About once a year, a travel promotion comes along that is too good to be true. From Iberia miles at 0.3 cents each to free top-tier matched Hyatt status, these deals are the holy grail of travel hacking. But the returns from such promotions are usually the result of unintended consequences from a company that didn’t consider how creative miles and points experts can be.
Not this time. In the face of COVID, airlines are desperate for butts in seats. Southwest Airlines is transparently offering a deal that may get some of those reluctant travelers back to the skies: Register for the promotion and buy a flight from September 22 to 24 and fly between September 22 and November 15 and you’ll earn a companion pass valid from January 6 to February 28, 2021.
The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best travel deals out there. When you have one, you can take a companion on any Southwest flight with an available seat for only the cost of taxes and fees. And this applies whether you book your ticket with cash or with Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
The pass should arrive in your email inbox within 10 days after the promotional travel period ends on November 15, 2020. There’s a remarkable lack of fine print on this promotion: Taxes are your responsibility ($5.60 within the U.S., varies for International) and you can change your companion up to three times. Registration is required.
Consider This a Free Sample
Southwest is known for its generous policies including 2 free checked bags and free changes and cancellations, but it is still a business. The airline isn’t doing this without a motive: Southwest wants to introduce customers to the Companion Pass while simultaneously re-introducing skittish flyers to the idea of air travel.
The Companion Pass is known to be among the most lucrative deals in travel for those who maximize it. You normally have to earn 125,000 Rapid Rewards points through a combination of travel and/or credit card spending and welcome bonuses to earn the pass. However, once you have it in hand, the Companion Pass is good for travel for the remainder of the year you’re in plus the entire next year.
Is a Promotion Enough?
Whether customers will line up for air travel, even if it’s free or heavily discounted, remains to be seen. Southwest has some of the most comprehensive anti-COVID policies in the industry including a commitment to keep middle seats open until at least November 30, 2020. Those who are willing to travel might be more likely to consider Southwest Airlines both now and in the future with the Companion Pass offer.
But if you’re skittish about travel in general, no amount of freebies may be enough to justify leaving your home, getting to the airport, traversing security and boarding a metal tube with 100 other passengers for an extended period of time. For those people the best travel is no travel at all.
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