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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
Offer expired March 9, 2014.
Southwest is a great airline, but one of its drawbacks has been its route map, which is limited to domestic North American destinations. Thanks to its merger with AirTran, Southwest added some destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, but they are still somewhat limited, and some AirTran flights were not available for Southwest Companion Pass holders to take advantage of their benefits. But in a bit of good news this morning, Southwest announced this morning that it would begin flying to its first international destinations.
Beginning July 1, 2014, the airline will start offering flights to Aruba, the Bahamas and Jamaica. The new routes will be:
- Atlanta to Aruba and Montego Bay
- Baltimore/Washington to Aruba, Nassau, and (twice daily) Montego Bay
- Orlando to Aruba (Saturday only), and Montego Bay
And it looks like these flights are already bookable – say, if you wanted to go from Baltimore/Washington to Aruba over the long July 4 weekend:
Or Atlanta to Montego Bay:
Though it’s just 3 new international destinations for now (they’ll add Cancun, Los Cabos, Mexico City and Punta Cana by the end of 2014), it’s still great news for Companion Pass holders since it means not having to rely on codeshares with AirTran or finding non-overnight connections in order to use the pass on the still-merging airline’s not-quite-integrated route map. Remember, the Southwest credit cards are currently offering sign-up bonuses of
50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months, and those 50,000 points count towards qualifying for the Companion Pass.
For its part, AirTran will continue service between Atlanta and Nassau, between Chicago Midway and Montego Bay, as well as flights to/from Cancun, Los Cabos, and Mexico City, Mexico, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. By the end of 2014, the carrier plans to complete the launch of Southwest Airlines service to the remaining four international destinations on the company’s network route map of 96 destinations in six countries. Both carriers’ full flight schedules are now open for booking through August 8, 2014.
And remember, if you want to use your Rapid Rewards points on Wanna Get Away fares on any of these new routes, book it before the March 31 devaluation, otherwise you’ll be 70 points per $1 instead of 60 points per $1. If you need to top up your account, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points into it instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus or Ink Bold.
Do any of you plan to fly the new routes?
For more on Southwest, AirTran and the Companion Pass, check out these posts:
Top 10 Ways to Top Up Your Southwest Account for the Companion Pass Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.