Through tomorrow 6/14 @ 11:59pm pacific time, Southwest is running a big fare sale with one-way fares as low as $49. This covers travel between Aug 13 and Nov 14. It’s also important to mention that there are some blackout dates and travel on Friday and Sunday do not qualify. Since Southwest point values tie directly to fare prices, this means that this is an award sale too! Here’s an example of a 2,280 point one-way. Amazing.
I’m not a big Southwest guy myself but this is a pretty compelling value. And if you have a Southwest Companion Pass (CP), you can book these low fares and bring along that special person. 4,560 points for a quick round-trip to Dallas or Tampa Bay or Houston sounds great. Bringing along a second person for free sounds fantastic. Take a look at your city… Minneapolis has a few options!
Unfortunately, I just don’t have much I can book at the moment to take advantage of this but the gears are turning…
Should I go for the Southwest Companion Pass?
Now, just talking out loud here… I realized I’m potentially sitting right at the edge of picking up the Companion Pass. What’s the CP you ask? It’s a pass that allows someone to bring a companion along on any Southwest trip they fly, even if that ticket is booked with points. If I qualified today, it’d apply to all Southwest flights I fly until 12/31/2013. One has to earn 110k CP Qualifying Points in a year to get it. 2 friends have picked it up via credit cards (a strategy that got tougher now that the Southwest sign-up bonuses have been reduced).
Little by little, I’ve picked up ~4k Companion Pass Qualifying Points through hotel stays and car rentals credited to Southwest. Not much but I also have ~61k points nearly ready to post from a lot of Sears gift cards we bought. In the past, these have counted but it’s probably best that I wait until they post to Southwest before I make the next move.
Earlier this year, I made a mistake and bought 72,000 Choice points (at a good discount) thinking that I could transfer them to a few friends that were going for the CP. I unfortunately discovered that Choice bans this AND does a name check so I’m left holding the bag… See, I screw up too. If I hold back 6k for a US Air Grand Slam hit, I can still transfer 66k Choice into 19.8k Southwest points. As hotel to airline transfers go, this isn’t too bad.
I also have enough to transfer 16k Wyndham to Southwest, picking up another 4.8k. Again, I’d retain just enough for a couple US Air Grand Slam hits. Both Choice and Wyndham transfers have historically counted toward the companion pass and, by my estimates, transfers to Southwest retain 83% of their value.
That puts me at nearly 93k of the 110k. So, so close now. I happen to have some Marriott points and could transfer 60k from there to 20k Southwest. In the process, I lose about $300 in value (since 60k Marriott is worth about double what 20k Southwest is) but I pick up the Southwest Companion Pass. If Mrs. NF flew once on Southwest for free with me, it’d probably be about even. Each time she flies with me after that for free is even better. We’ve also been doing more quick weekend trips this year and these could be very useful, especially with the ability to book one-ways. Worth it?
Here’s where I always end up struggling: I’m a Delta Diamond and, well, I like it! The CP is a great value but it means I’ll be missing out on upgrades, priority security, etc. I won’t even have assigned seating on Southwest! Oh no! 😉
I’ll probably do it after the points from the Sears purchases post. Now…since Southwest allows cancellations of award tickets, I wonder if I can find a cheap fare to use today or tomorrow for a quick trip. And then if I get the CP, I’ll add the Mrs. NF for free. It’s really too bad that Friday and Sunday are excluded from this fare sale.