85,000 of the 135,000 qualifying points required for the Companion Pass.

Just note that transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest does not count toward Companion Pass qualification.

How does the Companion Pass work?

BEN SMITHSON/THE POINTS GUY

Now, it’s time for the fun part — bringing a friend along on your Southwest flights for (almost) free.

Within a couple of days of your Companion Pass qualification, you’ll receive an email where you can nominate your companion. You can change your companion up to three times per calendar year, so choose the lucky individual wisely. Check out our four-step guide to using the Companion Pass.

As mentioned, you’ll just need to pay the taxes and fees for your companion to fly. On domestic flights, that starts at $5.60 one-way per person, while international flights can be more expensive.

Related: What is Southwest Airlines elite status worth in 2022?

Bottom line

The Southwest Companion Pass lets you book a flight for an additional person at virtually no cost. While 100 one-way flights in a year is a steep requirement, earning 135,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points isn’t too far out of reach when you find a generous cobranded credit card welcome bonus.

And remember, for a limited time, you can earn a Companion Pass — plus 30,000 bonus points — by applying for a personal Southwest credit card and spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

With Southwest flying domestically and internationally, who wouldn’t want to bring a loved one to Hawaii, Aruba or Costa Rica?



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