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TPG reader Andrew sent me a message on Facebook to ask about booking companion fares:
“I’m close to earning the Southwest Companion Pass. Once I do, will I be able to add a companion to flights I’ve already booked?”
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most popular travel rewards available, partly because of how easy it is to redeem. The pass famously works on both award travel and paid fares, so you can stretch your Rapid Rewards points as well as your dollars. Furthermore, you have the flexibility to add or remove a second passenger as you see fit. That means unlike many other companion tickets, you don’t have to book both fares at the same time.
As a Companion Pass holder, you can reserve a seat for your designated companion so long as you’re also ticketed on the same flight. It’s valid on new and existing reservations, including flights you booked prior to earning Companion Pass status. Once you have it, all your itineraries are eligible, so Andrew should be able to add his companion to upcoming flights with no problem.
There are just a few exceptions worth noting. First, there must be a seat available, so you can’t book a companion ticket if the flight is full. Second, your ticket can’t also be a companion ticket — that is, you can’t bring a companion along if you’re already flying as someone else’s companion. Finally, you must check in with your companion, and reservations must be made at least one hour prior to departure (though this is also true of other awards, so it isn’t specific to the Companion Pass).
The Companion Pass is a great example of why flexibility is valuable when it comes to using travel rewards. Total savings aren’t the only important factor; you also have to consider the time and effort it takes to redeem. For example, the Amex Platinum companion fare could theoretically save you thousands of dollars on a ticket, but it comes loaded with restrictions that make it impractical. In contrast, you might save a few hundred dollars each time you use the Southwest Companion Pass, but it’s worth more cumulatively because it’s unlimited and so easy to use.
For more on earning and redeeming the Southwest Companion Pass, check out these posts:
- Do I Have to Book with Southwest to Use the Companion Pass?
- Work Toward the Southwest Companion Pass by Transferring Hotel Points
- Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards Points without Flying