On January 1 with no notice given, Southwest made qualifying for its Companion Pass a more difficult. After much negative feedback from customers, Southwest has temporarily delayed the change until March 31, 2017.
As a reminder, the Companion Pass lets you choose one person to fly free with you every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight. To qualify for the pass, you need to earn 110,000 Qualifying Points in a calendar year. You could do that by transferring points from a hotel loyalty program like Marriott Rewards. Southwest decided to immediately disqualify points from hotel transfers.
This change with no notice angered Southwest’s most loyal customers. Many had already transferred points from credit card programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott–or worse, purchased points–intending to use them to qualify for the Companion Pass at the start of the new year.
Southwest has temporarily relented and released the following statement:
As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.
In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.
Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.
To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.
We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!
It’s one thing to make changes to customer loyalty programs. It’s another thing entirely to do so with no notice like Southwest did, and timing the change to negatively impact the most customers. Southwest has done the right thing by reversing course, and effectively providing notice of the change.
HT: The Points Guy