Southwest eliminates RR points expiration, increases Companion Pass qualification

This past week, Southwest announced the following changes to their Rapid Rewards program:

No more expiration for Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Following the heels of United, which eliminated mileage expiration last month, Southwest Rapid Rewards Points will now never expire.  Previously, Southwest RR points expired after 24 months of account inactivity.

Increased Companion Pass eligibility from 110,000 to 125,000 points

Beginning January 1, 2020, Southwest will increase the eligibility requirements for their legendary Companion Pass from 110,000 to 125,000 points.  The Southwest Companion Pass allows the primary account holder to fly with any companion for free (plus taxes and fees) for the entire year on any paid flight or booked with points with no restrictions.  What's great about becoming eligible for this benefit is that bonus points earned from all their co-branded credit cards like the 60k Southwest Priority card and the 80k Performance Business card all count towards the now 125,000-point requirement.

Taxes and fees for free same-day standby

Beginning on January 1, 2021, which is far advanced notice, passengers taking advantage of free same-day standby will be responsible for any additional government taxes and fees that may apply.  Free same-day standby and free changes/cancellations in general have been the hallmark of Southwest.  I presume Southwest is making this minor change as government taxes and fees usually only increase over time in the airline industry, so this is Southwest's way of passing on any additional fees to the passenger, which is not unreasonable.  I don't think this change will have that much of a financial impact on passengers as you'd essentially only be responsible for any difference in government taxes and fees between what you already paid and what the new flight's fees would be.

Bottom line

The airline industry is always changing, and we've already seen carriers like United Airlines take dramatic steps in revamping their elite program for the next calendar year.  To Southwest's credit, these changes, while being good and bad, are relatively minor, and they're giving sufficient advance notice particularly for the same-day standby additional fees.  You can read up in detail regarding their changes here.


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