It’s been 1 year since we got the Southwest Companion Pass, and most of our points are gone. So in honor of the 50,000 point card being back, and using up over 100,000 Southwest points in the last year, I figured I’d talk about what we did with the Soutwest Companion Pass.
I should mention that timing the Southwest Companion Pass could be important. If you can get it at the beginning of a year, you can get it for a near full two years.
In order to get the Companion Pass, you have to “earn” 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year. It’s totally easy if you get both the personal and business credit card when the bonus is at 50,000 points. You’re usually at 106,000 after the spend requirement, and doing $4,000 more on the card in a year isn’t that hard.
Once you do that, every flight you book (in cash or points) can have a companion added for free (well, taxes are $5.60 domestically). It is amazing. Basically all your Southwest flights are 2-for-1 for as much as two years – and Southwest flights are already pretty cheap.
However, we didn’t worry about “timing” it perfectly because we weren’t in the US much in the first half of 2014 and getting it in the second half of the year was the same as getting it the first half.
Plus, it only lasted us a year anyways. That might be short or long depending on your style. We fly a lot more than most people. However, we were able to keep our average flight cost around 6,500 points. How long it will last you is a total YMMV, but you can always go in your history and see what your average flight cost is.
Total points before flying = 110,606
Funny that our points posted on Sep 27, because the first flight was Sep 30.
But truth be told, I always book the companion ticket relatively last minute. Our plans change so much, that it’s easier for me to book that ticket later and not have to change two tickets when I do change the original one.
After all, the first ticket is the only price that matters. The Companion Ticket is just the same – not changing – taxes.
Here’s how we used the points:
Remember, all this travel is for two people!
Costs in points:
- LAS – DEN = 6,902
- DEN – HOU = 4,493
- LIT – MDW = 6,446
- MDW – ATL = 8,075
- ATL – CUN = 5,530
- CUN – MCO = 7,000
- TPA – MSY = 6,772
- MSY – LGA = 5,665
- CAK – DCA = 4,428
- IAD – MBJ = 10,080
- MBJ – MSY = 12,740
- MSY – DAL = 1,623
- DAL – DCA = 2,598
- DCA – ATL = 7,156
- ATL – PIT = 7,091
- MDW – DCA = 4,877
16 flights over all, and neither the list nor the map includes connections. So our routing isn’t shown, but instead where we were actually going.
As you can see, we’re east coast people. Last time we had the Companion Pass, Dallas was the furthest west we actually went. I grew up in Virginia, Caroline in Ohio. All Caroline’s family is in Ohio, now mine are spread across the deep south.
Pictures from our Southwest Companion Pass travels
MBJ Jamaica (Hyatt)
Carrie’s family lives in Amish country
But Wait, There’s More
Then the annual bonuses kicked in.
While I don’t think the cards are worth keeping really, the annual bonus is a nice extra little bit. But I forget to mention that the annual fee is not waived the first year. This means we ended up paying $168 total in annual fees ($99 + $69).
- Total earned from credit cards = 119,606
- Total spent = 101,576
- 16 flights
- Average flight = 6348.5
- Still remaining = 18,030
In theory, 18,030 points is nearly 3 more flights based on my average. However, I actually have a few thousand more left, just because we had some left over from a little while ago.
Normally I don’t like cards that don’t waive the annual fee the first year (since there are so many other options that do), but $168 was totally worth the 119,606 points. This really is a fantastic value.
Again, this is all for two people!
How much would 16 flights normally cost two people?
Let’s see. We did 4 oneway flights to the Caribbean/Mexico and 12 domestic flights.
With United, AA or similar that would cost the following:
- 12 domestic oneways x 12,500 x 2 people = 300,000 miles
- 4 Caribbean/Mexico oneways x 17,500 x 2 people = 140,000 miles
Total cost in AA/UA miles would be 440,000 miles for 2 people
vs 101,576 Southwest points
That’s an incredible amount of value in 2 cards.
British Airways is a better mileage program for domestic and Caribbean flights, so I’ll compare what I would have done with Avios.
Same flights for 2 using BA Avios would be 260,000 Avios
vs 101,576 Southwest points
BA Avios is way better than the other programs and still more than twice as much as Southwest.
For a single person, it’s really comparable. But for two people, that is a lot of miles.
And remember, we have 18,000+ points left over. It’s just incredible.
The thing that hit me in regards to us getting the equivalent of 130,000 Avios per person, is just how little travel 130,000 Avios would get me elsewhere. A roundtrip to Europe could easily be 60,000+ Avios, or way more to Asia. It really gets us two international trips.
For 101,576 we went to Mexico, Jamaica and traveled around and saw our family all over the US. It really is a lot of travel.
Or you could think about it the other way, which is that it would have been 440,000 miles worth of travel with most of the big airline programs. That’s awesome.
Either way it’s awesome. The amount of travel, or the amount of value… it’s a fantastic deal.
Now, if you live close to all your family, maybe it’s not that big of a deal. Or maybe if you’re more interested in one big trip over lots of little domestic trips, maybe it’s not the right deal for you.
For example, Jamaica, Mexico, and Las Vegas are not that farflung. They are a little different, especially depending on where you go in Mexico, but it’s nothing compared to Indonesia, Vietnam, Kenya, etc…
There are so many places in the world that blow my mind when I’m there, and nowhere that Southwest goes is really on that list. And I don’t think they’ll open a non-stop to Fiji anytime soon.
Clearly it depends on your travel goals. Exotic and far away, or lots of domestic and small flights?
That being said, almost everyone who has the Companion Pass raves about it. It’s easy to use and completely hassle free.
And when I say hassle free, I mean it. If I want to change a flight or cancel it, I go online and click one button. Changes are completely free and instant. No “close-in” fees or bag fees. It’s a no-nonsense airline.
Southwest’s ease of using miles combined with the Companion Pass is nothing short of amazing. 16 flights and 18,000+ points left.