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Southwest announces Companion Pass, Rapid Rewards changes for 2023

Oct. 21, 2022
4 min read
Southwest Boeing 737-700 in the sky over Los Angeles
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Southwest Airlines is making some changes to its Rapid Rewards program, largely affecting the Companion Pass.

These changes will take place at the beginning of next year, according to an email Rapid Rewards members received from the Dallas-based carrier Friday.

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Companion Pass changes.

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Southwest Companion Pass changes

SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Southwest’s Companion Pass is a highly intriguing option for travelers who frequently fly with a partner. The pass allows you to bring your traveling partner along at no cost, on as many flights as you’d like as long as the pass is valid.

You can earn a Companion Pass through a couple of different avenues, including earning a steep number of Rapid Rewards points within a year’s time, or through the welcome offer associated with some Southwest cobranded credit cards.

There are some tweaks to the policy for next 2023, though.

Earning requirements changing

Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, Southwest is raising the qualifying benchmark for the Companion Pass from 125,000 points to 135,000 points.

Rapid Rewards members will also be able to earn the Companion Pass by flying at least 100 qualifying flights with Southwest.

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When it comes to the 135,000 points, though, remember that earning through air travel is only one of the ways you can work your way toward the threshold. Spending with Southwest partners — like on the airline's shopping portal — or spending on a cobranded credit card can boost your progress toward earning the pass.

There is one piece of good news, though: While Southwest is raising the qualifying benchmark for the Companion Pass by 10,000 points, cobranded credit card holders will get a 10,000-point boost either at the beginning of the year (for existing cardholders) or within 30 days of opening an account (for new members).

It's worth noting that Southwest last raised the Companion Pass requirements from 110,000 points to 125,000 points in 2019.

New boarding rules

Another change to the Companion Pass rules taking effect at the start of the new year should be good news: Companion Pass holders and their companions can now board together.

This should make it easier to find a place to sit without worrying about saving a seat (or at least attempting to) while the companion waits to board.

There are a couple of exceptions to this allowance: Companions won’t be allowed to board with the passholder if the passholder purchased a Business Select fare or upgraded boarding, or if the companion was added after they were already assigned a boarding position.

Again, this starts on Jan. 1, 2023.

Related: Everything you need to know about the best seats on Southwest Airlines

More ways to redeem Southwest points

We will see more Rapid Rewards changes next year. JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Southwest also teased that members will be getting new ways to earn and redeem Rapid Rewards points starting in 2023, though the carrier did not specify what those avenues would be.

SOUTHWEST

It will be interesting to see what these new earning and redemption options are. We could see new partnerships, revamped credit cards or other large changes to the program. That said, we're hopeful that this doesn't come as a devaluation to the program, as we've seen with other airline loyalty programs over the past two years.

Of course, TPG will be watching to see what other changes might be coming to the Rapid Rewards program.

Related: Your complete guide to maximizing Southwest Rapid Rewards

Bottom line

Southwest’s changes to its Rapid Rewards program for 2023 are a bit of a mixed bag for members: While the threshold for earning the Companion Pass is getting steeper, those with cobranded credit cards will immediately see the difference made up. Further, the boarding process should generally get a bit simpler for those using a Companion Pass.

Featured image by AARONP/BAUER-GRIFFIN/GC IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES
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.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees