Lyn writes about Southwest Airlines on GotoTravelGal.com and I’ve asked her to share with you some tips for maximizing your companion when you earn the Southwest Companion Pass. Emily and I believe the Southwest Companion Pass is the best deal in travel!
Lyn: I am now on my 2nd Southwest Companion Pass, an amazing deal that gets you Big Travel With Small Money by allowing 1 person (your “companion”) to fly nearly free with you for from the time you earn it until the END of the FOLLOWING year.
The Companion Pass has literally changed my life from traveling on 1 or 2 car trips a year to taking more than 6 trips yearly for my family of 4. To earn the Companion Pass, you’ll need to collect 110,000 qualifying Southwest points within 1 calendar year.
Did you know your companion does NOT have the be the same person throughout the life of your Companion Pass?
I’ll explain how often you can switch companions and show you how to get the most out of your Southwest Companion Pass.
How to Select Your Companion
If you have successfully earned 110,000 qualifying Southwest points (which I show you how to easily do in my free guide “The Step-by-Step Guide to Earning the Southwest Companion Pass”), you will receive an email from Southwest congratulating you on reaching Southwest Companion Pass status. While you will also later receive the actual pass in the mail, in the meantime, you can go ahead and choose your companion.
Southwest allows you to change companions up to 3 TIMES per calendar year, AFTER you initially choose your companion. That means you can have 4 different companions the 1st calendar year, then 3 in the 2nd year – or 7 total across the life of the pass. Start with the person who will be flying with you first.
Step 1. Log Into Your Southwest Account to Choose Your Companion
To choose your companion, you will need to log into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account, the airline’s loyalty program, at Southwest.com. From there, click on “My Account” at top right. You should see a couple of colored dials and the message, “Congrats! You’ve Earned Companion Pass!” Below, you will see “Choose Your Companion” and in blue “Enter Your Companion Info.”
There, you can enter your companion’s information, including name, birthdate, phone number and more. Once you choose your companion, Southwest will mail you a Companion Pass card, much like a plastic credit card, with your companion’s name on the card. Be sure to carry this with you when traveling with your companion, as Southwest employees may ask to see it.
Step 2. Add Your Companion to a Flight
Now that you’ve selected your companion, you can book your flight. Keep in mind that your companion can FLY FREE with you on any flight whether you booked it with points or money. Either way, no points need to be redeemed or money spent for their ticket aside from the mandatory government security fee of $5.60 per person each way (for domestic flights).
You will first need to book your flight. And then you will add your companion to your ticket. When booking online, it can take 24 hours before you can go in and add your companion.
To add the companion to your ticket, you will again log into your account on Southwest.com and click on “My Account.“
Then you will need to scroll down to “My Trips” on the left-hand side, find your trip and select “Add Companion“ in blue below the trip.
From there, you will need to pay the $5.60 per way fee for the companion after which you will receive a separate confirmation number for their ticket. This means they will need to check in separately from you prior to boarding.
How to Change Your Southwest Companion
If you want to change companions during the year, say to take a trip with your mom after you and your significant other enjoy a vacation, you can do this up to 3 TIMES, so plan wisely.
You cannot make this switch online, however. You have to call Southwest directly at 800-435-9792. But it is a very simple process once you get them on the line.
Keep in mind that you can NOT book a NEW FLIGHT with a different companion before completing all PREVIOUS FLIGHTS with your current companion. That means that if you have a trip scheduled to Denver with your partner in April but want to fly to Hawaii with your mom in May, you cannot add your mom as your companion for the May trip until your April trip is completed.
This seems problematic, as you might think you can’t book the trip at all until all travel with your current companion is completed. But, all it really means is that you can’t ADD YOUR COMPANION to the flight until all previous companion travel is completed. You CAN STILL BOOK THE FLIGHT for yourself and then add your companion as soon as the previous trip is finished!
This is usually no problem, so long as there are seats on the flights. We have never had an issue. However, I read a forum post recently where an individual forgot to add their companion to their ticket until a few days before. The flight was sold out and they were unable to add them.
Remember, if you book your flight with points, you can always cancel the trip and have all points refunded to your account. So if for some reason you can’t add your companion once all previous travel is complete, cancel and rebook a different flight with more seats.
Changing your companion is as easy as making a phone call to Southwest at 800-435-9792. But remember you can’t change companions until all travel with your past companion is finished.
By adding the new companion as soon as all past travel is complete, it should be smooth sailing to change companions up to 3 times in a year after you add your first one!