Earning the Southwest Companion Pass can unlock thousands of dollars in free travel each year. This unique airline perk allows your designated companion to travel with you an unlimited number of times every year on any Southwest flight. Here’s what you need to know about the Companion Pass, including how it works, how it’s earned and which activities qualify.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most unique and lucrative benefits of any airline loyalty program. Once you’ve earned it, your designated companion can travel with you for free on any Southwest flight an unlimited number of times. Whether you paid for your ticket with cash, points, travel credits or other methods, your companion can fly with you for just the price of taxes as long as there’s an available seat for sale on that flight.
How does the Companion Pass work?
Before you can use your Companion Pass, it helps to understand how it works so you can maximize the value of its benefits. Depending on how frequently you fly, this Southwest perk can be worth thousands of dollars in travel.
How long does it last?
When you earn the Companion Pass, it is good for the remainder of the current calendar year and all of the following year. If you earn the pass in September 2024, the pass will be good through December 31, 2025.
Many travelers attempt to earn their Companion Pass early in the year to extend the benefits for as long as possible. For example, they may apply for a Southwest credit card in November or December and then meet the minimum spending requirement in early January.
Using cash or points to book flights
Companion Pass benefits can be used on any eligible flight. You can add your designated companion to your flight if you’ve paid with cash, points or travel credits.
Some airline credit cards also offer a companion fare, but these tickets can only be used when you’re booking a cash fare for the primary traveler. These airlines include Alaska, American, British Airways, and Delta. When booking the companion ticket, the airline may charge taxes and fees up to $100 or more.
Booking companion tickets
To book a companion ticket fare, first book the ticket for the primary traveler. Visit your Southwest dashboard to find your flight, then click “Add Companion” and pay the required taxes for the flight. Domestic flight taxes are $5.60 each way or $11.20 for a round trip. Some international destinations charge higher taxes.
Choosing your companion
People who qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass can select anyone they want to be their designated companion. It can be your spouse, child, sibling, parent, friend, co-worker or anyone else.
To designate your companion, log into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and click “Enter Companion Info” in the Choose Your Companion section of the Snapshot tab. Alternatively, call Southwest customer service at (800) 435-9792 to provide the person’s name, date of birth, Rapid Rewards number and other relevant details.
Changing your companion
Your designated companion can be changed up to three times each year. To change your companion, call Southwest customer service.
Keep in mind that you cannot change your designated companion if you have pending Companion Pass flights with your current companion. You must take those flights first or cancel them before being able to change who your companion is.
How do you earn the Companion Pass?
There are three primary ways to earn the Companion Pass — flights, qualifying points and promotions.
- Flights. Take 100 one-way flights (50 round trips) on Southwest in a calendar year. All flights count toward this metric, whether it’s a quick flight between Los Angeles and Phoenix, a cross-country flight or traveling to one of Southwest’s international destinations.
- Qualifying points. Earn 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points in a calendar year. You’ll earn qualifying points based on fare price and class, credit card purchases (including welcome bonuses) or money spent with partners.
- Promotions. Southwest periodically offers the Companion Pass to travelers based on completing certain activities. Past offers have included credit card welcome bonuses and completing a status challenge. Typically, Companion Passes earned from promotions expire more quickly than if you earned it through flights or points.
How do you earn Companion Pass qualifying points?
Rapid Rewards members earn Companion Pass qualifying points in a variety of ways. The number of points earned typically varies based on the amount of money spent in each type of activity.
All travelers earn points when they add their Rapid Rewards member number to their reservation. The number of points varies based on the type of fare and how much it costs. Business Select fares have the highest multiplier, while Wanna Get Away tickets have the lowest. If you have A-List status, elite status bonus points do not qualify toward the Companion Pass.
Partner hotels and rental cars
Partner reservations completed by December 31st of each year count toward the Companion Pass. You must include your Rapid Rewards member number on your reservation to earn points. For hotels, earning Rapid Rewards points may mean forgoing hotel rewards points, so be sure to compare the two before selecting to earn Rapid Rewards.
Southwest credit cards earn Companion Pass qualifying points in three primary ways. Welcome bonuses for new customers are a quick way to earn a large number of points. Points earned from category bonuses and everyday spending also count towards the Companion Pass. When you renew your card, the anniversary bonus points also qualify.
Southwest currently has three personal cards and two business cards that earn towards the Companion Pass:
To learn more about these cards check out our detailed reviews of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card.
While you can transfer points to Southwest from credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy points, these transfers do not count. The transferred points can be used to book flights but do not qualify you for the Companion Pass.
Rapid Rewards shopping portal
Shopping online is quick and convenient for today’s busy travelers. Use the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal to earn additional points on top of the rewards from your credit card. These points are Companion Pass-qualifying.
Other partner activity
Southwest provides an extensive list of additional activities that qualify for the Companion Pass. Qualifying activities include wine purchases, utility bill payments and more.
What activity doesn’t qualify for the Companion Pass?
While there are many ways to earn Companion Pass qualifying points, other ways to earn Rapid Rewards points won’t get you any closer to the 135,000 points needed. Here are a few of the ways that do not count toward the qualifying points total.
- Transfers from other loyalty programs.
- Purchasing points
- Points received as a gift
- Reward travel
- A-List bonus points
- Flight bonus points
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in travel, as long as you use it. Like any other benefit, it has no value sitting unused in your account. If you make the effort to earn the Pass, be sure to get to the skies with a companion as often as you can.
Frequently asked questions
Do credit card welcome bonus points count toward the Companion Pass?
Yes, points earned from a Southwest credit card count toward earning the Companion Pass. This includes the welcome bonus, all points earned on purchases and the anniversary bonus. Plus, Southwest cardholders receive a boost of 10,000 qualifying points, which reduces the overall number of points you need to earn.
How many times can the Companion Pass be used?
Unlike companion fares from other airlines, which can only be used once, the Southwest Companion Pass can be used an unlimited number of times. Your designated companion can accompany you on any domestic or international Southwest flight with available seats.
Is the Southwest Companion Pass good for two years?
The Companion Pass is good for the remainder of the year in which it is earned and all of the following year. If you earn the Companion Pass early in the year, you can get almost two years of travel from it. For example, if you earn the pass on February 3, 2024, it is good through December 31, 2025.