Can you imagine the fun—and the savings—if you could always bring one person with you for free on every single flight you take? While several airlines offer one-time companion passes that grant a free flight to the accompanying person of your choosing, there’s one airline who offers a companion pass that’s good for up to two years: Southwest.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
Ever heard the term BOGO (Buy One Get One)? “Normally, it means I’m getting an extra jar of spaghetti sauce,” says Scott Lieberman, managing editor of Million Mile Secrets, a website that helps readers save on travel using miles and points. “But incredibly, BOGO also applies to Southwest Airlines.”
With the Southwest Companion Pass, whenever you buy a flight, either with points or cash, your companion gets one free (aside from the mandatory government security fee of $5.60 per person per way). “The Southwest Companion Pass is simply the best deal in travel,” Lieberman says, noting the pass is good from the time you earn it until the end of the following year.
Yep, earn it. The catch is that this pass can’t be bought. To get a coveted Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll need to either fly 100 one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points, which may be collected in a variety of ways.
But there is a shortcut
The simplest method to earning all those points, Lieberman says, is to sign up for two Southwest credit cards when they have bonus offers of 50,000–60,000 Southwest points after spending at least $2,000–$3,000 within three months. “By signing up for just two cards and meeting the minimum spend with your everyday expenses, you can automatically qualify for a companion pass,” Lieberman says. “Plus, you’ll have 110,000 points that you can use to book free travel for yourself and also bring your companion free.” (Don’t miss these other tips for using credit card rewards to save on your vacation.)
Other ways to earn the points needed for the pass include additional spending on the Southwest cards, online shopping in Southwest’s shopping portal, eating at participating restaurants through their dining program, booking hotels at SouthwestHotels.com, or even tying your utility bill to your Southwest loyalty account.
“The real magic of the companion pass comes when you fly often,” says Lieberman. “If you want to fly to Europe, Asia, or somewhere Southwest doesn’t fly, other miles might be more valuable to you. But absolutely nothing beats the Southwest Companion Pass for zipping around the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean with a friend or loved one.”
Even if you don’t fly Southwest, there are still ways to save money on your getaways. Check out these secrets to traveling cheap, according to travel agents.