Do Southwest 'Companions' Receive Priority Boarding On Business Select Tickets?
"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
One of the reasons Southwest is able to offer such consistently low fares is because of the way its fleet is streamlined, from utilizing all 737s to not offering any premium cabins. Every seat on a Southwest flight is the same, yet the carrier still sells Business Select tickets that come with a number of perks (though a bigger seat isn't one of them). TPG reader Kelsey wants to know if those benefits transfer over when she travels using a Southwest Companion Pass...
[pullquote source="TPG READER KELSEY"]If you add a Southwest companion on a paid Business Select ticket, do they receive the additional Business Select benefits as well?[/pullquote]
One of the best reasons to pay up for Business Select fares is to guarantee yourself an A1-A15 boarding position, and the ability to pick just about any seat on the plane. You'll also enjoy expedited security, a free drink coupon and earn 12 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent.
While the Companion Pass has the potential to be one of the most valuable perks in the whole travel world, these Business Select benefits do not transfer over to your companion. Though Southwest doesn't explicitly address this scenario, the terms and conditions of the Companion Pass make it clear that add-on benefits do not transfer to the companion. Here's what the Southwest website has to say in reference to elite status:
For A-List and A-List Preferred Members who have also qualified for a Companion Pass, reserved boarding privileges will not be provided to the Companion unless the Companion is also an A-List or A-List Preferred Member.
Since a companion's travel isn't eligible to earn Rapid Rewards points, the biggest benefit you'd want to transfer to your companion would be the priority boarding. Even if your companion ends up in a lower boarding group than you, you can try saving them a seat or using some of these strategies to get other passengers to keep walking and leave the seats next to you open.
While a free drink coupon would be nice to kick off your vacation (or end it on the right note), if your companion is already getting a free flight, it shouldn't be that hard for them to cough up $5-7 to enjoy the beverage of their choice.
Southwest isn't a "low-cost carrier" in the way that sends chills down your spine as you remember your worst flight ever on _______ (insert Spirit/WOW/Ryanair etc.). That being said, the consistent low fares and lack of ancillary fees that make Southwest such a fan favorite is due in large part to the shorter list of perks and benefits it offers. Since you can't transfer Business Select benefits to your companion, you might be better opting for cheaper Wanna Get Away fares and saving your "splurge" for any solo Southwest travel you do.