Southwest (LUV -0.56%) has extended benefits earned by frequent flyers. That's an important move to keep the airline's most loyal customers happy so they come back to fly with the company once stay-at-home orders are removed.

The airline has made moves that impact its A-List and A-List Preferred members as well as anyone enrolled in its Rapid Rewards loyalty program. It currently takes 25 one-way flights or 35,000 points to earn A-List status which offers earlier check-in and same-day standby to Rapid Rewards members who reach that status.

A Southwest plane takes off.

Southwest has extended benefits to its A-List members. Image source: Southwest.

What is Southwest doing?

The company has extended A-List and A-List preferred benefits through December 31, 2021. It takes 50 qualifying one-way flights, or 70,000 points, to hit A-List Preferred, which comes with added perks like free on-board WiFi.

Southwest's top-tier, Companion Pass, requires 100 qualifying one-way flights, or 125,000 points. People who earn that status can designate one person to fly with them for free. Companion Pass benefits have been extended through June 30, 2021.

The airline has also extended some benefits to all of its Rapid Rewards members:

For all Rapid Rewards Members, we recognize that your normal flying behavior has been interrupted, limiting progress you may have been making toward qualification for A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass. For that reason, we are giving all Rapid Rewards Members a "boost" of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status.

Southwest has also extended the period where people can use funds from cancelled flights.

  • Previously, Customers' travel funds that have expired or would have expired between March 1-June 30, 2020, or travel funds that were created because of a cancellation between March 1-June 30, 2020, had an expiration date of June 30, 2021. We are now expanding the window of funds eligible for extended expiration dates and extending the expiration date of these funds. Funds that are set to expire or funds that are created between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will have an expiration date of September 7, 2022.

These changes acknowledge that people simply can't fly during the current period of stay-at-home orders. Extending these dates allows customers to fly once those orders have been lifted.

Taking care of your best customers

Customers who take 25, 50, or even 100 flights a year are valuable to Southwest or any airline. These moves reward people who have been loyal while taking away pressure to fly before it's safe or before people really need to in order to maintain status.