It's easily one of the best deals in travel -- but it's getting harder to earn one.

By Alison Fox
October 23, 2019

Show your favorite friend, significant other, or family member how much you love them by whisking them away on a vacation --without actually spending that much.

With the Southwest Companion Pass, eligible fliers can arrange for one other person to fly with them at almost no cost (they only have to pay the taxes and fees). For years, people have been saying this is one of the best deals in travel.

“The concept of creating an unlimited BOGO was just so radical,” Corbitt Burns, the director of Rapid Rewards for Southwest, told Travel + Leisure about the creation of the Companion Pass. “We wanted something that was unmatched and couldn’t be copied by our competition, and we’ve been able to sustain it. It aligns really well with our core mission and the vision of our company, which is to connect people with things that really matter to them.”

So go ahead and plan that perfect romantic trip to explore the cocktail bars in New York City, eat your way through Mexico, or chill out on the beaches of Hawaii. Southwest serves more than 100 destinations, and with this program, bringing along your favorite person is a breeze.

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How to Get (and Keep) a Southwest Companion Pass

Fly a Lot

As of January 1, 2020, you can earn a Southwest Companion Pass by flying 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 125,000 qualifying points in any one calendar year. If you do that, you will receive a pass for the remainder of the year plus the next full calendar year.

Apply for a Rapid Rewards Credit Card

You can earn qualifying points with Southwest when you use their Rapid Rewards credit card. Plus, you can earn 40,000 points as a bonus for signing up after you spend $1,000 in the first three months the card is open. If you open a business card, you can earn 70,000 points as a bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first three months after opening the account.

Stay at Partner Hotels

Customers who are members of hotel rewards programs can earn points by staying at hotels that partner with Southwest, including Best Western, Marriott, and Hyatt. For example, Marriott Rewards members who are also Rapid Rewards members can earn points by staying at Marriott brand hotels, like JW Marriott, Moxy Hotels, or Courtyard by Marriott. Book the hotel through Southwesthotels.com or with the Rapid Rewards credit card to earn the points.

Rent a Car

Rapid Rewards members can request to earn points while booking a rental car at eight different companies, including Alamo, Hertz, and Avis. Simply request to earn the points when you rent.

Take a Sunset Cruise or a Cooking Class

As if you needed another excuse to go on vacation, you can earn your Rapid Rewards points when you book an experience through Southwest Airlines Experiences. Have fun searching for whale sharks in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, for example, all while getting that much closer to a Southwest Companion Pass.

Go Shopping

Southwest lets you earn points by shopping at participating retailers, like 1-800-Flowers.com or Harry & David (when you meet the minimum spend of $29.99). You can also earn points by shopping at 850 stores through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal.

Go Out to Eat

Rapid Rewards members can earn up to three points for every $1 spent simply by eating out at any of the many participating restaurants through Rapid Rewards Dining. You can register up to 12 credit or debit cards to track purchases, so indulge in some brunch and plan all the trips you’ll take when you earn enough for a Southwest Companion Pass.

You Need to Re-qualify Every Year

While you can start using the Companion Pass immediately after you qualify for it and continue using it for the full next calendar year, you will have to re-qualify after that -- as if any of us needed a reason to take another flight?

Southwest Companion Pass Perks

You Can Fly Whenever

The Companion Pass has no blackout dates or seat restrictions, so holiday travel and vacationing on popular dates is super easy.

You Can Change Companions

Once a customer earns a Companion Pass, they have to designate a specific person to be their companion. The customer, however, can decide to change their designated companion and request a new companion card up to three times each calendar year.

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