Southwest Announces Companion Pass Requirement Changes for 2023

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  • Southwest's Companion Pass makes flying with a companion more affordable -- allowing the other person to fly for free, minus taxes and fees.
  • The airline is increasing the qualifying points requirements to earn this valuable pass.

Beginning in 2023, you'll need more qualifying points to earn Southwest's Companion Pass.

Southwest Airlines has many fans -- and for good reasons. Every passenger can bring two free checked bags and take advantage of no change fees and no cancellation fees. But that's not the only reason Southwest gets a lot of love.

Southwest Rapid Rewards members can earn a Companion Pass to make traveling with a companion more affordable. The airline recently announced upcoming changes to the program. Here's what you need to know if you're hoping to earn one of these passes.

A Companion Pass can make travel cheaper for couples

If you frequently travel with a companion, you know how quickly trip costs can add up.

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Airline tickets can eat up a large portion of your vacation budget. But many Southwest loyalists take advantage of the airline's Companion Pass to reduce travel costs.

How does this pass work? Once earned, a designated companion can fly with you for free, excluding taxes and fees, every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight.

You can use the Companion Pass for the remainder of the year in which it was earned and the following full calendar year.

You can designate one companion at a time but are allowed to change your companion up to three times per calendar year. This kind of pass could save you a lot of money if you fly frequently.

You'll need more qualifying points to earn a pass

Now through Dec. 31, 2022, you can earn a Companion Pass after taking 100 qualifying one-way flights or by earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

However, the requirements will change as of Jan. 1, 2023. At that time, you'll earn a pass after taking 100 qualifying one-way flights or by earning 135,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. That means you'll need an extra 10,000 points.

This news is worth knowing if you're close to earning a Companion Pass or have plans to earn one next year.

Southwest cardholders will get a yearly points boost

There's some good news that comes with this change.

Southwest announced that Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cardholders will get a points boost. Beginning in Jan. 2023, cardholders will get 10,000 bonus qualifying points at the start of each calendar year. That means Southwest cardholders will have a bit of an advantage as they work towards earning a pass.

How to earn qualifying points to score a Companion Pass

If you're new to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program and want to earn a Companion Pass, you may be wondering how to earn qualifying points. Here are the three ways to do so:

  1. Fly with Southwest Airlines. You'll earn qualifying points when you fly with Southwest. It's worth noting that award flights booked using points aren't eligible to earn points.
  2. Get a Southwest credit card. Southwest credit cardholders can earn qualifying points by using their credit cards. This includes bonus points achieved by meeting minimum spend requirements when getting a new Southwest credit card.
  3. Earn points through Southwest's travel partners. Another way to earn qualifying points is through Southwest's travel partners. When you book a hotel or rental car through a partner, the base points earned count as qualifying points.

Now you know what steps to take to earn Southwest's Companion Pass.

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