Southwest extends Companion Pass, elite status benefits into 2021

May 7, 2020

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Editor’s note: This article was updated on May 7, 2020, to include information on Southwest extending promotional A-List elite status.

One of the most common questions we’ve gotten from readers since the start of the coronavirus outbreak is if those with a Southwest Companion Pass expiring at the end of 2020 will have benefits extended through 2021 due to the coronavirus. On April 16, after much anticipation, Southwest Airlines extended Companion Pass benefits through June 30, 2021 for eligible Rapid Rewards members.

In addition, Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred members will have their status extended through Dec. 31, 2021.

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In This Post

Southwest Companion Pass extension

If a Rapid Rewards member has a Companion Pass set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, its expiration date will be extended through June 30, 2021. All Companion Passes are eligible, including passes that were earned through credit card spending.

The Companion Pass is one of the most valuable travel benefits on the market. A favorite amongst the TPG team, it allows you to take a travel companion on all Southwest flights for just the cost of taxes and fees, including flights booked with Rapid Rewards points.

You can earn a Companion Pass of your own by earning 125,000 qualifying points or flying 100 one-way Southwest flights in a single calendar year. Qualifying points include Rapid Rewards points earned by flying, spending on a Southwest credit card (including welcome bonuses), shopping through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal and more.

Southwest’s cobranded credit cards are a great way to kickstart your Companion Pass earning. As previously discussed, welcome bonuses and all spend on a Southwest personal or business credit card are considered qualifying points; make sure to check out our complete guides to Southwest’s personal and business credit cards to find which card is right for your wallet.

As a reminder, Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire and you can change or cancel all tickets for free, so there’s no need to worry about keeping your points active if you plan to use them with your newly-extended Companion Pass.

Related: The best Southwest Airlines credit cards

A-List and A-List Preferred status extension

Southwest planes at MDW from the sky
(Photo by marchello74/Shutterstock.com.)

But the good news doesn’t stop there. Southwest’s A-List and A-List Preferred elite members will have their elite benefits extended through 2021.

All Southwest Rapid Rewards members who currently hold 2020 elite status will have their elite status benefits extended through Dec. 31, 2021. There is no need to enroll in this status extension, and eligible members are now seeing the new expiration date reflected in their accounts.

With this extension, Southwest has joined Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines in extending elite status benefits due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Related: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

Southwest promotional status now being extended

Southwest is also extending elite status for members who received promotional Southwest A-List status in early 2020. A-List status earned through this promotion was initially valid through the end of June, but is now extended to Dec. 31, 2020. This comes as a surprise as the airline initially said that promotional status was not eligible for this extension.

Related: What is Southwest elite status worth?

All Rapid Rewards members getting a status, Companion Pass “boost”

Southwest is also taking this further, as it’s announcement includes some news for all members. The airline has announced that it’s giving all Rapid Rewards members a head-start towards the Companion Pass benefit and A-List elite status. On the Companion Pass side, members will receive 25 qualifying flights and 25,000 qualifying points deposited into their accounts. This means that members only need to earn 100,000 additional Qualifying Points, which can be done by flying with Southwest or spending on a Southwest credit card.

Further, all members will receive 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits towards A-List and A-List Preferred status. This effectively drops the requirements for A-List status to 20,000 tier points and A-List preferred to 55,000 tier points, making it much easier for Rapid Rewards flyers to achieve status.

Note that none of these are actual redeemable points, so you can’t use them to book flights.

Bottom line

This is excellent news for both Southwest elites and Companion Pass holders, as these members no longer have to worry about requalifying for benefits in 2020. Likewise, it gives them more time to use the benefits they’ve rightfully earned in 2019 and haven’t been able to use during the coronavirus outbreak.

Stay tuned to our coronavirus hub page for more information on how the coronavirus outbreak is changing the travel world. Here are a few articles to get you started:

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