We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Lyn writes about how to fly nearly free on Southwest and has a free guide that walks you through how to earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass. The Southwest Companion Pass lets 1 person fly almost free with you for up to 2 years, and Emily and I believe it’s THE best deal in travel.
I’ve asked Lyn to share a few things about the pass that you might not know.
Lyn: Ah, Southwest Companion Pass, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… 🙂
I now have my 3rd Southwest Companion Pass, which I earned at the end of 2017 (you can read exactly how I earned my 2017 pass). The Southwest Companion Pass has truly changed my family’s lives by allowing us to travel all over the US for next to nothing.
Before we learned about this amazing deal, we took 1 or 2 car trips a year and that was it. Now, we travel more than 6 times every year and have taken our kids to see the Rocky Mountains, New York City, Hollywood, Disney World, Disneyland, Zion National Park, Las Vegas and the list goes on…
But, there are a few things you may not be aware of when it comes to the Southwest Companion Pass that you definitely need to know. These tend to be the fine-print details that are easy to overlook.
5 Things You Might Not Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
I’ve put together a list of items I’ve come across that people don’t realize to make sure you can make the most of this awesome perk!
1. You Need to Carry It With You
When you earn your Southwest Companion Pass, they actually mail you a physical “pass,” which is the size of a credit card and easily fits in your wallet. The pass has the name of your current companion, and if you switch companions, they send you a new card.
According to the Southwest Companion Pass rules and regulations, you should always have your pass with you when flying with your companion, because a Southwest employee could ask to see it any time. Southwest says:
The Member and the Companion must check in together and, if asked, present the Companion Pass card at the Southwest Airlines’ Ticket Counter, Skycap podium, or Departure Gate in order for the Companion to travel.
We’ve had a pass for 2 full years and so far have never had anyone ask for it, but I always carry it anyway.
It would be a HUGE bummer to be ready to board your flight and not be allowed on because you don’t have your pass!
2. Your Companion Will Need to Check-In Separately
A downside to having a companion (though, is there really a downside if they can fly free aside from taxes and fees?) is that they are not booked under your confirmation number. This creates a little extra work in that they will have to check-in separately.
Also, if you need to cancel a reservation, you will have to cancel theirs separately and re-book under your new reservation. Lastly, keep in mind your companion will have their own boarding order different than yours and based on when they check-in.
When paying with cash or points, you can book everyone else under the same confirmation number if you’re paying with points from one person’s account. For example, I usually book all of my family’s flights with points from my Southwest Rapid Rewards account.
3. You Can Have 7 Different Companions Over 2 Years
Southwest lets you change companions up to 3 times each year AFTER you’ve initially selected your companion. That means that as soon as you are awarded your pass, you can name your companion and then technically change it to 3 different people through the rest of that year and another 3 people the following year.
Though most of us will not likely bring 7 different people with us over 2 years, it’s technically possible, and, in fact, that would be a super creative way to use your Southwest Companion Pass!
4. You Can’t Book a Flight With a NEW Companion Until You’ve Completed All Flights With Your CURRENT Companion
While, yes, you CAN bring 7 different people, Southwest throws a wrench into the equation. You can’t book a flight with a NEW companion until you’ve completed all flights with your CURRENT companion.
But, there’s a way around it.
You can add a companion to your ticket AT ANY TIME so long as there is a seat. So, go ahead and book YOUR ticket for any future flights with a new companion and then add them AFTER any flights with your past companion are complete.
If for some reason there aren’t any more seats for that flight (I’ve never had that happen!), you can simply change to a new flight for no change fee and add your companion.
5. Soon, Your Companion May Be Able to Board With You!
Did you know Southwest ran trials last fall in Dallas and Denver where they allowed a person’s companion to board with them? That means they held the same boarding order as the pass holder.
I had several readers who got to try it and heard from the gate agents that all seemed to go smoothly and that Southwest was definitely considering making this a permanent change.
This would be awesome, as you could pay for Early Bird, which lets you check-in ahead of everyone else for a $15 fee per way, and your companion could enjoy the benefits as well!
Did you get to try this out when they were testing it?
The Southwest Companion Pass is an awesome perk from Southwest, but there are a few quirks and small details you need to know to make sure you fully take advantage of it and don’t mess up anything in the process.
- Always carry your pass with you
- Your companion will have a separate confirmation number
- You can change your companion up to 7 times
- Add a new companion to a flight after all flights with a past companion are completed
- Encourage Southwest to make the permanent change that allows companions to board with you
Have any additional Companion Pass tips and tricks? Please share in the comments!