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The Benefits of Moving AirTran Credits to Southwest and Vice Versa

by on April 21, 2012 · 59 comments

in AirTran, Southwest

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With anxiety-inducing echoes of the merger of Continental and United, the acquisition of AirTran by Southwest means that the two airlines are also going to be merging their frequent flyer programs: AirTran A+Rewards will become a part of Southwest Rapid Rewards.

If you don’t want to read in detail below, the key things to note here are:
1) You can now transfer Southwest points to AirTran so you can use them for international (Caribbean/Mexico) and business class awards.
2) If you have expiring credits/points you can transfer them back and forth to extend the expiration date by a year (and then transfer again before this transfer option goes away to extend one more time)
3) AirTran to Southwest credits won’t help you get a Southwest companion pass, but you can move 120,000 Southwest points to 100 AirTran credits and then redeem for one of their 100-credit companion passes
4) You can effectively “launder” Southwest points to AirTran credits back to old Southwest credits. Now, points are worth 1.66 cents towards Wanna Get Away fares. 19,200 points would be $318 in airfare. However, 19,200 Southwest points transferred to AirTran and then back to Southwest credits would get you a free Wanna Get Away roundtrip award regardless of the price. So if you are eyeing a roundtrip Wanna Get Away ticket that’s more than $318, it behooves you to book it via AirTran and back to credits vs. Southwest points.

Where do I go to transfer?
  • Go to southwest.com® and enter your username or your Rapid Rewards number and your password under “Account Login“.
  • Once logged in to your account, click on the “My Account” link under your name in the welcome message box on the right.
  • Once inside your Rapid Rewards account, click on the “My Rapid Rewards” tab. Next, select the “Transfer Between A+ Rewards
    and Rapid Rewards
    ” button on the left side of the page, or select the link from the dropdown menu in the “Quick Links” section.

If you need a Southwest Rapid Rewards account, you can get 750 free points by signing up via this link and agreeing to receive weekly and monthly emails.

Here’s an infographic explaining how it will work:

Here’s Southwest’s flowchart on converting points between the two programs.

Air Tran to Southwest
Air Tran members will be able to convert their A+ Rewards credits into old Rapid Rewards credits, not their new system of Points. This made me scratch my head a bit – why would Southwest want to re-open issuing of their old Rapid Rewards credits (where 8= a one-way Wanna Get Away flight)? I suppose they didn’t want AirTran members screaming about the credits being devalued into a new confusing fixed-value system (which they are going to have to get used to sooner or later anyway). With this credit-credit exchange, 8 AirTran credits, which currently are enough for a one-way coach awards, will equal enough for a Southwest one-way coach award. Fair enough.

Credits can be converted in increments of .25 credits. The expiration date of newly created Rapid Rewards Credits will be the same as the original expiration date of the A+ Rewards Credits converted. Once you reach 16 total combined credits in your Rapid Rewards account, an Award will automatically generate, carrying an expiration date of one year from the date the Award was created. You can read more about the conversion here.

Companion Pass?
The biggest question I have is whether converting AirTran credits to Southwest credits will count towards the annual companion pass, however there are only two ways to earn a pass: fly 100 one-way flights or accrue 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying points. Per my understanding, the old rule of 100 credits = a companion pass is no longer available, though if anyone has experience to the contrary, please share your insights.

Southwest to Air Tran
Southwest members can convert their Rapid Rewards Points, Rapid Rewards active Credits and active Awards and Certificates into A+ Rewards The amazing thing is that those AirTran credits can then be converted into Southwest credits – effectively allowing one to convert Southwest points (fixed value) into credits (old system of one-way flight awards for 8 credits).

-Rapid Rewards Points can be converted in increments of 300 points. The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will be one year from the date of creation. Once points have been converted into A+ Rewards Credits, they cannot be converted back into Rapid Rewards as points. However, they can be converted back into Southwest credits! 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points will equal 1 A+ Rewards Credit. 1 A+ credit = 1 Southwest Credit. 

-Rapid Rewards Credits can be converted in increments of .25 credits. The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will be the same as the original expiration date of the Rapid Rewards Credits transferred. 1 Rapid Rewards Credit will equal 1 A+ Rewards Credit.

-Active one-way Standard Award Certificates can be transferred for 8 A+ Rewards Credits. The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will remain the same as the original expiration date on the Award/Certificate. 1 Rapid Rewards Standard Award Certificate equals 16 A+ Rewards Credits.

-Active one-way Freedom Award Certificates can be transferred for 16 A+ Rewards Credits. The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will remain the same as the original expiration date on the Award/Certificate. 1 Rapid Rewards Freedom Award Certificate equals 32 A+ Rewards Credits.

What Does This Mean?

One good thing about it is that Chase Ultimate Rewards members can now use their points on Air Tran by default since Southwest is a 1:1 partner of Chase. You could convert your points into Rapid Rewards points, and then turn those into A+ Rewards and opening up a few more redemption offers. Per AirTran’s award chart, one-way business class upgrades are a measly 4 credits (4,800 Southwest/Chase points), one-way coach award is 8 credits (9,600 Southwest/Chase points), a one-way business class award is 16 credits (19,200 Southwest/Chase points) and a year-long companion pass is 100 credits (120,000 Southwest/Chase points).

The companion pass is something to think about if you fly AirTran. 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 coach for sale. If the main passenger is upgraded, so is the companion. There is no news whether AirTran companion passes will become Southwest Companion Passes once the programs officially merge, but my guess is that they will since they usually err in favor of their passengers during mergers.

To get more into the specifics of the conversion and redemption offers and how they will affect members of both programs, check out the updated FAQ page.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Lynn

    Is one able to use an existing SWA CP when booking AirTran flights? For example, can I (as a CP earner) transfer SWA points to AirTran, use these to purchase a ticket for myself, and add my CP traveler at no cost?

  • thepointsguy

    I do not believe so- the southwest companion pass is for southwest flights- I’ve not seen an announcement including AirTran, unfortunately

  • Elizabeth Houston

    I have an unrelated question for you- After an airport disaster I ended up on an Air India flight, DEL-LHR. I want to get credit for the miles, but can’t figure out what airline has an Air India association. Any recomendations? Thanks!

  • Garrett

    Make sure there is SW availability before doing this! I could’nt find a way to search for standard award availability and sure enough after transfering from Airtran found out that there isn’t!

  • Matt C

    If you have CP status and transfer all your points to Airtran (according to the article 120,000 SW points for 100 Credits) will you have CP status on both southwest AND Airtran. If so, is it like SW’s where once you earn it you keep CP status even if you spend the points (you don’t have to maintain 110,000 pts just reach it)? So in essence you could have 2 CP Status and still have 100 A+ credits to be converted back into 100 SW credits (12.5 one-way flights).

  • SW Man

    There has to be a way for me to take advantage of this. I have a CP w/ SW and 112,000 RR credits (can fill in remainder w/ Chase). I have never even flown Airtran. Is it a decent business class? I actually like the new SW reward system because if you’re patient, you can almost always find an amazing deal on roundtrip airfare for under 20,000 points (and sometimes way less). If I transfer all my RR points to Airtran, get the Airtran pass, and then transfer freely back and forth to SW, I will lose the option of booking a SW flight on the cheap (I’ve gotten roundtrip for 10,000 or less!).

    Should this be a no-brainer? Am I over-thinking it, and should I just be doing the transfer to have more options including a CP with a second airline??

  • Sanjeev M

    Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines at the minimum. There are some other Star partners as well.

    https://www.flyingreturns.co.in/html/index.php

  • Sanjeev M

    I wouldn’t do it. AirTran business class is not spectacular. Keep the RR points (maybe shuttle them back and forth to FL to retain validity) and use the Chase for something better like United.

  • TravelerBrian

    The 100 A+ credits needed for an AirTran Companion Pass must be spent to get the Companion Pass – it is an award redemption. Unlike on SWA where once the milestone is reached, the pass is automatically earned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Foster/681982065 Matthew Foster

    Great Tip. I was able to extend an old award that was set to expire in August until April of nnext year by simply transferring the award ticket to AT and back to SWA. Also transferred back and forth to earn more standard awards as flights between OAK-HOU are now running $400 RT. Thanks again

  • thepointsguy

    You need to redeem the 100 credits to get the Airtran Companion Pass- its not like Southwest where they give it to you.

  • DB

    Bit off topic, but related. I have $1500 of Southwest gift cards from cc signups awhile back. I don’t believe I can use these on AirTran yet (please correct me if I’m wrong). But does anyone have any knowledge or thoughts as to whether they will be able to be used for Airtran in the near future?

  • Benlaw21

    Hi Brian. I already booked a flight from SFO-LGA roundtrip for me and my girlfriend using 36,000 rapid rewards points and my companion pass which I thought was still a decent deal at a time. What you’re saying is I can get the same trip for 19,200 rapid rewards points, via transferring to Airtran, and back to Southwest Old reward? Can I still use my companion pass if I’m booking with the old reward system?

  • Dave

    That’s great – but (unless I’m reading it wrong) the language in the FAQ says that the expiration dates of credits/awards don’t change when transferring? Or does it get extended because a “new” standard award is generated when transferring back to SW? Thanks!

  • LK

    Thanks, this was very helpful in extending the expiration dates on orphaned SW credits. Does anybody know when the ability to transfer expires?

  • HikerT

    re: “If you have expiring credits/points you can transfer them back and forth to extend the expiration date”

    Not sure how transferring credits would extend the expiration date? While the ability to pair with Southwest credits (or newly minted credits via Southwest points) can help generate enough credits to redeem for an award before credits expire, the expiration date of the credits remains the same. Yes, you can redeem 16 credits for a Southwest award, which will then be valid for 1 year, but you still have to fly within that year. It doesn’t prevent expiration any more than booking an AirTran award out 1 year out (possibly further), ignoring change penalties. A better way to avoid point expiration may be to redeem 4 points for a one way AirTran upgrade voucher which would then be valid for a year (assuming AirTran still issues these, not sure).

    re: “why would Southwest want to re-open issuing of their old Rapid Rewards credits”

    Seems pretty clear they are doing this to ensure credits will expire and cannot be extended via conversion (by converting into non-expiring Southwest points).

    re: “If the main passenger is upgraded, so is the companion. ”

    Not sure that’s true. It says Companions that wish to receive a one-way Business Class upgrade must redeem four A+ Rewards credits from their sponsor or may pay for an upgrade beginning midnight the day prior to the departure date.

  • HikerT

    Nothing wrong with AirTran business class IMO. It’s the best value out there for those who want a domestic first class seat with legroom and are more than happy with premium snacks. I wouldn’t necessarily use 16 credits for a one way award in biz, but one way PUJ-SEA, I’d use 4 credits to upgrade in a heartbeat.

  • HikerT

    Ah, I think I understand what you are saying about extending expiration dates. The catch is it requires having (or minting) at least 16 total credits. Once you transfer 16 credits into Southwest it automatically converts the 16 credits into an award that expires in 1 year. You can then transfer the award to AirTran for 16 credits. The new AirTran credits will have the same expiration date as the Southwest award. Unfortunately wouldn’t help me to extend my AirTran credits as they expire more than a year out (due to being earned by the AirTran credit card). That said, it looks like a great loophole if your credits are expiring. Wonder how long this will last.

  • HikerT

    Southwest companion pass is good for award tickets but watch out for “old” award availability.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Foster/681982065 Matthew Foster

    It becomes a new standard award and extends the expiration date

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PZ4SZWBCNUCWNR53UZASCAEZSU Matt

    Point #2 in the article needs to be corrected. My transfer of a credit from Southwest to AirTran and back did not change the expiration date. The terms and conditions said it wouldn’t, but I still though I’d try.

  • HikerT

    The catch is you need to transfer enough credits. Once you reach 16 total combined credits in your Rapid Rewards account, a Standard Award will automatically generate, carrying an expiration date of one year from the date the Award was created. Then you can transfer the award back to AirTran for 16 credits which will have the same expiration date as the award that was created, at least until they shut the loophole down. :)

  • mattolo

    Hey Brian, how about this interesting redemption listed on the A+ rewards site:
    “Roundtrip coach ticket on another airline anywhere else in the world” for 100 credits. Any idea how this works? That’s a pretty bold statement. Any extremely expensive coach tickets this could be used on? Flying to Antarctica or something??

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  • tassojunior

    The terms say the expiration date of the new A+ credits are the same as the old WN credits or award.

    And vice-versa.

    So how does transferring back and forth extend the award or credit ?

  • Justin

    Anyone book a Standard Award and then add a companion to the booking? With this benefit, one could get an Southwest roundtrip for 19,200 RR points, correct? Also, are transfer instantaneous?

  • Matt C

    Air India is not in the Star Alliance, how do you get credit on LH and Singapore for an Air India flight?

  • tassojunior

    Success. Transferred 2 awards about to expire to A+ and back immediately. 2 new awards in WN now have expiration date out a year. Thanks.

    May do my points too to get coast-to-coast awards. They’re always worth more than $318. I just worry about the 1 year expiration on them.

  • Larrystemle

    Do you know if you can use a 16-credit standard Coach A+ award for their Carribean destinations? I called AirTran today and she said you could but it seems too good to be true, and I thought I had read a while back that their international destination awards take twice the points. Do you know?

  • Larrystemle

    Forgot to mention, I’m converting Southwest old-style credits and awards….

  • Reaper99999

    Are the rr awards subject to blackout like in the old days?

  • Larrystemle

    I have old style SW awards, which was a 16-credit coach free ticket. Does anyone know if I can convert this to an A+ award for their CARRIBEAN destinations? I called AirTran today and she said there is no distinction between domestic and Carribean, but it seems too good to be true, and I thought I had read a while back that it took 2 SW awards for their international destination awards. Do you know?

  • Katie

    I converted my AirTran 8 points to Southwest, hoping to book a one-way flight there. I called and talked to a representative and she said Southwest will only book rt reward flights. May have to convert back to AirTran, unless you think I just need to speak to a different associate?

  • smg4399

    Aside from points does anybody know if I can use my banked $ from southwest for an airtran flight?

  • Jdservice

    How about moving Airtran credits to help with Southwest Tier levels? For example, if I have flown 30 AirTran oneways (30 credits) will that count for 30 one way trips to Southwest for A list preferred status?

  • Ryan Brown

    Can I transfer a SW RR credit to a different persons account on Air Tran?

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  • Wesslong11

    Ssouthwest awards are round trip only. AirTran has one way awards.

  • TIMMY D

    Since I have only a small amount of credits expiring, does anyone know of a way to redeem these (Airtran credits) for anything? I used them for a magazine subscription before, but the only link I can find for that is broken.

  • Str8

    Does this still work?

  • Jeff

    “4) You can effectively “launder” Southwest points to AirTran credits back to old Southwest credits. …… So if you are eyeing a roundtrip Wanna Get Away ticket that’s more than $318, it behooves you to book it via AirTran and back to credits vs. Southwest points.”

    However, in the terms and conditions on Rapid Rewards site, it says “All transactions are final and cannot be reversed….” so does that mean that point transfer can only occur once, ie, RR points -> A+ or A+ -> RR ?

    THanks for your thought!

    Jeff

  • Bwt172
  • NOT HAPPY

    Thanks for making me WASTE fucking 57,000 points for 3 USELESS southwest STANDARD awards. THEY HAVE BLACKOUT DATES BECAUSE IT’S NOT A “FREEDOM” AWARD. COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT AND WILL NOW COST ME $3,000! THANKS! ASSHOLE.

  • not happy

    They don’t tell you if there’s any seats available on these flights using standard awards until AFTER you try to book them. You can only book one flight at a time too. there is also no way to convert the award back to your points either.

  • also not happy

    I called only find out A+ credits are treated the same on Southwest – they only have certain seats available – and I tried literally dozens of date combinations and there never any seats available -exactly the same as AirTran. So converting is not wise unless you plan on traveling T or W’s No weekend travel was ever available. Don’t convert your A+ unitl you call SW to find out if your travel dates are available.

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  • 1poobah

    Can you transfer miles from family members from Southwest to Airtran, and then use the one Airtran account to pay for all the flights for the entire family?

  • Schmenge

    Just got screwed transferring A+ credits to SW, then back to A+, then back to SW. Did this to reset my expiration date. Not only didn’t reset, but the second time I did this my SW credits went from 2 to 1. HOSED!

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  • Mike Reed

    Then you have a standard award in your account. It’s definitely a 1:1 proposition.

  • Mike Reed

    When you transfer 16 credits, a new SW award is generated with a new date. Transferring that award back keeps the AWARD date, not the CREDITS date.

  • Mike Reed

    Making you? Held a gun to your head and…

    Of course they have blackout dates. They’re standard awards. That’s a clearly defined limitation of these awards.

    As for determining availability? You can always call – and it’s even toll free.

  • Stupid Is As Stupid Does

    Haha – thanks for ‘making you’ look like an idiot…

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  • Jamie Sexton

    Any tips on travelling to Mexico with Airtran? I want to convert my points, but I can’t find direct flights to Cancun. In order to get to Cancun from Oklahoma City, it is going to take me about two days using Southwest and Airtran.

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