Is the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass still worth it in 2023?


Southwest Airlines has had a rough couple of weeks to put it mildly. Some will swear off the airline with the emotions of ruined holiday celebrations still fresh and questions still lingering about which expenses Southwest will reimburse and the rollout of 25K apology points per passenger being very rocky (with many not receiving the points or not able to redeem them because the website appears to be in a constant state of overload). There is no doubt that the major holiday meltdown of 2022 will be remembered for many years to come — but eventually, I imagine that this, too, shall pass — and when it does, will the Southwest Companion Pass still be the best deal in domestic travel? With booming demand for travel and increased prices across the board, will the savings via the Southwest Companion pass increase in 2023?

Southwest Companion Pass without flying

Getting two passengers for the price of one every time you fly, whether on a paid ticket or award ticket, even when the primary passenger’s ticket is paid for with someone else’s miles, has long been a no-brainer massive value for anyone who can accept Southwest’s boarding process / lack of assigned seats.

Given what I expect will continue to be increased demand for domestic travel in 2023,  I wanted to revisit methodology for my 2020 comparison, my 2021 comparison, and my 2022 comparison to answer the question, “Is the Southwest Companion Pass still worth it in 2023?”. The answer is yes – at least on paper. Your answer may certainly be different.

You only get value out of it if you use it (but you can count it every time)

The primary focus of this post is the comparative value of the Southwest Companion Pass as opposed to booking award flights on the other major US carriers.

The decision about whether a Companion Pass makes sense for you starts with how much you’ll use it. For the latter half of the last decade, we used our Companion Pass many times each year, getting tons of value out of it. Unfortunately, the past few years were a different story thanks to the pandemic; we also had a Companion Pass in my household during 2020 and 2021 and we didn’t get to use it a single time thanks to the pandemic. Despite any calculation within this post, keep in mind that the true value of the Companion Pass to you depends on how much you can use it.

The good news is that once you have a Southwest Companion Pass, you can count on using it every time. Unlike many elite benefits, there aren’t many terms and conditions and you don’t have to hope to get lucky enough to use it: if there is a seat available for sale for your Companion, even if the fare is far more expensive than the one you originally booked, you can add your companion for free. For those who can use this benefit often, it can be huge.

For more details about earning the Companion Pass and how it works, see our Southwest Companion Pass Complete Guide.

Advantages of Southwest (diminished)

From the outset, Southwest has some advantages that have made it attractive as compared to American, Delta, and United. Flexibility is one of the things I value most highly in my travel plans and Southwest offers the ultimate flexibility: award tickets can be cancelled up to about 10 minutes before departure for no penalty (I think the closest I’ve ever actually cut this is about 30 minutes before). If you book an award ticket, you can cancel up to shortly before departure and immediately get your points back and request a refund of the taxes to your credit card (though you do need to specify that you’d like a refund of the taxes rather than having them held as a credit for future travel). If you booked a cash ticket, you can similarly cancel up until just before departure and you’ll get a credit that doesn’t expire.

That used to make Southwest really stand out because in past years you would have needed elite status with the other major carriers to get that kind of flexibility. However, the pandemic has changed things on that front, with many airlines eliminating change and cancellation fees. You can (at least in many cases) get similar flexibility with the major carriers, so Southwest’s competitive advantage has been eroded from that perspective.

Still, one particular advantage of the Companion Pass benefit is that it works on both paid and award tickets. This means that you can add your companion for just the taxes (usually $5.60 one-way within the US, more for international destinations) whether you paid for your ticket on your credit card, you used your Rapid Rewards points, your company bought your ticket, or great aunt Suzy used her Rapid Rewards points to buy your ticket. That’s been a nice deal in two-player mode since (for example) you could use the companion’s rapid rewards points to book a ticket for the primary traveler and then add the companion for free.

Another advantage that could be huge for those who pack heavy is that Southwest includes two free checked bags per passenger. While you might be able to get one free checked bag by having the right credit card with the other airlines, you’ll always get two with Southwest. You’ll also always get a free carry-on — there is no basic economy.

A final strength of the Companion Pass in terms of award travel has long been that it is possible to get a great deal when planning far in advance. While the other major loyalty programs traditionally charged 12,500 miles each way for a domestic economy class ticket, Southwest has long had a more revenue-based program. This has meant that I have scored tickets to fly across the country more than once for fewer than 10,000 points one way. With the Companion Pass, that works out to less than 5,000 points per passenger. For a transcontinental flight, that was a steal for many years.

Pressure from the big guys

However, what was long a steal just isn’t as obvious anymore. The domestic award travel landscape has changed pretty dramatically over the past couple of years (even before the pandemic), thanks to the following four things:

  1. It is possible to book United domestic awards via Turkish Miles & Smiles for 7.5K each way (and you can once again buy online)
  2. American Airlines has gone to dynamic pricing with frequent web specials from 5K each way
  3. Delta has continued dynamic pricing and increased the frequency of flash sales from 10K (or sometimes even less) round trip
  4. United has also gone to dynamic pricing, with some flights available for as few as 4K miles each way.

Each of these points comes with its caveats (Turkish can be hard to book, AA web specials are restrictive, Delta’s best prices are for basic economy), but they are hard to ignore. While Southwest enthusiasts will rightly point to the fact that Southwest award tickets offer more predictable value compared to the cash price (whereas dynamic pricing on the other major carriers can be truly dynamic rather than always revenue-based), the fact is that there are now opportunities to book domestic awards for competitive rates on the major carriers. Add in the fact that close-in travel with Southwest is likely to cost an exorbitant number of points whereas a domestic United saver award could be just 7,500 miles through Turkish whether booked 3 months in advance or 3 days in advance (if you can successfully book it) and taken on the whole there is an argument to be made for the major carriers if you want to be able to plan or change flights close to the date of travel.

How useful you find AA’s economy web specials or the Turkish sweet spot will obviously depend on where you’re based and prefer to fly, but the bottom line is that Southwest no longer enjoys the huge advantage in terms of award cost that it once did.


As I said in the original version of this post in 2020, and in the follow-up in 2021 and 2022, I am not a computer programmer, so I’m relying on old fashioned searches to compare one city pair at a time. However, I wanted to revisit my quick comparison to take a look at the value of the companion pass for travel for two people versus simply being diversified in terms of having points in various programs.

My methodology is unchanged: I searched from five airports – my “home” airport of Albany, NY (both because this comparison is useful for me personally and because it represents a smaller market that is served by all of the major carriers), New York City and Los Angeles because of the fact that they represent two major US markets that are kind of “hubs” for everyone, Chicago because it is both a major market and a hub for both Southwest and United, and Dallas as it is both a major market and a hub for both Southwest and American. I searched a random date a few months in advance for travel from these cities to three destinations: Orlando, San Francisco, and Omaha. I picked Orlando and San Francisco in order to have one major destination on each coast and I picked Omaha in order to have one additional destination somewhere in the middle of the country that is served by all the major carriers in order to represent domestic travel to/from a smaller or more mid-sized market.

My sample size here is admittedly tiny. I literally searched one date, I intentionally picked a weekday (since I figured I could count on the lowest saver award availability from the major programs) and I didn’t discriminate in terms of the desirability of connections or anything else. I simply wanted to see whether or not Southwest was still competitive considering dynamic pricing and the current travel landscape. My expectation as I wrote the original version of this post and once again now in 2023 was that Southwest might be better in some instances but behind in others.

Here are my results for one-way travel in total points for two passengers on the cheapest option with each carrier on a random weekday. Note that the Southwest price is the price for one passenger since the Companion Pass makes the second passenger cost 0 additional points whereas the other airlines all show the total mileage price for 2 passengers.

I’ve bolded the cheapest option for two passengers in each instance and noted the margin by which the option was the cheapest. I included both basic economy and main cabin on Delta but used basic economy as the comparison point where relevant. Note that when the price via a partner like Turkish, Air Canada Aeroplan, or Avianca LifeMiles is present, I actually searched to make sure that route was available to be booked for the noted price and I used that price as the comparison point when cheapest.

  1. Albany
    1. To Orlando
      1. American: 19K
      2. Delta: 23K basic / 28K Main
      3. Southwest: 8,808 (best by 10,192 miles)
      4. United: 30K miles (or 25K via Aeroplan)
    2. To San Francisco
      1. American: 25K
      2. Delta: 31K basic / 36K main
      3. Southwest: 15,734 (best by 9,266 miles)
      4. United: 30K
    3. To Omaha
      1. American: 23K
      2. Delta: 38K basic / 46K main
      3. Southwest: 14,036 (best by 5,964 miles)
      4. United: 30K (20K via Aeroplan or LifeMiles)
  2. New York City
    1. To Orlando
      1. American: 15K
      2. Delta: 16K basic / 21K Main
      3. Southwest: 7,319 (best by 181 miles)
      4. United: 30K (20K via Aeroplan or LifeMiles)
    2. To San Francisco
      1. American: 19K
      2. Delta: 23K basic / 30K main
      3. Southwest: 10,407 (best by 8,593)
      4. United: 30K
    3. To Omaha
      1. American: 18K
      2. Delta: 23K basic / 28K main
      3. Southwest: 10,407 (best by 7,593)
      4. United: 30K (or 20K via Aeroplan via LifeMiles)
  3. Chicago 
    1. To Orlando
      1. American: 21K
      2. Delta: 27K basic / 33K main
      3. Southwest: 11,434 (best by 3,566)
      4. United: 30K (or 15K via Turkish)
    2. To San Francisco
      1. American: 25K
      2. Delta: 24K basic / 36K main
      3. Southwest: 12,028 (best by 2,940)
      4. United: 30K (or 15K via Turkish)
    3. To Omaha
      1. American: 31K
      2. Delta: 18K basic / 23K main
      3. Southwest: 8,114 (best by 6,886)
      4. United: 25.2K (or 15K via Turkish)
  4. Dallas
    1. To Orlando
      1. American: 22K
      2. Delta: 27K basic / 33K main
      3. Southwest: 11,434 (best by 8,566)
      4. United: 30K (or 20K Aeroplan)
    2. To San Francisco
      1. American: 18K
      2. Delta: 28K basic / 34K main
      3. Southwest: 11,951 (best by 3,049)
      4. United: 28.6K (or 15K via Tukrish)
    3. To Omaha
      1. American: 25K
      2. Delta: 27K basic / 33K main
      3. Southwest: 9,735 (best by 5,265)
      4. United: 30K (or 15K via LifeMiles)
  5. Los Angeles
    1. To Orlando
      1. American: 25K
      2. Delta: 30K basic / 38K main
      3. Southwest: 7,319 (best by 17,681)
      4. United: 32.6K
    2. To San Francisco
      1. American: 14K
      2. Delta: 9K basic / 12K main
      3. Southwest: 2,632 (best by 6,368)
      4. United: 30K (or 12K via Aeroplan)
    3. To Omaha
      1. American: 25K
      2. Delta: 26K basic / 31K main
      3. Southwest: 10,021 (best by 4,979)
      4. United: 30K (or 15K via Turkish)

Note that the margins included here assume that you value points equally across programs, which certainly may not be the case for you.

The results surprised me yet again. Despite the fact that Southwest ran the table the first time I looked at this and again the second before finally getting unseated on a single itinerary the third year I ran the comparison, I expected that things may have flattened out. This time around, Southwest ran the table again, presenting the best value for two passengers on all 15 route comparisons.

Out of those 15 trips, on average a Southwest Companion Pass would save you 6,739 points over your next best option assuming that you are booking two passengers one-way. That’s an increase of almost 50% over the margin of savings in last year’s comparison. If that average holds up both ways, it would be a savings of more than 13,000 points on a round trip.

What do the results of the above mean?

The results won’t be significant for everyone. Again, the sample size was pretty small. However, I still find it very intriguing that Southwest continues to come out on top in almost every situation. That certainly makes the Southwest Companion Pass appealing on the surface.

As noted in a previous section, it all comes down to how much you’ll use it. If you’ll use the pass a dozen times a year and save more than 80,000 total points/miles, that would certainly be significant enough to make the pass very attractive. On the other hand, if you’ll use it two or three times per year, the potential savings may not move the needle enough. If flying Southwest creates additional compromises — like connecting when you could have flown nonstop or operating out of a less desirable airport — then I think you need to analyze your value closely to be sure you’re getting the deal that you’re imagining.

Keep in mind that timing is everything. The typical strategy of earning a Companion Pass for nearly two full years by timing out credit card applications and minimum spending requirements to earn two welcome bonuses early in the calendar year (like right now) makes a lot of sense to me as it increases the length of time during which you can extract value. If you can earn a Companion Pass that is valid for nearly two years (See our Southwest Companion Pass Complete Guide for more detail), the additional time may add up to more significant savings.

Keep in mind when planning your strategy that each member is now limited to a single personal Southwest credit card every 24 months. It is however possible to get one personal card and one business card. On the business credit card side, the terms only preclude you from the bonus if you have had that particular card in the past 24 months. Note that you do need to be under 5/24 to get approved for a new Southwest card

In my case, the value of the Companion Pass could be questionable because I fly with a family of four. While Southwest beats other airlines handily when booking for two passengers, you can do the math and see that in some instances you’ll save miles by booking via another program if you’re booking for four passengers (particularly if you’re able to book via Turkish). In my case, my family would ordinarily choose to fly Southwest over other options because we prefer Southwest, but your calculations may vary if you’re traveling with additional passengers. Of course, a smart strategy for us could be getting two companion passes so that each of our kids flies for free.

Bottom line

For the fourth year in a row, I ran a comparison for to see how the Southwest Companion Pass stacks up against the competition. I expected that it would not be a runaway win for Southwest ever since dynamic pricing became the norm all of the major carriers. However, my results surprised me yet again because yet again Southwest generally came in well below the competition in terms of pricing for two passengers on an award ticket if you have the Southwest Companion Pass. Assuming Southwest fixes the operational issues that caused the major holiday meltdown of 2022, the Companion Pass is still arguably the best value in domestic travel.

5 3 votes
Post Rating
Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Anyone see the bride who missed her wedding in Belize story? Purportedly, the flight was canceled due to three flight attendants not arriving for duty. The question is: did these flight attendants not report for duty because 1) they were mispositioned due to the meltdown or 2) they simply didn’t show up (a la the Denver rampers)?

There have been various reports of SWA employee absenteeism. Really bad if true.


My own impressions & expectations of Southwest have permanently changed since December. Yes there was extreme weather, but they were also the only carrier not to crawl out from under it in a reasonable amount of time. And their own unique system failures behind it were not even fully comprehended by the Trans Sec himself until this occurred (according to his imterviews).

Their stunning last-quarter losses were announced today. The effects of “only” one awful travel period are extremely far reaching. Their c/s center today cuts off calls with a short recording with no further info given. No small wonder that people who can afford to are putting off contact with SWA as long as possible! But what about those who can’t – who need timely reimbursement for their holiday vacation before they can book their next?

I don’t fly Southwest much anyway, maybe 2-3x/yr (and I am 15 minutes away from a servicing airport). But there will always be that warning in my head now before I book around an especially busy period that other carriers may be better suited to handle my business. For me, SWA’s brand is broken and will take a very long time before it’s not & business as usual.


I was a victim of previous Southwest meltdown in 2021 which was caused by pilots and crews in the middle of negotiations between the unions and the management. So now when the unions blame the airline for the outdated IT, I take it with a grain of salt. I’m not saying it’s not true, I have no idea what’s inside Southwest. But I know unions have to put the blame on management because otherwise it is their members at fault.

Each airline at some point within the last 5 years had a big meltdown. Delta, United, AA. So it’s not unusual. Biggest problem for Southwest is that it happened during Christmas – holidays, people visiting families, high ratio of people traveling for leisure that paid their own money and are more sensitive to disruption than business travelers.

But it’s not Southwest that’s really the issue. The issue is the system that allows the airlines claim that all they owe a passenger is getting from point A to point B at some time. When I buy a ticket, I expect that my source, destination and date remain the same. They should not be able to tell me that they’ll put me in the point B two days later than contracted and they owe me nothing. Even if they pay for the hotel and meals, that does not make me whole. I have a reason why I need to be in point B, not at the hotel in point A or somewhere in the middle. I understand irrops happen but there should be significant monetary consequences that are designed to make passengers whole.

Personally I was lucky AA had better pricing and timing for me. I flew AA on Christmas day and everything went fine. Likely would have a half-ruined vacation if I was on Southwest. But then on the return, AA switched me to another flight, then delayed the new flight, then stranded me in MIA with rebooking a full day late. They didn’t have a meltdown but people get affected on any airline every single day.


I agree that various sorts of airline issues happen every day with every carrier – many I am sure we never hear about (& maybe don’t want to!).

What was unique to those 8 days in December, however, was an apples-to-apples comparison among the major airlines as to how they each handled the same issues. Southwest obviously failed miserably with their IT. And now scrapped flights & reset systems have caused a domino effect with their operations THIS year. Nobody yet knows how long it will take to reimburse the other 25% of displaced travelers, etc. They are hiring contract workers to help deal with the mess.

I guess all this makes me realize THIS is why their fares can be cheaper & why they can afford to offer 2 free bags: they aren’t spending their profits/or been charging enough to update their computer systems…& what else we don’t know about, yet? I can’t even get hold of anybody on the phone yet to discuss online booking irregularities – this all makes me think twice before booking any travel now with SWA.

Because of all of the above, I don’t think what happened in December is a one-&-done for SWA. And with staggering losses, there might be cheaper fares coming to encourage flyers back…but then what? Sounds like big changes ahead to me both with the company & its customer base,


One thing that’s disappointed me for WN is that post-pandemic, there just aren’t as many direct routes (especially with decent times) flying from a similarly smaller airport (MKE). For example, there’s no point in flying WN to places like ATL or LGA when I could otherwise fly direct at a similar-ish price point on a different airline.

We were willing to take a connecting flight pre-pandemic if the times were decent (ie: we can work a full day and then go to the airport), but not so much a fan of a connecting flight that departs at 5:10am ;).


For a long time Southwest was my primary choice for domestic travel, even for paid business travel. Good fares that translated into low points requirements for award, free bags, I had free wifi and A-position due to my paid business travel, crews were nicer than on other airlines, seat pitch is great, and of course CP makes everything cheaper. Flexibility was amazing – refund points if the price goes down, book several options and choose later what to keep.

But things changed. AA is now as flexible as SW. After moving from CA to FL, I’m having trouble finding cheap fares. I need to book for 3 pax so I get only 1/3 off with CP and I’m finding web specials on AA for 3 people substantially cheaper than SW fares for 2.

So this could be geography thing but I’m finding myself on SW less and less.


I went for the Companion Pass challenge last qtr (1 RT flight I had to do for a business conference anyway), good for 2 months. Yesterday, 1.4.23, was the first day to sign-up my Companion/hubs, but their system wasn’t set up to add him. I call and of course can’t get thru with the holiday meltdown still top priority.

Their 2 earlier emails never said it didn’t start til 4 pm, but there it was in an email sent yesterday after some digging. So I finally do that later in the day & then try & book & keep getting error messages.

I can’t find out if I book Wanna Get Away Plus fares if that level also carries over to him? And other questions explained nowhere on the SWA FAQs. 4 hours wasted yesterday. I will let the temp CP expire since it will probably take til March for SWA to get back on track IT-wise & be able to actually reach a live person for help.

Michael Scott

I’m on the second year of my first CP. I feel I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it. It takes a long time to use up 125k points. We are out of Oakland, a SW hub, so it’s great to get to choose from 8-10 non-stop flights to LAS or SoCal every day. Even if we didn’t get another CP next year and used the points for both passengers, that would still represent a lot of value for us and I may not even run out of points. I booked a flight for my sister to fly up from Burbank on 12/24, the flight was cancelled and then I got 25k more points. I have also used the Dining program, which isn’t a lot, but it still adds up. I think it’s great to have the option to get positioning flights. Did you know that 85% of all flights in/out of Oakland are SW flights?


LOL their way over priced at MDW and u can get SHOT going there too.

Last edited 2 months ago by Cavedweller

Positioning flights for what? International award travel?


I live 160 miles from a Southwest served airport. I have never flown Southwest and nothing can make me think that any savings would draw me to use Southwest. Even before the meltdown, there are literally thousands of people who never will fly Southwest for a variety of reasons. As far as I am concerned Southwest could disappear and it would not affect me. Every time I check Southwest fares, they have been more the Big3, using Midway as an origin.

I wish bloggers would consider that you are encouraging the use of an airline that had the biggest service failure of any airline, EVER. This meltdown affected over 1 million travellers. Why would you want to taint your name and reputation? Is it about CC sign ups? Because, Southwest has not done anything to prove that a similar meltdown won’t happen again!


This isn’t the first time Southwest has had IT issues that caused massive cancelations. It happened another time this year and twice last year. That is not even counting actual weather caused cancellation issues. Southwest flight/cabin crews have been begging management to fix these IT issues to no avail. Southwest cannot fix their scheduling/dispatch systems for at least a year. Considering this is a major system upgrade, it could be 24-30 months for it to be completed. From what I have been told, there really isn’t anymore stopgap measures to be taken. What happened over Xmas week can easily happen again. Delta had this same type of meltdown in 2016. They had been operating with a blend of legacy systems from their Northwest merger, plus data center power issues. They fixed the problems and Delta’s dependability is industry leading. But the real cause of these IT issues is Southwest’s management negligence. In my mind, what other issues is Southwest’s management ignoring?

Southwest fares are not the lowest available, with the exception of when they run a sale. There are many times that I have done fare searches and Southwest was the highest cost. Free bags and Companion Pass are tools that Southwest uses to attract customers. Southwest likes to portray themselves as the alternative to legacy carriers. But without interline agreements and a “real” reservation/distribution system, hmm, really what are they?

I used to be a travel agent, for almost 30 years. I would have my clients sign waivers for flying the same day to their cruise departure and not purchasing travel insurance. I would beg my clients to fly to the cruise port the day before their sailing. I also encouraged clients to not fly Southwest, because if their flight is delayed or canceled, they are at the mercy of Southwest. With their only solution of buying another very expensive airline ticket to make their cruise. Once people are presented with the possibilities and their choices to make, they change their minds real fast. But regrettably these past 10 days, thousands of cruise passengers missed their cruises. Many cruise lines tried to wait, delaying departures by a few hours, but when it became evident that the missing passengers were never coming, the ships sailed. Many of these stranded passengers did not purchase trip insurance. They lost their cruise vacation. They lost their holiday with their families. If you think that Southwest is reimbursing those lost cruise costs, well I have a bridge I can sell you!

Competition? The network carriers brought out basic economy to compete with Spirit and Allegiant. Many times, Southwest is more costly than the network carriers. BE has been a savior for Southwest. Spirit, Frontier, Allegiant and sometimes JetBlue are the true low-cost carriers, not Southwest. Plus, there are risks to using a LCC and people need to know them. Hopefully this past 2 weeks will cause many changes. The government needs to intervene to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to any passenger, again.

Safety, how do you gloss over the millions and millions of dollars that Southwest has been fined by the FAA for doing improper repairs and/or improper maintenance documentation. This has been another on going issue with Southwest. This is the one that bugs me the most. You see I also worked at an airline for 36 years. If anyone in AC maintenance did these things that Southwest has done, heads would roll. And that is the real issue at Southwest! No one is terminated! No one is held accountable for all these issues! But, hey, Southwest has Companion Pass and saves me xxxx dollars a year… 


Interesting perspective about safety. I don’t have the statistics nor details about this. But Southwest is the biggest domestic carrier, has been flying for over 50 years and never had a fatal accident.


2018. Southwest Airlines plane’s engine explodes; 1 passenger dead


Yeah, but
1 – the plane did not crash
2 – it was a fault of engine manufacturer and Southwest actually followed their test guidelines after the previous similar issue in 2016

So I’m not sure how anyone can blame Southwest for this


The plane made an emergency landing on one engine, after depressurization. The passenger who died was partially sucked out of the aircraft and died of blunt force trauma. The incident was caused by engine fan blade separation due to metal fatigue. That happened in April 2018.

But that there was another Southwest flight with a different aircraft that had a similar fan blade incident in August of 2016. The earlier incident caused the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency to require that fan blades on that engine type be x-rayed for signs of fatigue.

In 2005, a Southwest aircraft overran the runway at Midway, Chicago, IL. The pilot failed to use thrust reversers properly. The aircraft ran onto a local street hitting vehicles and killing a child in a vehicle.

Southwest has been fined many times for improper fuselage repairs. The issue here, is Southwest aircraft average more pressurization cycles than other airlines. Take off, pressurization, depressurization, and landing is one cycle. This is in addition to actual flight hours. Southwest averages 5.5 flights per day, for each aircraft. Legacy carriers barely average 3.5 flights per day, per aircraft. Southwest has many newer aircraft that bring down their fleet averages for age of aircraft. But that doesn’t change the fact that maintenance on older aircraft has to be performed and documented.


This is Southwest’s attitude:

“Seriously? We’ll be fine, we’ve melted down plenty of times before.

We’ll do what we always do and run a $49 sale and they’ll all forget about this in a month and everyone will be back.

It’s literally like this every time.

Watch, they will not care.”

I know it is all dollars and cents to you. But your readers need to know that flying Southwest or any other LCC, has limitations that could affect their trip. For a million Southwest passengers this holiday, they learned the hard way.

If you did not have Companion Pass, would the equation be the same for you? Because most Southwest flyers don’t have Companion Pass, and the same is probably true for most of your readers.


This is not Southwest’s attitude. This is airline industry attitude. In fact, this is most companies’ attitude.

I’m not saying it’s good attitude but it’s clearly working for most businesses and while it is working, it is not going to change. In the airline industry it is more exaggerated due to limited competition and their protections from the Deregulation Act.


this is a well-written reply


“On Thursday, the largest U.S. domestic airline promised a thorough review of the operational collapse after a union leader blamed its outdated scheduling system and said the carrier had not identified how to avoid a repeat.“


As long as Southwest continues to so utterly dominate intra-California flying, the companion pass will have value for me.

Their pandemic recovery has tested my patience several times now (even this meltdown notwithstanding), but for those of us that bounce between Norcal and Socal frequently, the choice is often Take It or Leave It.

Last edited 2 months ago by Joe

I agree it remains worth it, we’ll hopefully be knocking that out later this month. But I also agree that the calculations are not so simple. I’ve often (usually?) seen that a single SW ticket is more than competitors, so that SW becomes worth flying only with the CP. For instance, we’re planning to fly to Kauai for Spring Break, we grabbed SW tix for 25K and 30K each way – no availability via Turkish, but regular United has 22.5K availability. So SW is only better because CP. (We are a bag-checking family, but 4 checked bags are more than enough – so 1 per person is enough, no need for 2.)

And it’s also very true that there are compromises. For instance, we’d much prefer ORD to MDW – but that would mean two separate tickets for some IT reason (I believe they can’t handle an overnight connection). It’s hard to calculate the value of the CP because it’s hard to quantify that.

Joseph Giorgianni

My wife and I have used our Companion Passes for years. I’ve been retired for six years and she is retiring tomorrow so more getaways coming up.


Data automation not only increases your company’s efficiency but also ensures that you have all of the necessary information at your fingertips in real-time.

Create and manage<a href=””> Data Automation </a>


There’s the economics of the Companion Pass and then there’s the experience of flying SWA.

Some people joke about Delta’s SkyPesos . . . well, SWA has RapidPesos. So, maybe we reframe the question: Is SWA worth it without the Companion Pass? No. With the Companion Pass, SWA is absolutely a player (economically).

But, then there’s the experience. Each person has to decide for themselves. Over the years, I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with SWA. Given recent events, even the favorable economics of the Companion Pass are not enough to overcome the experience.


Sorry to say I agree I flew back from Cayman with a SW tech couple (fixing stuff) a few years ago. Telling me how smart they are and SW will be flying to HNL within a few months..Well years later they did and their Tech SUCKs now..V Bernie


In our case the companion pass makes total sense still. Summer trip this year to Maui will save us close to $500. We’re based in SLC and do much of our flying to California and Hawaii, the nonstop California trips can be very cheap before companion pass.

The pandemic, while bad for heavy travel, still saw some California flying for us. But it was great for qualifying for companion pass at lower requirements. Yesterday we met spend on our next two cards so we’ll be companion pass again on our next billing statement.

When it’s easy to qualify for via credit cards, when you get even just a few trips of value, and when you still fly other carriers it’s still very much worth it. Earning it so easily means we increase our ability to get a good deal while still playing the field.

Tony Stuppnig

Hi Nick, thanks to your guidance on your CP strategy to earn one early in the year with a personal and business card, I’ve met the spending requirements on both cards this week! As they say, it’s all about the timing! Being retired, I look forward to getting outsized value for the next two years thanks to you! . Thanks for all you do!


And even if, somehow, a 2 for 1 deal was matched by the other airlines, bags are still free so if you aren’t doing carryon’s, you are saving a bunch there.


Most people get checked bags free via the airline’s credit card or their status with the airline. I have not paid for bags except when AA screws up and for some reason the record doesn’t show that I paid for my ticket with the Citi AA card. Which AA is currently getting a class action lawsuit for this very action.


Hmm, most people? Before pandemic (I think in 2018) US airlines collected over 5 billion dollars in baggage fees. Baggage fees are also not subject to certain taxes so it’s more profitable for airlines to say decrease ticket price by $30 and collect $30 in baggage fees.


In 2021, the US airlines carried 674 million passengers. Southwest has 22% of market share. Reducing the 674 million by 22% is 525 million passengers for all the other carriers. Using your $5 billion checked bag revenue number, even with different year’s passenger numbers (pre-pandemic) that divides out to $9.52 per passenger. NO where close to a majority of passengers are paying for bags. The passengers paying for checked bags number needs to be closer to $30, which is the average checked bag cost. If 525 million passengers paid for bags the revenue would be around $15 billion dollars. Boy the airlines would love that, but that isn’t what the reality is….so, somewhere in the ballpark of 2/3rds of passengers do not pay for checked bags.

Last edited 2 months ago by JohnB

Flying to Cancun in February, Aruba in March, Florida in April, and Aruba in May. Companion pass is saving my wife and I over 225, 000 points. Hell ya still worth having.Southwest has its issues but still the Best deal out there, no one else even come close.

Go Bucket Yourself Chris

Totally agree. I have great options out of Denver and Companion Pass is the easiest yes every 2 years when me or P2 get it.
All the debates about Hilton or Marriott status, those are real debates to me; not this one.