Surprise! Check your account for unexpected Southwest elite status

Jan 3, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with confirmation from Southwest that the promotional A-List status some flyers are receiving is legitimate and not a glitch.

While this month can be a downer for those who didn’t qualify for airline elite status last year, some flyers are receiving a very welcome New Year’s gift in the form of Southwest A-List elite status.

TPG reader Megan McGuire emailed us to report she’d been awarded Southwest A-List status through June 30, 2020. And she’s not the only one — I’ve got it on my account too, as do TPG Points and Miles reporter Joseph Hostetler and numerous readers in the TPG Lounge Facebook group.

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A Southwest representative on FlyerTalk verified the promotion is not a glitch: “A select group of Chase Cardmember Customers were targeted for promotional A-List status that was automatically granted through June 30, 2020.”

Many who are targeted opened a Chase Southwest credit card in 2019 during the limited-time (no longer available) promotion that awarded a Southwest Companion Pass through Dec. 31, 2019 after completing minimum spending requirements. Some who received the status (including myself) had few to no paid segments on Southwest last year.

Normally, to earn A-List status, you’d need 25 qualifying one-way flights or 35,000 TQPs in a calendar year. While this promotional status is only valid for six months, it’s nothing to sniff at, especially if you fly Southwest often. TPG Points Lab Senior Editor Nick Ewen values Southwest A-List elite status at $685, assuming you fly a moderate amount with Southwest.

Related: What is Southwest elite status worth?

Southwest A-List elite perks include:

  • Priority Boarding: You’ll get a boarding position 36 hours before your flight (compared to checking in and receiving a spot 24 hours prior). While higher-tier elites and Business Select ticket holders will still board before you, you should hopefully get a spot in the A boarding group.
  • 25% point bonus: A-List members earn 25% more points than regular flyers.
  • Free same-day standby: You can also standby on an earlier flight at no charge as an A-List member. This is only available for flights between the same cities before your originally scheduled departure time and on the same date of travel (and note that free standby is also provided for Anytime and Business Select fares, so this perk only offers tangible value on Wanna Get Away tickets). For flights outside this window, you’re still given priority over non-elites, but must pay a fare difference if a seat opens up.
  • Priority check-in and security: This is especially beneficial if you’re checking bags, because Southwest’s policy of free checked bags for all passengers tends to create longer check-in lines than other airlines.
  • Priority phone line: Southwest offers a priority phone line to elite members, which can be a nice perk when major weather events hit.

This is especially timely for those who fell short of earning Southwest elite status in 2019. In the age of airlines tightening up their elite status qualification rules, this goodwill from Southwest is certainly welcome news.

Featured photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

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