Southwest elite status comes with up to 100% bonus points, priority boarding, free same-day standby, free in-flight WiFi, and their famous Southwest Companion Pass. Southwest features a 4-tier program consisting of member, A-List, A-List Preferred, and the fourth tier being access to the Companion Pass. Southwest status is relatively easy to achieve when compared to other programs thanks to being able to earn Tier Qualifying Points with Southwest Credit Cards and for not requiring a large amount of flights.
Qualifying For Southwest Elite Status
Southwest Rapid Rewards status is obtained based on one-way qualifying flights or Tier Qualifying Points earned. Earning a certain amount of flights or tier points within the calendar year will grant you status within the A-list program. Once you earn status, you will have it for the remainder of the year in which you earned it and the following year. Meeting the requirements again in the following year will maintain your status.
One-Way Qualifying Flights
Southwest One-Way qualifying flights are defined as a one-way revenue trip on Southwest from an origin city to a destination city, including any intermediate stops and/or connections on Southwest. That means if you fly from Point A to Point B, it will earn you one qualifying one-way flight. Even if you have a layover, it will still be counted as one-qualifying flight.
Tier Qualifying Points
Southwest Tier Qualifying Points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, Southwest's hotel, car, and ground transportation partners, and using Southwest Credit Cards. These are not to be confused with Southwest Points which can be used to redeem awards such as free flights.
Signing up for a Southwest Rapid Rewards account will start you at the base tier. The base tier merely allows you to earn and redeem points. Base members earn 6 Rapid Rewards Points per $1 spent on 'Wanna Get Away?' fare tickets, 10 points on Anytime fare tickets, and 12 points on Business Select fare tickets.
The first tier in Southwest Airline's Rapid Rewards program is A-List tier. A-List is obtained after you meet one of the following requirements within a calendar year:
- 25 One-Way Qualifying Flights
- 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points
After you satisfy either requirement, you will granted A-List status. A-List members receive the following benefits:
25% Bonus Points
A-List members will earn a 25% bonus on points on every qualifying flight flown with Southwest. This means 'Wanna Get Away?' fares will earn 7.5x Rapid Rewards Points per $1 spent on base fare, Anytime fares will earn 12.5 points, and Southwest Business Select fares will earn 15x points.
Southwest A-List Tier members will earn Priority Boarding. This can be useful for anyone looking to be one of the first to board with the best available boarding pass available for Southwest.
Free Same-Day Standby
A-List members will have their same-day standby fee waived when trying to board a different flight other than the one booked for that day. This benefit must be done at the airport by a Southwest Customer Service Agent.
A-List members will also receive priority check-in and security lane access along with a special A-List phone line to help you connect directly with a Southwest Airlines representative.
A-List Preferred Tier
The second and highest tier in the program is Southwest's A-List Preferred. This tier is obtained after you meet one of the following requirements within a calendar year:
- 50 One-Way Qualifying Flights
- 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points
Once you satisfy one of those requirements, you will be given A-List Preferred status. A-List Preferred comes with the benefits of A-List along with the following additional benefits:
100% Bonus Points
A-List Preferred members will earn a 100% bonus on points on every qualifying flight flown with Southwest. This means 'Wanna Get Away?' fares will earn 12x Rapid Rewards Points per $1 spent on base fare, Anytime fares will earn 20 points, and Southwest Business Select fares will earn 24x points.
Free In-Flight WiFi
A-List Preferred Members will receive free in-flight WiFi when flying Southwest Airlines.
Southwest A-List Preferred members will also receive a dedicated A-List Preferred phone line to help you connect directly with a Southwest Airlines representative.
Southwest Companion Pass
While not technically a tier, those who continue to fly with Southwest has the chance to earn the popular Southwest Companion Pass. This is obtained after meeting one of the following requirements in a calendar year:
- 100 One-Way Qualifying Flights
- 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points
The Southwest Companion pass allows one person to fly with you, free of airline charges (taxes and fees still apply) every time a flight is purchased or redeemed for points. Depending on how early in the year you can qualify for this perk, this can be a very great money saver when it comes to flights. The Southwest Companion Pass is good for the following calendar year and the remainder of the year it was earned in.