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Southwest Just Raised the Bar for Companion Fare AGAIN — But It Probably Won’t Affect Most of Us

First of all, Southwest just announced that you’ll have to earn 135,000 miles in 2023 to get a Companion Pass, up from the current 125,000 miles. But that won’t affect me, and I bet it won’t affect you either. I’ll get to why by the end of this post.

But first, an anecdote

Just this morning, my husband woke me up at 6 a.m. for help getting his companion (our daughter) checked in for a flight they’re taking tomorrow. Under the new rules Southwest just announced, I don’t think he’ll need to worry about that for 2023 flights.

That’s because of another one of the changes Southwest announced today: Your Companion can board the dang plane with you, no matter what their boarding group is! Thank you, Southwest, this makes so much more sense than the way it works now. Currently, passengers and their companions sometimes end up in different boarding groups. That’s because you have to check in yourself and your companion separately. Erik recently got A-List status, making it even more likely that he’d be in a separate boarding group from his companion. But once this new policy takes effect, it sounds like he won’t need to bother getting up at the crack of dawn to check in himself or his companion. Having A-List will make sure he gets in the first boarding group, and he can just bring his companion right to the front with him.

No show, no cancel, no refund

Southwest also announced today that if you decide not to take a rewards flight you’ve booked, you have to cancel that flight or you won’t get your points back. So apparently in the past, people who no-show for flights have been getting refunds? I had no idea. Cool.

Why the 135k requirement is not that big a deal

Although it’s annoying that Southwest keeps on raising the bar on the Companion Pass, this increase probably won’t affect that many people. That’s because they also announced, “As a new benefit, Rapid Rewards Credit Cardmembers will receive a boost of 10,000 Companion Pass qualifying points every year.”

So, they’re raising the threshhold by 10,000 point, but they’re also giving cardholders like me 10,000 extra points a year toward the pass. (These extra points can’t be redeemed for flights.) It’s a wash. And I’m guessing that most people who earn the Companion Pass have the Rapid Rewards credit card. There’s only so many people out there who get that many points just by flying.

Miles Family companion pass update

In other Companion Pass news, Erik finished all the spending needed to secure his Companion Pass for 2023. I’m actually kind of annoyed with myself that I paid fees to charge a couple large expenses (tuition, taxes) that we could have made it by the end of the year without. Oh well, it’s done, and now we can switch all spending through the end of the year to our Chase Sapphire card.