Southwest Once Again Plays Dirty Pool With Companion Pass Changes

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en:user:DonFB [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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Southwest just finished offering up to 80,000 points for signing up for a credit card yesterday.

They know that many people signup for their credit cards in order to qualify for a companion pass, that allows them to bring along a companion on their flights for free.

Currently, if you earn 110K Southwest points in a year from select sources, including flights and their own credit card cards, you get a companion pass valid until the end of the following calendar year.

However Southwest announced today, that starting in 2020 you will need to earn 125K points in order to earn a companion pass.

People applied for their credit cards in order to earn that companion pass in January 2020, so that it would be valid until 12/31/21. Now Southwest is changing the rules so that they need to earn 15K more points in order to earn the companion pass.

In other words if someone applied for a card earning 80K points for spending $5,000 and finished that spending after their December statement closed, they would have 85K Southwest points earned in 2020. If they spent another $25K on the card they would have earned 110K points and a companion pass. With these changes they will have to spend another $15K on the card to earn the companion pass.

If Southwest was being honest, this change should have been made when the limited time offers began on 9/10. By waiting until the day after the limited time offers ended they have pulled the wool over the eyes of their customers.

In more positive news, Southwest has announced that their points will no longer expire.

This isn’t the first time Southwest has had bad behavior with their companion pass.

In 2017 they stopped allowing hotel point transfers to count towards earning companion pass without any advance warning.

Some people had already made a point transfer for 2017 before Southwest made the changes.

I advised using Twitter to get Southwest’s attention and filing a DoT complaint against Southwest for deceptive practices.

Some commenters and bloggers called me out for suggesting a DoT complaint when they are within their right to make program changes, but the campaign worked. A few days later Southwest agreed to give a 3 month grace period for hotel point transfers to count towards earning a companion pass.

My advice remains the same today. If you applied for a Southwest card in order to earn a 2020 companion pass file a DoT complaint  and let Southwest know on social media how you feel by retweeting this:

 

 

Did you apply for Southwest cards with hopes to earn 110K points in 2020 for a companion pass?

HT: DoC, via DDF

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49 Comments On "Southwest Once Again Plays Dirty Pool With Companion Pass Changes"

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vabomere

True that is is deceptive to change today, but most people are applying for two cards which is extremely doable. Even with the 70k premiere and a 50k-60k personal, you’ll land over 125k points.

To be honest I’m surprised the CP still exists, and that they allow it to be earned with CC bonuses!

Avi

Companion Pass isn’t a right, it’s a benefit that no other airline comes even close to matching. Let’s not get Southwest to focus too much on it, shall we?

nsx at FlyerTalk

As long as they don’t increase the 100 flights requirement I can still make it.

Eliteflyer

Did Southwest offer the increased sign up or was it Chase?

Yaakov

Would you also recommend filing a DoT complaint about United’s changes? I find them to be very late in the year as I already purchased several flights in 2020 based on the PQM system.

Cook

+1

Yanky

at least the sign up bonus still counts. thats all that matters.

NTorch

They also added change fees for the first time. They say its effective 1/1/21, but I wonder if that’s a typo

“Having the freedom of same-day standby can mean heading home earlier when your plans change last minute. We know how much this benefit means to our A-List and A-List Preferred Members2. In order to keep offering same-day standby free of airline charges4, starting January 1, 2021, anyone who changes their itinerary using same-day standby will be responsible for any additional government taxes and fees that may result.4 On the day of travel, please see a Customer Service Agent at the airport when using this benefit and to learn more about any additional government taxes and fees”

Puzzled

A 15,000 point difference isn’t that much. Why is it deceptive? It would be deceptive if they canceled their mileage program the next day. Really, what do they owe us? Nothing.

hahabye

Hi Dan,

Quick question about the $5k spending threshold in order to receive the 80k mile bonus on the business card I was approved for yesterday:

Do I need to limit my spending so that I don’t hit the $5k spend threshold until December so the 80K points aren’t credited until January 2020 in order to have the valid companion pass until 12-31-21?

In other words if I spend $5k tomorrow on the card and am credited the 80k mile bonus in November would my companion pass then only be valid until 12-31-20?

YY

Totally within their right
They need to be profitable like any other biz

jimjam

I agree that a DOT complaint is warranted, and I applied for one of the cards based on the understanding that the requirement would be 110k points. I would be happy to submit a DOT complaint, but don’t have time to write it. Dan, are you willing to post here what you submitted?

Michael

I earned my Companion Pass on March 7, 2019. The card and my account say it expires on December 31, 2019. Their rules say explicitly that it is valid for the remainder of the calendar year PLUS the next calendar year. When I called, they said if I had qualified in June or July, it would extend to the next calendar year, but since I qualified in March, it doesn’t continue for 2020. Am I missing something?

YoniPDX

FWIW:
DoC reports that some 60k/80k business links are still working with 80k showing on landing page (but not when you start at Chase CC page) and takes you to an application that works from DPs.

Had planned on churning UA cards in June but the card changes and upcoming dynamic chart in November UA card plan was back burner Ed.

I was shocked that 80K offer was up for almost four months was a new Business card and allowed you to SUB a CP with two business cards – AF on biz cards with right award redemption might be almost breakeven.
Will still fly UA if it makes sense or pencils.

Mark

I don’t think offering nearly three months notice is playing dirty. It’s only 15k points more. You can’t expect them to just give them away. In general they’ve been very honest with rapid rewards. Maybe save the hostility for other airlines that deserve it.

YoniPDX

FWIW:
Just saw that you can also earn 15K points with Premier card 1:$1 – not available on Performance card – of course timing will be everything – that rare to earn points/miles on BT

“. 1 point on balance transfers: You’ll earn 1 point for each $1 of the first $15,000 of balance transfers made during the first 90 days from your original account open date. 6,000 bonus points each account anniversary year: You’ll receive 6,000 bonus points each account anniversary year. “Account anniversary year” means the year beginning with your account open date through the anniversary of your account open date, and each 12 months after that. 1,500 tier qualifying points: You’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points…..”

Brandon

The timing is poor, sure. But of all the airlines and mileage programs, I feel Southwest has really been the gold standard for honesty and transparency. And value, too! No change fees, last minute cancellations, mileage refunds, etc. Plus WN cabin crew are far and away nicer than nearly any other airline. CP is a very generous benefit, and I, too, am surprised it still exists via CC bonus. Can’t complain too hard.

Mark

That’s my thinking too. If there’s a big issue complain away but this is silly. If you’re getting it from 2 cards you already hit the threshold. If you can spend 50k+ in 2 weeks you can spend another 15k the next cycle and just get the cp one month later. Leave the poor reps alone.

Texas Totty

Sorry, I’m late with my comment. I was tech limited over Yom Tov.
At first, I was very surprised that there wasn’t more outrage at Southwest’s announcement. As soon as I got the email from Southwest (before Dan’s post) I was incensed at the injustice. Then I started to see the comments roll in and I was shocked that everyone is so quick to forgive the airline for this slight. Especially since this puts me in big trouble now bec I signed my wife up for the 60,000 bonus point card as my companion pass expires at the end of the year and now it seems like it was a waste of time.
Then I realized that most commenters here probably aren’t eligible for the companion pass through opening credit cards either because they already got the bonuses on these cards or they can’t open consumer cards due to 5/24. Others, though they could get the bonuses, have their ways of spending all worked out and another 15k maybe isn’t such a big deal for them to put on the card.
But for many others like my family, companion pass is a savings of hundreds of dollars a year and this will greatly impact us. We have no way of putting an additional 15k on the card right now so we’re at a loss.
Of course, like any company, Southwest can make any changes they want to their offers but doing so after everyone signed up for the cards with this plan in mind is plain old deceit and Dan is 100% right for calling them out on it.

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