My family has gotten so much value out of those miles. Here are 5 reasons why I love Southwest Airlines.
1. Companion Pass
Because I earned over 110,000 qualifying miles in one calendar year, Southwest awarded me a companion pass in June 2013 that expires at the end of 2014. I chose my husband as my companion, so he flies for free with me whenever I fly on Southwest. I can fly using cash or miles, and he can still fly with me for free. What a deal!
Before my companion pass expires, my husband will have traveled with me for free on 3 round-trip vacations (twice to Florida and once to New York). His tickets for these trips would have cost us around $700 cash.
2. Low Mileage Rewards
Southwest does not have a standard mileage reward chart like most other airlines. The miles required to redeem for free travel depend on the price of the ticket and the type of fare. The Wanna Get Away fares are the cheapest seats and stretch your Rapid Rewards the farthest. While most domestic airlines (like American, Delta and United) charge 12,500 miles for a one-way ticket within the U.S. (or 25,000 miles round-trip), you can get many Southwest flights for much fewer miles.
For example, I just booked a flight on Southwest from Dallas to Denver for 4819 Rapid Reward miles. The same flight would have cost 12,500 miles or more on most other domestic airlines.
Our upcoming anniversary trip to New York City cost approximately 18,000 Rapid Reward miles round-trip, and that is the cost for my husband and me combined! This trip would have been 50,000 miles or more on American Airlines for 2 round-trip tickets.
My 120,000 Southwest miles have provided us free tickets for 2 different round-trip vacations to Florida (for my entire family of 5!), an anniversary trip to New York City, and a ticket to Colorado for my parents' 50th anniversary. I still have enough miles left over for a one-way ticket to visit a friend in January. Crazy! The tickets to Florida (2 trips) for my family of 5 would have cost 250,000 miles on American or United. In total, we got over $2500 in free tickets from these miles.
|Riding to the baggage claim at our favorite airport (Orlando)|
3. No Change Fees
Southwest doesn't charge any fees for changing your flight, whether you bought your flight with cash or miles. Most other airlines charge $200 if you have to change or cancel your flight. Southwest also lets you get credit or miles back if your flight goes down in price. You can use the credit toward another flight within a year.
This free change policy has really come in handy for us over the past year. On our first trip to Florida on Southwest miles, I saw that our flights had gone down in points since I originally booked them. I was able to re-book us on miles at the lower price, and the miles I saved were instantly redeposited back into my account.
On our next Florida trip, I changed our return flight twice because we kept changing our minds when we wanted to return. Each time I changed our flight, the price was cheaper and I got points refunded.
|Southwest at Dallas Love Field airport|
4. No baggage fees
Southwest has no baggage fees for the first 2 bags per person. This is huge, no matter if you are flying on a cash ticket or a miles ticket. We usually bring 3 suitcases for our family of 5, so this saves us about $150 per trip in baggage fees.
|Free! All of them.|
5. One-way flights
Most airlines allow you to book one-way flights, but on some major airlines the cost is sometimes almost as much as a round-trip ticket. Southwest has reasonable one-way flights and does not require round-trip tickets on cash or points. I didn't fully appreciate this until I tried to book tickets on Delta Skymiles, which allowed one-way tickets but they cost the same as round-trip tickets!
Inexpensive one-way flights are also convenient if you are running low on miles and you need to book one way with miles and the way back with cash.
|One-way to Denver International Airport|
I know that Southwest is not the most glamorous airline, and it does not have assigned seating or fancy food. But it is such a good value on miles and points to get from point A to point B. Because of these 120,000 Southwest miles, the cost of flights was taken out of the equation for our vacation budget and we can afford to travel more.
Southwest--do you love it as much as I do?
PS--Southwest is not currently offering the 50,000 bonus cards, but it is likely to offer them again before the end of the year.
PPS--I do not work for Southwest. :)