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Last Chance to Get the Best Deal in Family Travel

Feb. 09, 2019
7 min read
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For the last few weeks I've been a bit of a broken record — and I'm not the least bit sorry. I've been sharing the value of the Southwest Companion Pass to anyone who would listen in written stories, on social media, via a Facebook Live, with poster board, at the coffee shop, in line at the airport, wherever. For years, there's been different ways to earn the pass without actually flying enough on Southwest to earn it the old-fashioned way, but none of those ways have been as easy as hitting one spending requirement on a new Southwest credit card and getting a pass valid for the rest of 2019. If you fly Southwest, this is the best deal in family travel. Period.

This one-and-done path to the Southwest Companion Pass has never before been available to everyone in the US (it was offered just to California residents once before), and I would not count on it returning. I mean, I hope it does, but we don't have history to rely on for this one.

Last Chance for an Easy Southwest Companion Pass

Your family only has until Monday, Feb. 11 to pick up a Southwest Companion Pass for the rest of 2019, plus earn 30,000 Rapid Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months simply by opening one of the following cards and hitting the spending requirement:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

Why Families Need a Companion Pass

A Southwest Companion Pass has virtually no 'gotcha' terms and conditions. With it, your designated companion can fly with you for the rest of 2019 on your Southwest flights for just the cost of taxes. It doesn't matter if you pay for your ticket with points or cash. Just get the pass and you can book a ticket to bring your companion as long as at least one seat is available for sale.

You can change your companion up to three times in the year, booking their virtually free ticket is easy to do online and the pass is valid for international travel (and soon Hawaii!).

A view off the Road to Hana in Maui, Hawaii. (Photo by Sean Bernstein via Unsplash)

Here are some articles to help you decide if the Southwest Companion Pass is right for your family, plus some tips on how to maximize it:

The Grandparent Case Study

We’ve talked about the Companion Pass offer that ends on Monday in the context of general family travel, for those with a baby, etc. However, there’s one other segment of the population that can do extremely well with the Southwest Companion Pass: grandparents.

My in-laws earned a Southwest Companion Pass in the spring of 2017 in large part thanks to a now-defunct way of transferring large chunks of hotel points to Southwest. They aren’t road warriors or deep level miles and points aficionados, but they know a good travel deal when they see one, so they went after the Companion Pass.

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These grandparents live in Kansas, but have grandkids in Texas and Connecticut and clusters of close friends and family in Upstate New York and in the Pacific Northwest. While they had the pass, they made at least a half-dozen trips to visit their kids and grandkids, were at some of their birthday parties, went to a wedding in Florida, positioned themselves in the DC area for a trip to Europe, visited family out west and generally went wherever their hearts desired without flight costs doing a massive number on their monthly budget. Having their own unlimited buy-one-get-one-free travel deal was a game changer.

Their final use of the Companion Pass before losing it at the end of 2018 was to fly home to Kansas after spending Christmas at our home for the very first time. As an added bonus, that also meant being at my 9-year-old's birthday party just days before Christmas.

My daughter had all four grandparents at her 9th birthday thanks to the Companion Pass

With the Companion Pass, my mother-in-law would pay for her airline ticket with dollars or Southwest Rapid Rewards points and then bring along her husband for just the cost of taxes. For more than a year and a half, they traveled together more than ever before thanks to having that pass.

Sadly, they didn’t get to use the pass for international travel (they save their international travel for Europe), but if they had wanted to explore Mexico or the Caribbean, they certainly could have done so using the Companion Pass.

You Can Do It, Too

You may not have the flexibility to fly as frequently as semi-retired grandparents, but even using the pass once a quarter can add up to big travel savings. We'll use $350 as the average cost of a domestic round-trip ticket in the US, though with Southwest your number may be higher or lower. If you flew once each quarter using the Companion Pass on a ticket that cost around $350, the pass would save you $1,400 in just a year! Add in the value of the 30,000 Rapid Rewards points you get with the Southwest credit card's welcome bonus (worth $450 according to TPG), and just one sign-up bonus could be worth $1,850. And really, that number is conservative as many families (such as my in-laws) are able to get more value than that from their pass.

My girls flying on Southwest

Bottom Line

Earning a Southwest Companion Pass (plus the sign-up bonus) valid for the rest of 2019 by getting just one Southwest credit card may be the best family travel deal out there, so don't miss out when the offer ends on Feb. 11.

Official application links: Earn the Companion Pass and enjoy 2-for-1 travel for the rest of 2019 with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card.

Featured image by (Photo by Garry Lopater via Unsplash)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.