How to Get Free Flights With Southwest Airlines

by Lyle Daly | Updated Sept. 2, 2021 - First published on Aug. 1, 2021

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A woman standing on the sunny tarmac and waiting to board a plane.

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There are plenty of ways to fly with Southwest free of charge.

Southwest Airlines is one of the best airlines for budget-minded travelers. Your first two checked bags are free, there are no change fees, and ticket prices are affordable. To top it off, the airline consistently does well in terms of customer satisfaction rankings.

Even though Southwest offers low airfare prices, it's always nice when you can fly without paying for a ticket. Here's how to do that with Southwest Airlines.

Sign up for Rapid Rewards

The first step to getting free flights with any airline is to register for its frequent flyer program. In Southwest's case, the Rapid Rewards program is how you can earn points that you redeem for flights.

To sign up, visit the Rapid Rewards page on Southwest's website. Click "Sign Me Up" and fill out the form to create your account. You'll receive an account number to enter whenever you book travel with Southwest so that you earn points.

Earn points with Southwest's partners

Flights are just one of many ways to earn points with Southwest. The airline also has many partnerships with travel providers, online merchants, restaurants, and other businesses. Here are a few of the things you can do to collect more Rapid Rewards points:

  • Go to Rapid Rewards Dining and link a credit or debit card. When you pay with that card at eligible restaurants, bars, and clubs, you'll earn points.
  • Visit Rapid Rewards Shopping and check out the merchants that are available. This shopping portal includes over 850 stores where you can shop and earn Rapid Rewards points on your purchases.
  • Book travel through the Rapid Rewards site with Southwest's travel partners. You can earn points when booking hotels, rental cars, ground transportation, and special experiences.

Apply for a Southwest credit card

If you want to earn Southwest points on your purchases, check out its airline credit cards. There are a few different Southwest cards available, and each one earns points on purchases you make.

In addition to earning points on your purchases, Southwest credit cards typically offer sign-up bonuses. A sign-up bonus is an incentive for new cardholders. The most common type of bonus offer is a large amount of points that you receive after reaching a spending requirement, such as $2,000 in the first three months.

By collecting a sign-up bonus and purchase rewards, you can significantly boost your balance of Southwest points.

Get a Companion Pass

One of the best benefits Southwest offers is its Companion Pass. After you've earned a Companion Pass, you can choose someone to fly with you every time you book a flight, whether you pay in cash or points. It lasts for the rest of the year you've earned it and the full following calendar year.

There are two ways to earn a Southwest Companion Pass in 2021:

  • Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights.
  • Earn 125,000 qualifying points. Qualifying points include those earned on revenue flights with Southwest, using Southwest credit cards, and base points earned through purchases with Southwest's partners.

What's great about the Companion Pass is that it works even if you're booking a flight in points. You could use your Southwest points for a free flight, and then use the Companion Pass for someone else so the two of you could both fly for free. This is an especially smart way for couples to save on travel.

Use your points for free flights with Southwest

When you have enough Rapid Rewards points, getting free flights with Southwest is a straightforward process. On its website's flight search tool, switch the payment method from "Dollars" to "Points." Search for the airfare you want, and prices will be displayed in points.

After you've chosen your fares, you'll need to log in to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account to complete the checkout process.

With Southwest, the price of a ticket in points is based on its price in cash. That means you get a reasonable value per point no matter what you book. And if you find a low fare in cash, it will still be a great deal if you pay in points.

Free flights with Southwest aren't hard to come by once you understand its Rapid Rewards program. There are a variety of ways to earn points, including flying Southwest, making purchases through its partners, and using any of its credit cards.

Southwest lets you use points to book any available seat, as there are no blackout dates or flights. Last but not least, you can earn a Companion Pass to take someone with you free of charge.

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