Jet-Setting with Jenn: Breaking down Southwest Airlines Companion Pass

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 11:45 AM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In today’s Jet-Setting with Jenn, we’re talking about Southwest Airlines’ Companion Pass.

First, let’s start off by talking about what it is. The companion pass is something you have to qualify for, but once you get it - the benefits are great! The pass is a benefit that allows one person to fly with you for free, every time you fly. In essence, you’re getting a buy one get one, with every flight purchase. Do note, however, you still have to pay taxes and fees, but those are only about $6 per flight.

So I’m sure this sounds great - but you may be thinking, southwest does not fly from Mobile. No, they don’t, but they do fly pretty close. Southwest operates from Pensacola, Destin, Panama city beach, New Orleans, and Birmingham.

But also focusing more on Southwest - how are they different from other airlines? They offer many perks, at no additional costs - such as free flight changes and cancellations, 2 free checked bags, and no assigned seats.

But, getting back to the companion pass. The big question - how do you qualify? First, you have to create a free Southwest account. This is how you accumulate points each time you fly. Next, you have 2 options. You can either fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 135,000 qualifying points - all within one calendar year. But here’s the good news, say you qualify in September of 2023. The pass would be good for the rest of this year, plus all of next year until December 31st of 2024. So, it could be good for longer than one year if you qualify early.

However, what I have found, is that the best way to qualify is to apply for one of Southwest’s credit cards. Their most basic card begins with an annual fee of $69. Most have varying points bonuses based on purchases, but the basic card, the southwest plus, has decent benefits. From what I found, you would have to spend about 7 thousand in basic purchases for the first year, and then 10 thousand in the years after that, to keep the companion pass. However, there are certain purchases, such as ridesharing, hotels, internet, and streaming services, that will allow you to spend less and get double or triple the points.

So, there are a few hoops to jump through to get there. But is it worth it? If you travel a lot, specifically on Southwest, then yes! If you plan on traveling to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Hawaii next year, then this could also be a good option to pay for potentially cheaper airfare. Or if you are retired, a college student, a teacher with a free summer, part-time, or work from home, this could benefit you and a friend/partner.

Other things to note, however. Southwest has been offering companion passes throughout the year but with a lot of restrictions and blackouts. But most importantly, know yourself and your spending habits, before committing to a card solely for the potential benefits.