Southwest Airlines Announces Updates to Rapid Rewards Program
Southwest Airlines is making some changes to its popular Rapid Rewards Program.
About the changes:
First, the airline plans to reduce the number of flights required to achieve A-List status. Starting January 1st, Southwest Rapid Rewards Members will only need to fly at least 20 one-way qualifying flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points to reach A-List. Previously, the threshold was set at 25 qualifying one-way flights. Similarly, earning A-List Preferred status will now require 40 one-way qualifying flights instead of the previous 50. Alternatively, customers can still earn 70,000 tier qualifying points to reach A-List Preferred status,
In addition to those status updates, those with Southwest Rapid Rewards co-branded credit cards from Chase will be able to earn more tier qualifying points. Starting next year, for every $5,000 Rapid Rewards Premier, Premier Business, Priority, or Performance Business cardholders spend on their cards, they’ll receive 1,500 tier qualifying points. Previously, these points were earned for every $10,000 in spending on eligible cards.
Finally, Southwest will soon give flyers more options when it comes to redeeming points for flights. Beginning in spring of 2024, Rapid Rewards Members will be able to book flights using a mix of points and cash. However, customers will need to redeem at least 1,000 points in order to use this feature.
Southwest’s loyalty program updates — including lowering the threshold for A-Tier — come on the heels of Delta controversially revamping its SkyMiles program. Not only does Delta currently plan to base its statuses on Medallion Qualifying Dollars but also hiked the requirements across the board. In response to the backlash, CEO Ed Bastian has admitted that the airline probably went too far and said that adjustments would likely be made. In the meantime, other carriers including Alaska and JetBlue have unveiled special status matching opportunities for Delta elites in a bid to woo them away from Atlanta’s airline.
What they’re saying:
In a press release, Southwest’s VP of Marketing Jonathan Clarkson stated, “We’re making our award-winning Rapid Rewards program even stronger, by adding new enhancements to our loyalty program, making it even easier for Members to earn and enjoy their benefits. By lowering the tier requirements and making credit card spend count double toward tier requirements, we’re able to deepen engagement with our brand and cobranded credit cards, while maintaining the core program values that our Customers know and love—including unlimited reward seats, no blackout dates, and points that don’t expire.”
Admittedly, I don’t fly Southwest very often since they don’t service my home airport. But, as an outsider, I can’t find any drawbacks with these updates. Personally, I’m most interested in the ability to book using both points and cash — although the final verdict on that feature will depend on the value points are assigned when using a mixture of currencies.
If there is a downside to Southwest’s announcement I’d love to hear what it is. Otherwise, I’ll continue assuming these updates are an all around win.