How to Fly the Entire Family for Nearly Free!

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Update:   You can NO longer add a companion to a companion reservation!

Million Mile Secrets reader Samir commented:

Let me twist this a bit.  So both my wife and I secure a Companion Pass.  I add my wife and she adds our son.  Is the family free?

Your companion flies for nearly free when you have a Southwest Companion Pass.  But what if your COMPANION also has their own Companion Pass?  

Can Samir’s wife use her Companion Pass to bring their son too?  That would be crazy!  Because the 3 of them would fly for the price of ~1 ticket!

The good news is that it IS possible!  I’ll show you how.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

A Family of 3 Can Fly on Southwest for the Price of ~1 When Both Parents Have the Companion Pass. And It Might Not Stop There!

How Does This Work?

Link:   Southwest Companion Pass

You’ll get a Companion Pass when you earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year.

And now is a good time to think about earning the Companion Pass, because all 4 versions of the Chase Southwest cards currently have a 50,000 point sign-up bonus.  Just make sure that the points from the credit card sign-up bonus post to your account in 2015 and NOT in 2014.  That way you get the Companion Pass for almost 2 years!

Suppose Mom and Dad each have a Southwest Companion Pass.

The scenario could go like this:

  • Mom adds Dad as her designated companion
  • Dad adds Child as his designated companion

Note:  You can only change your companion THREE times after you 1st earn the Companion Pass and designate your 1st companion.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

Scenario: Mom Adds Dad as Her Companion, and Dad Adds Child as His

The terms and conditions of Southwest’s frequent flyer program say:

An individual may not travel as both a Member and a Companion on the same flight, except in Customer size instances.

A Member who is a Customer of size and earns a Companion Pass can use his/her Companion declaration for an extra seat as a seat.  To declare the extra seat as the Companion, the Member must contact Customer Relations.

This could be interpreted in a couple of ways.

Southwest might be saying that you can’t add a companion to a companion ticket, but given the context, I think this rule actually refers to getting an extra seat for yourself if you have a Companion Pass.

So you can’t reserve an empty seat next to you as your companion.  And you can’t designate a carry-on item like a cello.

Note that you can get an extra seat if you’re a “customer of size”, but the ticket must be booked through Southwest’s Customer Relations department.

How to Daisy Chain Companions Step-by-Step

Step 1:  Book an Award Ticket

Let’s start by booking an award ticket for Mom using points.  For example, a round-trip ticket between Rochester and Orlando costs 14,456 points and ~$11.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

First Book the Ticket You Want

Step 2:  Add a Companion to Award Ticket

Once her itinerary is confirmed, she’ll have the option to add a companion to her ticket.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

Click “Add a Companion” to Add Dad to the Reservation

Sometimes it can take a while (~1 hour) for a companion ticket to appear in your account.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

Mom Adds Dad as Her Companion for the Same Itinerary

After the companion ticket is processed, the reservation numbers for both tickets will appear in Mom’s account.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

There’s Now a 2nd Reservation Attached to Mom’s Ticket

Step 3:   Sign-In to Companion Account and Add 2nd Companion

Next, Dad signs-in to his Southwest account and finds his reservation.  He repeats the process to add a companion, except in this case he’s adding his child.

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

Dad Adds the Child to His Reservation Through His Southwest Account

And…SUCCESS!  Dad now has another companion reservation attached to his itinerary!

How To Fly The Entire Family For Nearly Free

Dad Can Add the Child as a Companion on His Companion Ticket!

So you CAN add a companion ticket to a companion ticket!  In this case, you’ll get 3 round-trip tickets for 14,456 points and ~$33!

Because Southwest points are worth ~1.43 cents per point, 14,456 points are worth ~$207.  So you’re getting 3 round-trip tickets from snowy Rochester to sunny Orlando for a total of ~$270 (~$207 ticket value +  ~$33 in fees).

Plus, you get up to 2 pieces of free checked luggage per person (worth up to $50 each on other airlines).  This is a fantastic deal.

I haven’t gone further than this, but if the child had a Companion Pass, presumably they could add another companion to their reservation, and so on.

What a great deal for a family or a group of friends, because you only need the points (or cash) for 1 ticket to fly all 3 folks for almost free!

Bottom Line

Three folks can fly for the price of 1 on paid and award tickets if 2 of them have the Southwest Companion Pass.

One Companion Pass holder adds the other Companion Pass holder as their companion and books a paid or award ticket.  Then the 2nd Companion Pass holder adds a 3rd person as their companion.

I tried it and can confirm it works.  This is a great deal for families or groups of friends who fly together often!

If you don’t yet have a Companion Pass, this is the easiest time to get it because all 4 versions of the Chase Southwest cards currently have a 50,000 point sign-up bonus.

Thanks for the question, Samir!

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25 responses to “How to Fly the Entire Family for Nearly Free!

  1. To me, the wording from Southwest says almost the opposite of what your explanation does. That if you’re a customer of size you CAN make the extra seat you would have had to pay for otherwise into your “companion” when using the companion pass. The wording seems to specifically forbid what you’re doing, in the first quoted sentence. Possibly you’ve found a glitch in the IT, which could be permitting something the rules don’t. Or maybe you get caught. Anyway, in my opinion the companion pass is one of the best deals out there without trying to do things that aren’t intended, and I’d hate to see people do these tricks to the point that Southwest decides the whole project is not worth it to them anymore. If I’m interpreting this incorrectly, I’m sure others will correct me.

  2. I agree with DaveS’s interpretation of the guidance by Southwest. This seems to be a loophole, but not authorized per their rules. In the least, this could jeopardize the Companion Passes each person has earned. Worst case, it has a negative impact on the program as a whole. Those wanting to try this should proceed with caution, but I’d suggest not proceeding at all.

  3. Hello,

    Quick question: do you have to actually own a business to open the Southwest Business Credit Card? if i open a personal and a business to get the necessary points for the companion pass (not all of them, but most of them), can I do this without a business?

    Thanks!

  4. This sounds like a perfect way to END the companion pass program! Why abuse a good thing?

  5. “The Member’s designated Companion must be an individual. An individual may not travel as both a Member and a Companion on the same flight, except in Customer size instances.”
    Daraius, I agree with your interpretation.
    SWA wants two different seats occupied by two different individuals versus one individual claiming two different seats because he is claiming himself as his own Companion.

  6. As much as I would love for this to work, I have to agree with all of the above that this is most definitely violating the system, not gaming it. Also not worth the risk of A) shutting down my accounts or B) Shutting down the CP program altogether. I like where your head is though 🙂

  7. When I, as a newbie, got my pass last year, I had hubby as a companion. Then, later that year he got his pass and added my son. I tried to continue booking it this way (not knowing any different) and it let me….that is until the system caught up with my first reservation. It took some time for the system to know I had booked a companion on a companion and my son’s reservation disappeared. I called in and they specifically told me that the system does not allow it. They changed my companion to my daughter. I am not sure if things have changed, but I don’t think so. I think 2 for 1 is still a great bargain! 🙂

  8. I used SW credit card to travel free. I have cancelled my credit cards this month. Can I apply for new SW cards now or do I need to wait so that I can get 50K points? Someone told me that there is 1 year cool off period. Is it true?any workaround?

  9. I am going to have to agree with everyone else, this post should never have happened. This is a great way to END the companion pass all together! Not recommended.

  10. Goodbye pass. Greed always overtakes common sense. Delete this post if you actually claim to care about the people you’re blogging to.

  11. Daraius,
    I have to agree with the others commenters. I love your blog, and really value your travel wisdom and advice. But I feel like this is going too far, and unethically taking advantage of Southwest’s already generous program. I think you should take this article down, and respect Southwest’s desires for only ONE companion to fly free with each paid (whether by cash or points) ticket.

  12. Are you really going to bite that hands that feeds you? We know how SW is your beloved baby. If I was SW, I would but ties with D’s contract. IF you have any dignity and integrity, delete this post. You know this isn’t right. And if you don’t you aren’t the blogger you once were.

  13. “The Member’s designated Companion must be an individual. An individual may not travel as both a Member and a Companion on the same flight…”

    In this case, the Dad is traveling as a companion (to the mom) AND as a member since the child is supposed to be his companion. This is a glitch that should NOT be taken advantage of.

    “…, except in Customer size instances.”

    If the mom was a COS then she could designate herself as a companion instead of paying for the second seat.

  14. I dont reall any complaints when Southwest clearly stated that points from credit cards didn’t count toward the companion pass, but the system allowed it and we all were able to get companion passes before it become official.

  15. Darius has made a calculation. If he posts about all the ways people can abuse this SW companion pass program, enough people will sign up for the cards to more than compensate for the program being yanked from him. While I wish he hadn’t made this decision, he certainly had the right to do so. We readers give him his voice. If you don’t like the ethics behind his posts, don’t visit the site.

  16. So I just went to sign up for a Southwest business card and there is a sentence in the sign up I haven’t seen before, “This bonus offer is not available to either current or previous rapid reward cardmembers who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.” Is that the end of the companion pass via card signups?

  17. @ Natalie.

    Mhmmmm… this b**** is dead. All good things come to an end. It seems one has to spend $60k now (within a year).

  18. On the other hand, after re-reading, maybe it’s referring to each individual card (there are 4, 2 personal and 2 biz), so it might still work.

    “This new cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this consumer credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this consumer credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this consumer credit card within the last 24 months.”

    “This bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the past twenty four months.

  19. I don’t see why everyone is complaining about this post.
    If “spreading out” one ticket among several passengers really is that big of a deal, I think SW will simply create measures to stop a companion pass from being shared by more than one person, RATHER than just scrapping the whole program altogether. SW is too innovative (in a good way) to pull a stunt like that…its generous programs such as this is what make SW so special to passengers, and SW knows (and thrives) on this reality.

    Good Post Darius!

  20. Umm it’s pretty clear what the intent and letter of the rule is.

    Just because southwests IT sucks doesn’t mean it’s kosher

    Oh and I would hate to be the family that gets stuck buying last minute tickets if/when the iT gets updated to catch this and ur in Costa Rica or something (even crossUSA would be pricey)
    And I could see Sw confiscating the passes and points as well.

    Too risky for me

  21. Daraius: Considering the information that Erin C provides in her comment (above), why have you not pulled down this article? For reasons stated by other commenters, I believe you should not have posted it in the first place (and, no offense, I’m skeptical that you really believe your own tortured interpretation of the relevant Southwest rule), but now that you have Erin C’s report that what you say works actually does not, why would you waste the time — and potentially the money — of your readers?

  22. Just tried adding a companion to an existing companion (i.e., a third passenger) and I got an error message: “Oops! You cannot add a companion to this reservation.”

    I’m going to try waiting an hour or so, but I’m thinking it won’t make a difference and I won’t be able to daisy-chain a third passenger.

  23. If anyone’s wondering… I wasn’t able to add a companion to an existing companion. Oh, well. C’est la vie.