Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Southwest Airlines Frequent Flyer Program: Is it Right for Me? March 3, 2011

I think I have been confused just as the next person...or even more...regarding Southwest's new frequent flyer program, so I crunched the numbers to see if I should move some of my business elsewhere.

Under the Old Program
  • 16 credits = 1 Standard Award Ticket
  • 32 credits = 1 Freedom Award Ticket
  • 1 car rental = generally, 0.5 credit, therefore 32 car rentals (32 x 0.5) = 1 Standard Award Ticket

Under the New Program
  • est 20,280* points = 1 lower end transcontinental flight
  • est 10,680* points = 1 lower end short haul flight
  • 1 car rental = 600 points
 *Actual points do vary.

New Program Awards and Renting Cars
  1. Under the new program, I would have to rent 34 car rentals for a lower end transcontinental award ticket.
  2.  Under the new program, I would have to rent 18 car rentals for a lower end short haul award ticket.

Winners and Losers
  1. The new Southwest frequent flyer program benefits someone who rents cars frequently and flies short haul often.
  2. The loser of the new Southwest frequent flyer program is someone who flies short haul frequently but wants transcontinental award tickets.

Almost No Changes
For those renting vehicles frequently, there is not that much difference between the old program and the new program.

Under the old program, 32 car rentals = 1 Standard Award ticket, while the new program requires 34 car rentals for a low end transcontinental award ticket.

No Changes
  1. Southest's Bags Fly Free policy still stands with certain baggage limitations.  United generally charges $25 for the 1st bag and $35 for the 2nd bag on domestic flights each way.  Advantage:  Southwest by $120
  2. No change fee.  I believe United charges $150 to change many tickets.  Advantage:  Southwest by $150

My Conclusion
I am going to have a lot less transcontinental award tickets from now on.  :(

1 comment:

  1. If they had a lounge (like the Red Carpet Club) I would fly Southwest much more often. When I was traveling a lot, having the Red Carpet Club for a relaxing place with free wifi made a huge difference.