Southwest has now opened their schedule through October 30, 2015, (instead of through the beginning of August). So if you’re planning a late summer or fall trip, you can book both paid and award tickets now!
Usually, airlines open their schedule ~11 to 12 months in advance, but Southwest only opens their schedule ~6 to 8 months in advance.
Southwest Companion Pass
If you have the Southwest Companion Pass, your companion can fly with you for almost free, on BOTH paid and award tickets!
And if you don’t currently have a Companion Pass, you can book a seat for yourself, and add your companion later.
You get the Companion Pass after earning 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points in a calendar year. Here’s a post with all you need to know about the Southwest Companion Pass!
Ways to Earn Southwest Points
1. Paid Flights on Southwest
You’ll earn points when you fly Southwest on paid (NOT award) flights. Southwest calculates points on the base fare and excise taxes, but NOT the government taxes and fees.
- Business Select Fares: 12 points per $1 you spend
- Anytime Fares: 10 points per $1 you spend
- Wanna Get Away Fares: 6 points per $1 you spend
2. Southwest Credit Cards
Link: Southwest Credit Cards
I’ve written about the Chase Southwest credit cards and how you can use them to earn LOTS of Southwest points.
At different times of the year, the 3 versions of the Southwest card will sometimes offer 50,000 points after meeting the minimum spending.
You can earn 1 point per $1 you spend on regular purchases, and 2 points per $1 you spend on Southwest and certain hotel and car rental partners.
50,000 Southwest points are worth ~$710 in Southwest flights or $500 in gift cards. There are no blackout dates when you redeem points on Southwest, so as long as there are seats available.
3. Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards
Note: Transferring points directly from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest does NOT count towards the Companion Pass.
I prefer earning Ultimate Rewards points and only transferring the points to Southwest when I need them. That’s because I can earn 2X points on all travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. And 5X points on wireless, telecom, and office supply stores with the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus.
4. Earn Bonus Points
There are lots of other ways to earn extra Southwest points, even if you don’t have a Southwest credit card. You can earn bonus points from shopping, dining, participating in partner promotions, or by transferring hotel points.
For example, you can use a new trick for getting cheap Southwest points with Choice Hotel points.
You can now book Southwest flights through October 30, 2015.
Even if you’re not 100% sure of your plans, it doesn’t hurt to book your fall travel now. That’s because if you cancel a paid Southwest flight, they will issue you a credit for the amount, good for 1 year. Or if you book Southwest flights with points, you’ll get your points refunded!