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The details on what these changes would entail were sketchy at best. But now we have a better idea how they will price award tickets.
Find out what you can expect!
How Much Will Southwest Award Flights Cost Now?
Instead of the previous fixed price of 70 Southwest points per $1, you can now expect to pay anywhere from 70 to 80 points per $1 for your flights on Southwest.
It looks like award flights booked closer to your travel dates, to popular destinations, or during busy travel times (such as around the holidays) will cost you more Southwest points.
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.
If you want to take your mom to Cancun for Mother’s Day weekend, a 1-way flight from Denver will cost 27,920 Southwest points.
To find how many points you’re paying per dollar, take the number points you’ll pay and divide it by the base fare (which doesn’t include the taxes and fees). You can find the base fare by clicking “Fare Breakdown.”
That’s rate of 80 Southwest points per $1 (27,920 Southwest points / $349 base fare)!
And a 1-way flight from Chicago to Los Angeles on May 1, 2015, could cost you 21,470 Southwest points.
The base fare for this flight is ~$275.
That’s a cost of ~78 Southwest points per $1 (21,470 Southwest points / ~$275 base fare).
That said, many of the flights I searched cost the same rate as they did before, 70 points per $1. So folks will have to pay more points for some flights while the cost of other flights will stay the same.
So What Does This Mean for You?
Let’s say a couple with the Southwest Companion Pass books 3 round-trip flights together each year at an average of $300 per flight. With the Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can fly with you for nearly free for up to 2 years!
Previously, the flights in our example could cost 63,000 Southwest points ($900 cost of 3 flights x 70 points per $1). Now let’s say they book at a new rate of 78 points per $1. Their 3 flights would cost them 70,200 Southwest points ($900 cost of 3 flights x 78 points per $1).
That means they would have to pay 7,200 more Southwest points per year or a ~10% increase.
If you flew United Airlines, it would cost 25,000 miles for a round-trip flight within the continental US. So those 3 flights for 2 people would cost you 150,000 United Airlines miles (25,000 miles x 6 round-trip tickets).
Plus, on Southwest you can book an award flight anytime there are paid seats available and you get 2 free checked bags.
So 70,200 Southwest points for 2 people to take 3 round-trip flights together in a year is still a great deal!
Especially considering there are lots of easy ways to earn Southwest points!
Ways to Earn More Southwest Points
You can currently earn 50,000 Southwest points when you spend $2,000 within the 1st 3 months of opening the Southwest Premier Personal or Business card. And these points count towards the Southwest Companion Pass!
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest. These points do NOT count towards the Southwest Companion Pass. But they are still good for booking (almost) free flights!
Remember, you can earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores with the Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), Chase Ink Cash, and Chase Ink Plus.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on dining. Register this card for the Southwest dining program and you can earn another 3 Southwest points per $1 you spend at participating restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
Southwest has changed their award pricing. Southwest previously charged a fixed rate of 70 points per $1. Now some award flights to popular destinations during busy travel times could cost up to 80 Southwest points per $1.
But many flights have NOT changed their price!
The bad news is you’ll pay more points for certain popular flights. But the good news is, Southwest award flights are still a great deal compared to many other airlines.
That’s because you’ll pay fewer points than with other airlines, you get 2 checked bags for free, and you can earn the best deal in domestic travel — the Southwest Companion Pass!
While I don’t like to see the cost of Southwest award flights go up, you can still get terrific deals!