The blog world is like a big game of telephone.
I read the rules from someone, who got it from someone else, who got it… Well, you get the point.
I constantly read bad information about the Southwest Companion Pass, and it’s in the details. Today, I want to discuss one detail which is almost always a case of repeating bad information.
What’s commonly told is that you can get a companion pass for two years… which is true. Then it’s said that you can change the companion three times… which isn’t quite true.
The truth is that you can change your companion up to three times per calendar year.
Worse, I first understood this (before reading the T&C myself) to be that you could have 3 people. But now reading “change his/her designated Companion… up to three (3) times each calendar year”, it’s clear that the act of changing the companion is limited to 3 times.
Let’s discuss the details in how this would work. But first, if you aren’t familiar with Southwest, take a second to read up on one of the best credit card benefits ever. You can get 110,000 Southwest points, and a person can fly with you for free, even when redeeming points. Check out:
- Maximizing the Southwest Companion Pass
- Timing the Southwest Companion Pass like a pro
- How long did the Southwest Companion Pass last us?
Changing Three Times
Changing three times means that you can have 4 different people.
Or it could mean that you have the same person twice. You could do a trip with your brother, then change it to your sister… then change it back to your brother. That would be two changes. Changing back still counts as a change.
Changes do not roll over. If you didn’t change your companion at all in 2016, you still “only” get 3 changes in 2016.
Because of this I recommend changing your companion before the new year. If you know you’re going to be flying next with someone who isn’t currently your companion and the end of the year is approaching, go ahead and change Dec 31.
You fly with the person who is currently your companion.
The person not only has to be your designated companion at the time of booking their ticket, but at the time of flying.
However, in general, you don’t have to worry about it because as long as there is a seat on the plane, you can get them a ticket. Let me explain.
Let’s say I want to fly with my brother as my companion in January, my sister in February, and my mom in March.
I’d book all three of my flights and wait to add them as a companion.
Even though I’d have different companions, I can worry about that later.
For example, I can add my brother as my companion now, and after our flight, change my companion to my sister and add her as a companion on a ticket. After the flight with my sister, same /same – I can then change my companion and book the next companion ticket.
Don’t worry, you can book the cheapest flights for yourself. And remember the points flights are fully refundable, you might as well book it for yourself. (With paid flights, refunds are issued as SouthWest credit.)
What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter if you book your flight at $100 and by the time you go to add the next person’s ticket the price goes up to $600. Doesn’t matter. As long as they are your companion and there is a seat available for the same flight you are on (regardless of price or price category), adding a companion will only cost the price of the taxes (which is ~$5.60 for domestic flights).
The only thing you would have to be worried about is the flight selling out, and personally I wouldn’t worry unless it’s a really tight change or a busy travel holiday. Even then I wouldn’t worry.
Ask my wife. I’ve added myself as the companion the day of the flight multiple times. Literally we arrived at the airport three times without myself having a ticket.
Seriously. Three times my wife had a ticket and myself (her companion) arrived an hour before the flight without a ticket. Now, that’s not advice! That was just laziness and being disorganized. If those flights were sold out I woulda been in big trouble.
However, one time I remembered two days before travel during a holiday and the first flight was fully booked when I remembered to check. We checked back obsessively and one seat opened up at an absurd price and I was able to book myself as a companion. Worked out.
Those are the time frames that are risky, and again, holidays. But the big risk is when the window is close enough that changing your ticket would be expensive.
See, Southwest usually raises their prices two or more weeks out. If you check before the price jacking, you could always change your flight for free. Remember changing a Southwest ticket is free, you just pay the difference in price. (Also, if the price goes down, you can change it and get a refund).
Thus, if your particular flight really is sold out by the time you go to add the companion, hopefully you can change to a different flight. Otherwise you do like us and check back and hope.
The actual terms and conditions:
The Member may, however, change his/her designated Companion and request issuance of a new Companion Pass card up to three (3) times each calendar year that the Member maintains Companion Pass status. Any reservation with the current Companion Pass would need to be cancelled before changing his/her designated Companion. Requests may be made by calling 1-800-435-9792. Allow 21 business days for processing and issuance of the Companion Pass card.
Well, here we have the details I’ve been referring to for three changes per calendar year, plus the phone number to do so.
Then it says allow 21 business days. In my limited experience, this isn’t true. You should perhaps allow 21 business days to get your new card, but the card doesn’t matter at all. You can do it all online. I believe my father-in-law booked a flight with a companion a few days after changing it.
Hopefully this is all you need to know about changing the companion ticket.
- You can change three times per calendar year
- You have to fly with your current companion
- But you can book yourself now, then add a companion closer to the date of travel (as long as there is a seat)