“How do you travel so much?” is a question my boyfriend and I get often. Let me just say, we owe a VERY big thank you to Southwest! Last year they had a promo: open their credit card, make one purchase, and get the companion pass for a year! In addition, my boyfriend opened their business credit card and “Voila!” we scored the companion pass for two years! Unfortunately, that promo is no longer valid. However, there are a couple other ways to earn the pass. Check out the Southwest Companion Pass Post by The Points Guy where he breaks down exactly how you can earn it. The Points Guy is my go-to for all things travel points/miles related (ie. conversions, credit cards, special perks).
Now, let me back up a little bit. I get so excited about the Southwest Companion Pass sometimes, I forget the basics. If I’ve missed any of your questions, feel free to email me or DM via Instagram.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass is my biggest key to traveling on a budget. It allows a traveler to book an extra ticket for his/her companion, through the end of the pass terms, essentially free. So basically, 2 for 1 plane tickets to anywhere Southwest flies (yes, even international).
Now, what does “essentially free” mean? Basically, your base fare ticket price is free, any fees, taxes, etc. must still be paid. Flights can be booked either with cash or points (ie all those SW points you received from opening their credit card).
What are the benefits of the Southwest Companion Pass?
In short, 2 for 1 plane tickets, aka, a LOT of saved $$. You and your named companion can travel anywhere Southwest flies for the price of one ticket. Unfortunately, Southwest’s reputation hasn’t quite caught up to it’s current value. Many people think of Southwest as extremely limited in destination options. However, Southwest now services most major domestic airports and has a nice collection of international airports as well (ie Cancun, Cabo, Mexico City, Aruba, Belize, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, etc). And while those travelers who are west coast based (especially CA) will benefit the most, you can’t beat 2 for 1 plane tickets to both domestic and international destinations.
But, I never fly Southwest. Is it still worth it?
YES!!! You’re getting 2 for 1 plane tickets. How could it not be worth it? I’ve found oftentimes, that even though SW may be more expensive when compared ticket to ticket with another airline, when you take into consideration the 2 for 1 price, it has ALWAYS come out less expensive than buying two tickets on another airline. The only way I would say it isn’t worth it, is if you don’t plan on going anywhere SW flies (ie Europe, Asia, etc) or are based somewhere without a SW terminal. But, even if that is the case, think of the Southwest Companion Pass as a way to encourage you to visit cities you otherwise never would have!
I’ve heard Southwest is a budget carrier who boards “cattle call.” That’s not really my style. Still worth it?
Trust me, this was my first reaction too when my boyfriend told me he was going to get the companion pass. Visions of fighting people for a seat and being stressed out during the entire pre and post flight experience had me not too excited for this perk. I’ve now been flying SW almost exclusively for about a year and it’s one of my favorite airlines for domestic and short international travel.
First off, I am California based, so I can’t beat the SW flash sales. This upcoming weekend the BF and I are flying to OAK from SNA for our trip to Napa. It was $140 roundtrip (that’s $70 roundtrip each on a holiday weekend). It’s absolutely unbeatable!
Secondly, people may view SW as a budget airline, but in my eyes, it’s anything but. SW’s lowest fare “Wanna Get Away,” not only includes two checked bags, a carry-on, and a personal item, but it also gives you the ability to cancel your reservation free AND receive SW credit that is good for a year! We primarily do weekend trips, so we’re typically able to get away with just a carry-on. However, when we do our international trips, it’s nice to know we can check a bag at no cost! It is also great to know we can book far in advance to lock in a rate, and if our plans change, there’s no hassle or charge to change or cancel our flights. To top it off, if your flight price drops anytime after you book, you can request a refund in credit for difference in price! You better believe I check all upcoming flight prices at least once a day! I’ve gotten back over $100 in credit doing this which has gone towards future flights.
Lastly, the dreaded SW boarding procedure. Surprise of the day….it’s actually my favorite airline to board! I cannot stand normal plane boarding. People crowding around the boarding area before their group is called is completely anxiety inducing. With SW it’s simple. Check in 24 hours in advance to receive your boarding number (you and your companion will check in separately). SW will have numbered stations (ie 1-50) and the boarding group letter (A,B,C) they are serving will be shown at the top. So, If I am B23, I wait until the letter group says B and I line up at number 23. Once you board the plane, you can choose from whatever seats are open. My BF and I have never had a problem getting seats next to each other, and a few times we’ve even had the whole row to ourselves. If you absolutely need to be one of the first people to board the plane, just pay a little extra for their “Early Bird Check-In.”
Who really benefits from the Southwest Companion Pass?
Basically, anyone who travels anywhere SW flies and who has a consistent travel partner will benefit. Obviously, the most common travel partners are going to be couples. Just this year my BF and I have traveled to Cancun, Cabo, San Francisco, Chicago, and we have Napa, Austin, and Mexico City booked. Our points covered every last one of the these roundtrips except Mexico City. We only had to pay cash for our return ticket, and again, it was 2 for 1.
While couples are the most common when thinking about the SW Companion Pass, friends who often travel together and parents can benefit as well. In a family of four, if each parent has the companion pass, both kids fly free. It’s a great way to give your family the gift of travel without breaking the bank. Keep in mind you can also change your companion up to three times per calendar year.
My favorite use of the companion pass is weekend get aways. I took my BF to Cabo for his birthday this year and we stayed Friday to Sunday. I never would have done such a short international trip had we each paid full price for a ticket. However, the tickets were extremely cheap to begin with, and add on the 2 for 1 deal, it made the trip a complete steal! When we get bored of Orange County and want a weekend getaway, the SW Companion Pass allows us to explore so many new destinations at a fraction of the normal travel price.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” -Unknown