The Southwest Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program is very different from those of legacy carriers. While the major U.S. airlines started making transitions to revenue-based programs last year, Rapid Rewards has been revenue-based for years. In addition, Southwest doesn’t have business class, and unlike most airlines, it offers perks like free checked baggage and free cancellation to all, and not just elite customers. So while Rapid Rewards does have elite tiers, its perks and benefits are quite different from other programs.
There are two elite levels and a special status in the Rapid Rewards program: A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass. Qualification requirements are as follows:
- A-List: 25 one-way qualifying flights or 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points
- A-List Preferred: 50 one-way qualifying flights or 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points
- Companion Pass (not a separate tier, but a great benefit): 100 one-way qualifying flights or 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points
- None: Southwest doesn’t have premium classes of service
Rapid Rewards Bonus Miles
- A-List: 25% earning bonus
- A-List Preferred: 100% earning bonus
- Companion Pass: Partner flies for free
- A-List and A-List Preferred:
- Priority boarding
- Priority check-in and security lane access
- Standby priority
- Dedicated A-List or A-List Preferred Member phone line.
Complimentary Lounge Access
Notable Additional Rewards for Elite members
- A-List Preferred:
- Free Inflight WiFi
- Companion Pass
Companion Pass allows you to fly a partner for free. This is probably the most generous free ticket of its kind, since not only are there no fare restrictions, but you can also use it with an award flight. That means you can get two seats for the price of one award ticket.
Other Ways to Earn Status
Chase issues four Southwest credit cards that can help you get some tier qualifying points toward elite status.
You get 1,500 tier qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card, topped at 15,000 points per year. Note that these are not real Rapid Rewards points that you can use for award booking, but only status points.
However, since Southwest doesn’t have upgrades or lounges, which are the most valuable perks for frequent travelers, the Companion Pass appears to be the most valuable. And it’s easy to reach, too.
You can become eligible for the Companion Pass by accumulating 110,000 points per year in almost any way you want. You can get them by earning points with the Chase Southwest credit cards or transferring points from hotel programs with very few restrictions. As soon as you reach 110,000 Southwest points, you qualify for the Companion Pass, which is valid until the end of the next calendar year.
Please note that having the Companion Pass does not qualify you for A-List or A-List Preferred.
Status Match/Status Challenge
Southwest appears to offer Status Challenge on a case-to-case basis from domestic airlines. If you are approved for the challenge, you will probably get a 6-month A-List status and need to fly six one-way or three round-trip flights within 90 days. Send your request to RapidRewards@wnco.com.
Earning Elite Points on Partner Airlines
- Not available