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Thousands of People Got the Southwest Companion Pass This Week. Except They Didn't.

April 05, 2019
3 min read
Southwest Hawaii-21
Thousands of People Got the Southwest Companion Pass This Week. Except They Didn't.
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A number of Southwest Airlines travelers woke up to some unexpected major excitement in their inboxes this week: The carrier notified them they that they had earned the coveted Southwest Companion Pass valid for travel through the end of 2019:

For those who don't know, the Companion Pass is one of the "holy grails" of points- and miles-based travel. A Companion Pass holder who books a Southwest flight is able to use that pass to book a travel companion for free, except for requisite airport taxes and fees.

Not only does the Companion Pass essentially create a BOGO on purchased flights, the incredible perk even works on award flights. I've been able to book trips for two people to New Orleans for as low as 1,385 Southwest Rapid Rewards points one-way using this perk, and thousands of other travelers have similar "magic moments" stories, including families who have strategically doubled up Companion Passes to take 15 family trips in two years, saving thousands of dollars. And yes, the pass even works on Southwest's new routes to Hawaii.

Unfortunately for those who thought they'd won the travel lottery this morning, the excitement was short-lived. As customers turned to social media to inquire about how to make good on the unexpected Companion Pass windfall, excitement turned to disappointment and they were left bemoaning the loss of their golden egg.

TPG Lounge members had some choice comments.

"Kind of a bad April Fool's joke, Southwest Airlines," said Brandon Reeves. "I did get a bunch of free drink coupons in the mail, but considering most of my travel is early mornings, and that I hadn't completely used the last batch, it's not the same as having companion pass. It was nice to think about having it for a few minutes." Ron Thomas went so far as to call the airline, which responded that "thousands of people" had received the email "by accident."

Southwest Airlines confirmed to TPG that the happy news was, in fact, a database error rather than a lucky windfall for a lot of hopeful travelers. "Yesterday, April 4, some Southwest Rapid Rewards members received an e-mail with incorrect information regarding their Companion Pass status," an airline spokesperson told TPG. "We sincerely apologize for any confusion this email may have caused, and we are reviewing the cause of the error. Members should review their Rapid Rewards account for their accurate balance, status level, and any additional information related to their Rapid Reward account."

This isn't the airline's first snafu with Companion Pass notifications; I received emails from Southwest in 2017, confirming and then retracting my Companion Pass status for the year:

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Alas. The airline giveth and the airline taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Companion Pass.

If you're interested in acquiring the Southwest Companion Pass for keeps, check out our guide on how to earn the Companion Pass in 2019.