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Million Mile Secrets’ reader Taylor commented:
If your Companion Pass expires the end of this year, can you get around this by booking for next year right now with the Companion Pass?
Because Southwest recently opened their schedule to include flights up until January 4, 2015, Taylor wants to know if he can use his Companion Pass for travel after it expires on December 31, 2014.
When Does a Companion Pass Expire?
Once you’ve earned the Southwest Companion Pass (by earning 110,000 Southwest points within a calendar year), the pass is valid until the end of the following calendar year.
So if you earned your Companion Pass today, it would be valid until December 31, 2015. I’ve written about how to time your credit card sign-ups so that you earn the Companion Pass as close to the beginning of the year as possible. That way, you can use it for almost 2 full years.
But even if you get the Companion Pass now, you have ~1.5 years of flying, which is still quite good!
You can earn the Companion Pass by:
- Signing-up for 2 Chase Southwest credit cards with 50,000 point sign-up bonuses (total 100,000 points)
- Completing the minimum spending (at least 4,000 points)
- Earning another 6,000 points through spending or promotions like buying flowers
Your Companion Pass MUST Be Valid on Your Dates of Travel!
Southwest will NOT allow you to make a Companion Pass booking after it expires. According to the terms and conditions of their frequent flyer program:
The Member will maintain Companion Pass status for the remainder of the calendar year in which the status was earned and for the entire calendar year immediately following.
And if you try to make a Companion Pass booking while the pass is still valid, but for travel after the expiration date, Southwest will NOT let you make the booking!
The Companion Pass beginning validity date and/or expiration date cannot be adjusted.
So Taylor can only use the Companion Pass until the last day of this year. But he could try to re-qualify for the Companion Pass in 2015 by signing-up for 2 more Chase Southwest cards! Or have his partner apply for the cars.
Testing It Out
I ran an experiment to see if Southwest would enforce this rule. So I made a (refundable) points booking to Dallas on January 2, 2015. My Companion Pass expires on December 31, 2014. But there was still an option to add a companion!
But when I got to the final screen, I got an error message. Southwest would NOT let me add a companion after the pass expiration date!
I made another companion booking for before December 31, 2014 and I could add a companion. So the “error” message above was likely intentional!
If your Southwest Companion Pass expires at the end of this year, you can NOT use it for travel after the expiration date. Even if you book the travel now!
Taylor’s best bet is to re-qualify for the Companion Pass as early as possible in 2015, and to use it for travel through 2015 and 2016.