Southwest Flights Aren’t Bookable via Chase Travel Using Some Credit Cards

Sep 5, 2018

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Families love Southwest Airlines thanks to its open seating policy, family boarding time, the Companion Pass, ability to redeposit or change award flights without penalty and more. You can instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio to book award flights directly with Southwest, but there are situations where you’re better off using your Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed value to book the flights via Chase’s travel portal, thereby earning toward your Companion Pass, A-List status and more.

Historically, even though you couldn’t use the online Chase portal to book Southwest flights with points, you could call Chase Travel at (866) 951-6592 to book the airline’s flights over the phone using the points from your Chase Freedom at 1 cent per point, your Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card at 1.25 cents per point and the points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve at 1.5 cents per point.

However, this functionality has recently changed. As Chase migrates to a new Expedia-powered travel booking engine, some card types that have made the switch are unable to use their points at a fixed value to book Southwest operated flights, even when calling. To confirm this, TPG staffers recently did test bookings over the phone and were unable to book Southwest flights via Chase Travel when utilizing the Chase Freedom card.

On the other hand, our test bookings on Southwest flights using points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred were successful, likely because Chase is still using its old booking system run by Connexions on those cards, as opposed to the new Expedia system. Expedia has confirmed to The Points Guy that its new Chase booking system doesn’t have the capability to book Southwest, though it’s looking to add the airline down the line.

Since you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points between accounts, booking Southwest flights with points earned via the Chase Freedom is still possible as long as you also have a CSP or CSR. That said, a TPG reader reported that they were not able to book Southwest flights this past weekend via Chase Travel using points from their Sapphire Preferred. It’s not known if that person worked with misinformed representatives or if the implementation of the new Expedia system has already expanded to some Sapphire cards.

Regardless, this is an issue for anyone who likes to use their Ultimate Rewards points to book Southwest flights directly, as the Expedia booking interface is set to expand to the other Ultimate Rewards cards shortly.

Why It’s (Sometimes) Better to Book Southwest via Chase Travel

Whether or not this issue gets resolved before or after additional Chase card types switch to the new Expedia-powered booking platform, there’s a reason it matters. When pricing out spring break flights from Houston (HOU) to Orlando (MCO) on Southwest, my test flights cost $425.96 for a round-trip ticket if purchased with cash. Using points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that would result in paying 28,397 points at 1.5 cents per point when booking with Chase Travel. However, I’d also earn 2,220 Rapid Reward points after flying on that ticket, as it’s viewed as a revenue ticket in the eyes of Southwest. Those points would also count toward earning the Companion Pass and A-List status.

Families love Southwest
Families love Southwest! (Photo by the author)

If, on the other hand, I transferred my Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio from a card with points transfer functionality, the same flights would cost 28,847 Rapid Rewards points plus $11.20 in taxes to book as awards directly with Southwest. These Rapid Rewards flights would not be eligible to earn Rapid Rewards points, so in total, they’d ultimately cost 2,670 additional points per ticket plus $11.20 in taxes. Multiply that out for a whole family trying to book spring break tickets, and you can see why being able to book Southwest flights over the phone with Chase Travel can be a very handy way of using points to travel more for less.

TPG has reached out to Chase for a statement regarding this current lack of functionality when using Ultimate Rewards points to book flights with Southwest.

Featured image by Gades Photography on Unsplash.

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