The day I reached companion pass was quite exciting. Achieving this particular status takes a lot of travel. More importantly though, it means, when I go on a business trip, my wife can come with me. You see when you have a companion pass, you get to designate one person that can come with you for next to free. The only thing you have to pay is the $2.50 per flight TSA 911 Security Fee. This is quite the deal.
As some of you might be approaching companion pass, you might be wondering what the experience looks like. We’ll start by talking about what it takes to get Companion Pass, what happens once you have it, booking, and finally traveling with your companion.
Getting Companion Pass Status
Earning companion pass requires a massive 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points (or CPQP) or 100 flights. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually easier than you think. This holds especially true if you have the Southwest Visa Signature card as all of the dollars you spend there turn into CPQP. Points double for most travel purchases. For example, if you spend $400 on a ticket with your Southwest card, you’ll get an additional 800 points when you pay your bill. When you first sign up for the card and get your 25k or 50k bonus points, it makes it quite easy to hit Companion Pass status.
When Companion Pass has been achieved…
When you achieve companion pass, you may or may not receive a notification. However, if you have been tracking it on Southwest.com, you will see it there as soon as you achieve it. As a reminder, all points earned show up the day after you complete your return flight. Once you achieve your new status, you will see a new button on Southwest.com in the Rapid Rewards section.
Rapid Rewards widget on Southwest.com with Companion Pass enabled.
Here you will be prompted to enter the information about your companion. Be sure and get this information right when you add it. If you need to make a change, Southwest only lets you change it three times a year and it is going to require a phone call. That means, if you are the type that goes through significant others rather rapidly in one year, Companion Pass may not work very well for you. :)
Rapid Rewards screen showing Companion Pass at 100%.
Eventually, you will get a new Rapid Rewards membership card indicating your new status. It will have you and your companion’s name. Now, if you read the details of the program, it says that you and your companion need to have this on you when you board, but I have never been asked for it.
Booking a Companion Pass flight
When you are ready to take your first trip with your companion, book your trip normally whether you are paying with your credit card, booking through your travel system at work, or using Rapid Rewards points. That’s right, you can book a flight using Rapid Rewards points and your companion can come with you for practically free. The benefit is amazing.
After you book your flight, look for a new link on the My Travel page that says Add a Companion. Click through the steps and pay the $2.50 per flight TSA 911 security fees and your companion will soon be on the plane with you.
The link to add a companion is displayed.
After you have booked your travel, you will be able to view you and your companion’s reservation. I’ve removed all of my confirmation numbers from the example images.
Travel booked with companion.
Your companion has his or her own itinerary. That means he or she needs to check in 24 hours before your flight just like you do. Since they have a separate confirmation number, they won’t show up on your itinerary when you check in. If your companion doesn’t have status, this means that they will likely have a boarding position way after yours.
One you arrive at the airport, check in (if you haven’t already) as normal. I have found that I can get away with bringing my companion through the fly-by security line even though she doesn’t have A-List status yet most of the time. I can usually bring her through the priority line at the counter as well. You then both need to line up in your appropriate boarding positions and board the plane. If your companion doesn’t have status, you will likely have the arduous task of keeping the seat next to you free while you are waiting for he or she to board. Be strong and hopefully you and your companion will be seated together.
With Companion Pass, both of you have to travel on the same flight. If for some reason, you don’t make it on the flight but your companion does, your companion is going to have to pay up. According to the terms, they may not catch it at the time of flight, so if you knowingly violate the policy, you are at risk of having your companion pass revoked. I’m not exactly sure how Southwest will handle all of these exception scenarios, so be sure and ask if you think there is going to be an issue.
If you are getting close to Companion Pass level or have just achieved it, I hope you find this guide useful.