Southwest Relents, Will Allow Hotel Point Transfers To Count For Companion Pass For 3 More Months!

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Update: Southwest has now posted this change on their website here.


On Sunday, Southwest stealthily changed their program rules without advance warning, removing hotel point transfers as a method to earn Southwest Companion Pass.

They timed that change exactly to the day when many people were waiting to transfer their hotel points in order to earn 2 full years of companion pass status.

Today they made matters worse by sending out emails congratulating people who didn’t get Companion Pass status for earning Companion Pass. That’s a whole new level of trolling.

I filed an official complaint about Southwest’s unannounced program rules change with the DoT and recommended that readers who felt that Southwest was being deceptive should do the same.

Many others took offense that I suggested taking that course of action. Some people felt so strongly that they even posted expletive filled messages.

Apparently sticking up for your rights and exercising free speech is now a bad thing. Would they feel the same if Southwest cut the value of their points in half without warning?

Others agreed with my approach and some even cancelled their Southwest credit cards due to their behavior.

I’ve had good luck with the DoT in the past. They helped me get a full refund and compensation for my cancelled American Airlines trip to London when they stranded us in JFK overnight.

The DoT responded to me as follows,

“This responds to your communication regarding Southwest Airlines. The U.S. Department of Transportation seeks to ensure that all airline passengers are treated fairly. Complaints from consumers are helpful to us in determining whether the airlines are in compliance with our rules and to track trends or spot areas of concern that warrant further action.

We will forward your complaint to the airline and ask the company to respond directly to you with a copy to us. Airlines are required to acknowledge receipt of a consumer complaint within 30 days and provide a substantive response to the complainant within 60 days. We will review the airline’s response. If you need to contact me, please include your name and case number (see above). I will make every effort to reply to your message within one business day.

If our review of your complaint and the response from the company discloses a potential violation of our rules, we may pursue enforcement action. Generally, we pursue enforcement action on the basis of a number of complaints which may indicate a pattern or practice of violating our rules. Your complaint may be among those considered and may lead to appropriate enforcement action including the assessment of civil penalties. However, we have no authority to order compensation for individual complainants.”

Zach Honig reports that Southwest has decided to relent rather than fight. Here is the statement they sent him,

“As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.
In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.

Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.

To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.

We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!”


Sure it was a great opportunity, but personally I fail to see why this was a loophole. Regardless Southwest is well within their rights to change their program terms, provided they give advance notice. I applaud them for coming clean and making their customers whole.

I definitely think that the noise on social media as well as the DoT complaints helped the cause.

So there you have it. If you earn 110K points by 12/31/17 you will be able to take a companion with you for free whenever you fly on Southwest until 12/31/18. Until 3/31/17 it will count hotel point transfers towards companion pass status. After 3/31/17 only points from the Southwest credit cards, from flying on Southwest, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners will count. The companion pass works on paid tickets, Southwest award tickets, and tickets booked with AMEX or Chase points, though you need to call AMEX or Chase to actually book travel on Southwest.

The best hotel transfer options are:
-Hyatt, where 50K points will earn 30K Southwest points. You can transfer Chase points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
-Starwood, where 90K points can transfer into 270K points Marriott points which will earn 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott hotel. I’ve written about that option in the pass and will write more about that option shortly.

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33 Comments on "Southwest Relents, Will Allow Hotel Point Transfers To Count For Companion Pass For 3 More Months!"

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Michael

Hi all. If I earned a pass in 2016 which I can use for this year- can I earn again in 2017 to be used for 2018 ( I assume that can’t get double benefits for 2017). Thanks

Josh

So, if I transfer in 100,000 now will they still count toward CP if I don’t earn the remaining 10,000 (via credit card spend) until June? I’m guessing they will.

Hamavin

Thank you!! If I have 53k southwest and 90k marriot would you reccomend transferring 37k spg or 64k and get120?

Zev

Nice work! Quick question. How long does it take from after the transfer for the companion pass to be issued?

How long does it take for the Marriott 7 day certificate to be issued?

Dan

@Michael:
Sure.

@Josh:
Yes.

@Hamavin:
I’d go for 120.

@Zev:
Should take effect within a couple days.
The electronic 7 night certificate is issued right away.

MW

Thank you to all those who complained to DOT. However, sales rep at SW denies this is true (and she spoke to two supervisors who also denied this). Anyone else confirm? It is not on their terms and conditions…. It is possible their staff did not get an updated memo with the change yet.

@Zev

CP- 3 business days, 7 day certificate-immediately or within 15 min.

Dan

@MW:
Give it a day for the dust to settle.

Daniel Shamooelian

Do you need to call in to transfer 270,000 marriot points to southwest? The highest option I see online is to transfer 140,000 marriot rewards to 50,000 southwest points…

Jim

I filed a complaint with the DOT also Dan. I don’t see anything unfair about that.

I have enough points for 5 nights at Cat 7 or 7 nights at Cat 5. Really want the 5 night option, but don’t own a Marriott timeshare. Think they’ll give me a hard time about buying the 5 night option?

nsx at FlyerTalk

No way did any DOT complaints cause this result: The timeframe was way too short. It must have been direct complaints to Southwest from long-time loyal Southwest customers who, unlike the opportunists, had earned the right to be treated fairly.

This decision will cost Southwest money but it’s the right thing to do. I’m sure they wish they had come out with this version from the start.

Dan

@Daniel Shamooelian:
You need to call.
I’ll write about that option again in the morning.

@Jim:
It’s tough to get that.

@nsx at FlyerTalk:
Maybe, maybe not.
DoT forwarded a flood of complaints to Southwest. There were likely many direct complaints as well. There were complaints all over social media and blogs.

One thing I learned from the Google shutdowns is that lots of noise is a good thing. The most noise the better. I sure won’t apologize for making the noise I made.

I don’t claim to know what exactly broke the camel’s back. Perhaps it was the aggregate level of noise coming from all directions? The cost of potential litigation, DoT fines, and/or class action suits? What matters is that they decided that it wasn’t worth the fight and I applaud them for that.

Mountain Man

Thank you Dan!

WingIt

I applaud SWA for ultimately doing the right thing; albeit they needed soe nudging. Two days ago, I had the type of sour taste which normally results in me not becoming a return customer at an establishment; tonight, I see some of that taste has dissipated, yet some is still there. This means I likely will stay a SWA paying customer as well as continue recommending them to family, friends, and coworkers – most if not all are paying customers, and some have collegeage kids who are getting their first experiences to SWA as part of their going-away from home experience. This is how your grow your future, through referrals and the next generation.

In the end, I decided reach out to SWA directly instead of going full steam with a DOT complaint. SWA has been good to the family and I have learned sometimes it pays to play it slow. But, don’t get me wrong, I was on my third DOT draft, in case I wished to proceed in a week or two.

Peace, everyone, and SWA -thank you for listening to your customers.

Joetraveler

This is an extraordinary outcome, and we owe Dan our deepest thanks for spearheading this campaign (and I’m not even shooting for companion pass this year). Let’s take this as a reminder that it is meaningful when people gather together for a worthy cause.

jak

Can we just have 1 ‘quit whining’ guy say ‘good job’? just one little itty bitty round of applause for dan and his success once more of amplifying the voice of people? There used to be so many, i cant imagine theyve all had their computers confiscated….

Thanks Dan…keep it up! ALL of it!

hilton point

Dan, i happen to have about 150K of HHONORS points which i got for the hell of it when AMEX offered 100k signup bonus in april/may 2016. i figured it cant hurt. i have no intention of using them at hilton bec i can always find rooms at great prices + military & federal discounts which goes a long way outside the tri-state + the points i make by paying with other cards. also even if u dont pay with the hilton u can get the benefits just by having a Hilton CC.
anyway, id really appreciate ur advise on what to do with them.
can i somehow use them for Southwest? is that the best option?

Hilton Points

id also like to say thank you! almost everything ive learned about credit (in general) & points/miles/rewards have been because of you! i follow your site daily for those articles. myself & now my siblings have made 1,000s of $$/free flights/endless perks because of your knowledge which you share so freely. i do this only on my free time & gd knows that wouldnt be possible without your detailed write-ups.
thank you Dan!

leaf

Great. Thanks for the effort that led to this!
Has anyone had luck with the 5 night option (without being a timeshare owner)?
@dan can you please address this in the post?

Meir

Wow! Good work Dan! Thanks for helping us be heard. I transferred on the morning of Jan 1st so this is especially good news to me!

dan1

@leaf:
Might get lucky after calling different more than 10 numbers / offices, lol

JaK

Dan, thanks for leading this and for the successful outcome. Others simply accepted the unfair decision by SW, but you were articulate in why the SW decision was wrong and offered your readers helpful options to push back. Of all those who dealt with this issue, I feel that you are the one most responsible for SW correcting their bad decision. And thanks to SW for recognizing their error and correcting this within days.

Northjersey

Random question. Can you book southwest flights with amex rewards pts and if so if I book a sw flight via those pts through amex travel site could I still use sw companion pass or does all travel foe the companion pass need to be booked directly via sw site. I just got Plat business amex card and seeing the use of them. Thanks!

Tony

So if I wanted to start from scratch as I do use SW 3-5 times a year, which SW CC should I start with. ANd then how would I get companion pass?

jack

Thanks Dan! This is actually extremely relevant to me. As I have tons of Marriott points and I was specifically waiting for 2017 so I can get both years in. Then I saw your post last year that you never know they may stop it. So I am delighted you were able to help with the cause and hopefully now I can get companion for 2 years.

Anonymous

Does the Marriott 7 night certificate ever expire?

Joe P

Dan – thank you! One question though:

MUST you book a SPECIFIC Hotel & Air package RIGHT AWAY, or can you transfer the needed points and commit to a Hotel & Air Package in general, but then choose where specifically to fly & stay at some point later? Thank you.

mike

Great news all! Does anyone know if I can book southwest points in my wife’s name and get certificate with my account- the reason I am asking is because I am gold and can really use upgrade for summer vacation. The alternitive question would be if my wife gets the certificate- by adding me to the reservation would we be gold? Thanks so much.

Emgee

What’s southwest expiration policy on the points ?

leaf

@Joe P
You will get a 7-night certificate right away valid for one year. You can choose later. I believe you can add points later to upgrade to higher category as well. Many reported being able to extend past expiration date. Perhaps YMMV.

Joey

I also want to give a big THANK YOU to Dan!!!!! He has taught me so much and my family and I thank you. I thought your initial posting about this was right on and very respectful.

Eli

Can anyone please confirm if this worked for you? Was anyone able to get the companion pass?

Eli

Thank you Dan! Your hard work is GREATLY appreciated!!!

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