By Cami Sauder
Wanting to travel more in retirement? Maybe you’re almost retired or maybe you’re already there.
Either way, the Southwest Companion Pass can be one of the best tools in your arsenal for saving on travel.
When you hold a Southwest Companion Pass, another person can fly FREE with you (aside from mandatory government security fees), which is a HUGE savings!
But first, here are 5 things you need to know about this BEST deal in travel!
5 Things Retirees Need to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
1. One Person Flies Free to Any Southwest Destination
When you hold a Southwest Companion Pass, you can fly one companion with you on the same flight for free. You can pay for your flight with points or cold, hard cash.
For example, if you and your significant other want to fly to Florida to survive the winter blues, you can book a ticket for yourself with cash OR points and then another FREE ticket for your companion. The only thing you will have to pay is the mandatory security fee, which within the U.S. is $5.60 per way.
2. Use It to Check Off Your Bucket List
Are there places on your bucket list that you haven’t yet visited? With your Southwest Companion Pass, you and a friend or loved one can begin checking those off one by one!
What to visit the Caribbean with destinations like Grand Cayman? Check! How about San Diego or Rocky Mountain National Park, or Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park after flying into Las Vegas? Check! Want to whale-watch or see the famous Arch of Cabo San Lucas? Check!
Southwest flies as far south as Costa Rica and as far north as Seattle. Who knew?!!
3. You Can Change Your Companion
Did you know that you can change your companion three times each year after you first select them? That means you could have FOUR different companions every year!
Say you start with your spouse as your companion but then want to have a girl’s weekend away. You can change the name on your pass by contacting Southwest. You can change it again when you want to take your mom to her high school reunion and then change it one more time to take your grandchild on a college visit to your alma mater.
Southwest’s site does say to please allow 21 days for processing, though we’ve never found that to be an issue. Lyn says the last time she changed her companion, it took effect in about five minutes :).
4. The Pass Is Good More Than Once
Southwest is unlike any other airline! Their companion pass can be used as many times as you want throughout the duration of the pass unlike other airline Companion Passes that are only good ONE TIME.
That means you can take a companion for free on every single flight you have planned as long as you hold the pass. With the average round-trip flight in the U.S. costing ~$350, that is potentially a GIGANTIC savings to your wallet.
Wash, rinse and repeat this scenario as many times as you’d like until the pass expires.
5. It’s Easy to Earn
You can earn the Southwest Companion Pass in as little as 2 steps! Typically, you simply need to apply for two Southwest credit cards (either 1 personal and 1 small business or 2 small business cards) and meet their minimum spends to earn all 125,000 points you need to get a Companion Pass.
Lyn’s “How to Earn the Southwest Companion Pass” online course walks you through a variety of scenarios to earn the traditional pass and offers tips and advice for how to make the most of the pass once you have it!
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Happy retirement travels!