Southwest changes points expiration policy, Companion Pass qualifications and same-day standby for elites

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This morning, The Points Guy is reporting several significant changes to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program. On the downside, beginning in 2020 the Southwest Companion Pass will be getting more difficult to earn, but effective immediately Southwest has made a positive change to its points expiration policy — they won’t expire.

Southwest Airlines changes

Southwest is an easy airline to love because of its customer friendly policies, like no change or cancellation fees and its straight forward loyalty program (there’s no complicated Southwest award chart to navigate). So even though not all of these changes are good, Southwest is at least giving us a head-ups for the negative changes.

1. Companion Pass getting harder to earn

If you want to earn a Companion Pass by Dec. 31st 2019 you’ll need to fulfill one of the following requirements in the calendar year:

  • Earn 110,000 qualifying points
  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights

As of January 1, 2020, the qualifying points requirement is changing. You’ll still be able to earn a Southwest Companion Pass with 100 qualifying flights, but the number of points you need to earn in a calendar year is increasing to 125,000.

The points you earn with the Southwest credit cards will still count toward earning a Companion Pass, so this change isn’t total Armageddon. During limited-time promotions, when the Southwest card bonuses are increased, it still might be possible to earn the Companion Pass by opening one personal and one business card. The Companion Pass is still an amazing deal, but its definitely bummer that it’s getting harder to earn.

If you want to know when the Southwest credit cards will have increased offers again, just sign-up for our newsletter and we’ll let you know.

2. Points never expire

For a long time the biggest downside to amassing a huge collection of Southwest points was the expiration policy. Southwest points used to expire after 24 months of inactivity, which is a fairly standard timeframe for frequent flyer miles. What made Southwest’s expiration rules so draconian was that the expiration date wouldn’t rest if you redeemed points. This subtle distinction caused a lot of people to accidentally let their points expire.

Now the confusion is a thing of the past, effective immediately all Southwest points will never expire.

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3. Same-day standby changes

Starting on January 1, 2021, those with Southwest status (A-list or A-list Preferred) will no longer have the option to fly same-day standby for free. Instead, elite members can fly “same-day standby free of airline charges,” which means you’ll be responsible for paying any additional government taxes and fees associated with your flight.

For most Southwest flights the taxes and fees won’t be much and you’re getting plenty of advanced noticed, which is nice since many Southwest frequent flyers have already earned elite status for 2020.

Featured image courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

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