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This Wednesday, February 29, 2012 is the last day to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to AirTran. This is significant, because at some point AirTran A+ credits will transfer into Southwest Rapid Rewards points, however Southwest has not yet announced the transfer ratio, which is annoying.
I suspect news will come in March, since the acquisition, which was announced in September 2010, is finally coming to fruition with AirTran’s fleet starting to be painted.
I bet there will still be a good amount of time to use the A+ Rewards under the current system, which is pretty simple and can be lucrative since there is just one region for all awards, including those to the Caribbean:
8 credits for one-way coach award (12,000 Amex points)
16 credits for one-way business award (24,000 Amex points)
4 credits for business class upgrade – a great value since you earn 2 credits per flight. (6,000 Amex points)
50 credits for any airline coach domestic ticket (75,000 Amex points, eek)
100 credits for any airline coach domestic ticket to anywhere in the world. This can be a great value if you go somewhere exotic – plus you earn miles on the ticket. (150,000 Amex points)
100 credits for a year-long coach companion pass (150,000 Amex points- could be a good deal if you use it a lot). The companion is booked into the same class of service as the main passenger – even if there is no award availability and only full fare. If the main passenger is upgraded, so is the companion. Note: Southwest will be changing all AirTran planes to one-class economy cabins.
Expiration: Points expire after one year (two years for elite and credit card holders)
I wouldn’t personally recommend speculatively transferring tons of Amex points in hopes of getting a great conversion to Southwest or hoping that AirTran points will count towards Southwest’s super-lucrative Companion Pass. My guess is that 16 AirTran credits will become the equivalent of 25,000 Southwest points, which would be $417 in Wanna Get Away fares, $250 in Anytime and $208 in Business Select.
However, if you live in an Airtran serviced city and know you can get value from the current A+ program, then go for it before it’s too late! (Link to create an A+ Rewards account)