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Companion fares have become very common these days. It’s not just major carriers offering them, but even low-cost carriers. Today, we’ll be discussing two companion fares that get a lot of attention in the airline community: the Alaska Companion Fare and of course, the famous Southwest Companion Pass.
We’ll also see how both companion fares fare against each other. We’ll be discussing how they work, what benefits they offer, and what restrictions they come with.
Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass has always been a household name. It’s a special benefit that’s offered exclusively to Rapid Rewards elite members, where they can bring a travel companion with them for free (except for fees and taxes) on any Southwest Airlines flight.
To earn it, you need to accumulate at least 100 qualifying flights or 125,000 Rapid Rewards points per calendar year. The Southwest Companion pass will automatically appear in your account. The earlier you earn it, the better because it will be valid for the remainder of the year in which you earn it and the year after that.
For example, if you earn your companion pass on July 1, 2022, it will be valid until December 31, 2022, and also for the whole year of 2023 (a total of 18 months).
How To Earn The Southwest Companion Pass
Earning the Companion Pass is hard, and you might need to spend thousands of dollars per month on airfare to accumulate 125,000 points or 100 flights. However, flying isn’t the only way to earn the pass; there are easier and faster ways to do it.
- Earn Welcome Bonuses From Any Of The 5 Southwest Cards: For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card currently offers 50,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months of card membership. Meanwhile, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card offers 80,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
- Credit Card Spend: Once you get approved for a Southwest card, earning points doesn’t just end with the welcome bonus. You can earn more points through everyday spending, and depending on your card; you can earn up to 4x points per dollar.
- Earn Referral Points: Chase gives 10,000 points for every referral that’s approved for a Southwest card, up to 50,000 points in a calendar year.
- Rapid Rewards Partners: You can earn Rapid Rewards points through the multiple partner merchants that Southwest has. For example, most car rental partners offer 600 points per rental, while partner hotels can offer up to 10,000 points per night.
Unfortunately, points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards don’t count toward earning a Companion Pass.
How To Use The Southwest Companion Pass
After qualifying for a Companion pass, visit the Southwest website and add your travel companion for your next flight. Your companion will receive a physical card in the mail within 21 days, and he/she must present it upon boarding the plane. Make sure to register in advance since it takes a while for the card to arrive.
You can now start booking flights the same as usual, and you can even use points or cash. Once your flight is confirmed, click the “Add Companion” option to add your companion to your reservation.
This is one of the upsides of Southwest Companion Pass because the primary traveler can use points to book the primary flight, which means getting two flights for FREE.
Southwest Companion Pass restrictions
While the Companion Pass is the most flexible we’ve seen so far, it does have a few restrictions:
- Qualifying points don’t include purchased points, points transfers from members, points transferred from other loyalty programs, e-rewards, e-miles, Valued Opinions, Diners Club, points earned from program enrollment, tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and partner bonus points.
- Designated companions can be replaced up to three times per year.
- The primary traveler and the companion must be booked under the same reservation and flight schedules. If only the companion shows up, he or she can still take the flight, but it must be paid.
- You can’t use a Companion Pass to book a flight and fly with a companion who is also using a Companion Pass.
- Only the primary traveler will earn points from both the paid and Companion flights. However, no points will be earned if the paid flight was booked using points.
Read More: Get Alaska Airlines Wifi For Free Onboard
Alaska Airlines Companion Fare
The Alaska Companion Fare lets flyers purchase a ticket for one travel companion at a price of $99 base fare + fees. Airline fees start at $22 so expect to pay around $121 in total for the companion ticket.
Sure, the Alaska Companion Fare might not be free or doesn’t allow you to use points, but paying less than $150 for two tickets is still a great deal. Remember, Alaska Airlines is one of the few carriers that offers direct flights from LA to Hawaii, and regular fares for these routes can be very pricey.
How To Earn The Alaska Companion Fare
You can earn the Companion Fare by signing up for the following co-branded credit cards below:
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card – 60,000 bonus miles + Companion Fare after spending $3,000 within three months of card membership.
- Alaska Airlines Visa Business Credit Card – 60,000 bonus miles + Companion Fare after spending $3,000 within three months of card membership.
These two cards are available to Canadian residents only.
- Alaska Airlines World Elite Mastercard – 30,000 bonus miles + Companion Fare after spending $1000 CAD within three months of card membership.
- Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus Mastercard – 20,000 bonus miles + Companion Fare after spending $1000 CAD within three months of card membership.
The Companion Fare will come in the form of a discount code, and you’ll receive it within 6-8 weeks once you meet the spending requirements. The code will automatically renew every card anniversary as long as your card is active.
However, the code is only valid for 12 months, so you need to redeem it within 12 months of the date of issue. For example, if you got your code on December 3, 2022, you need to redeem it by 11:59 PM on December 3, 2023.
How To Use The Alaska Companion Fare
You’ll find the Companion Fare under your account’s “Discount and companion fare codes” section. If you’re signed in, just click the “Shop” button and start booking a flight. If you’re not signed in, just enter the discount code on the Alaska Airlines booking page when you book a flight.
Alaska Companion Fare Restrictions
Alaska has also set some restrictions on its Companion Fare.
- Companion fare bookings made through third-party websites are not allowed. All bookings must be made directly on alaskaair.com.
- The companion fare only applies to round-trip coach tickets, but you can choose to upgrade it for a fee.
- Primary flyers and travel companions must be booked under the same flight and schedule.
- Baggage fees and surcharges are not included in the Companion Fare.
- You cannot use other prompt codes to lower the price of your Companion Fare.
- You can book a flight that is beyond the expiration date, but you need to complete the booking and redeem the companion fare code by 11:59 PM PT on your expiration date.
Read More: Southwest Family Boarding Guide
Alaska Companion Fare VS Southwest Companion Pass: Which Is Better?
Choosing the right companion pass will all depend on what you need as a traveler. Think about these questions before you decide which one to pick.
Do you prefer booking flights with points?
The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to use points or cash to book companion fare tickets, while the Alaska Companion Fare doesn’t. If you’re a points enthusiast who loves booking award flights, then your first choice should be Southwest.
Do you want “Companion Fare” flexibility?
The Southwest Companion Pass only allows three companion changes per year. This means that you have to be very careful when choosing your travel companion, so you don’t exceed the limit. Remember, every time you change a designated companion, you need to wait around 21 days for the new Companion Pass card to arrive.
With the Alaska Companion Fare, you don’t have to worry about anything since the fare comes in the form of a discount code. You can be very spontaneous with your trips and choose any companion you want.
Do you want a longer “Companion Fare” expiration date?
The Alaska Companion Fare is only valid within 12 months from the date of issue. This means that you have to redeem it exactly at 11:59 PM on the expiry date.
Meanwhile, the Southwest Companion Pass is valid from the date you got it up until the end of the year, plus the entire following year. Let’s say you earned your pass this November 2022, and it will be valid until December 2023.
Are you a luxury traveler?
Southwest Airlines doesn’t offer first class or business class flights, so if you love traveling in premium cabins, then go for the Alaska Companion Fare. While you can’t directly book an Alaska First Class or Business Class flight using a Companion Fare, but you can choose to upgrade it for a fee.
Airlines That Also Offer Companion Certificates
With companion fares becoming a trend these days, other airlines have also started offering their own version. Here are some alternatives that you might want to consider:
The British Airways companion fare is called the Travel Together Ticket, and it’s available to cardholders of the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. You can earn the ticket if you can spend $30,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.
The Travel Together Ticket is valid for 2 years, and it lets you bring one travel companion with you on any fare class when booking an award flight that originates from and returns to the U.S. The ticket can’t be used for flights paid with cash or cash+points.
Delta Airlines also has its very own Delta Companion Certificate, which is available to cardholders of their co-branded credit card. To earn the annual certificate, all you need to do is to keep your account active every year.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
Delta Companion Certificates apply to Economy round-trip tickets for the personal and business version of the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Card. Meanwhile, the certificate applies to Main Cabin, Comfort+, or First Class for the personal and business version of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Cards.
Generally, most would say that the Southwest Companion Pass is the better option since it’s completely free. However, there are still other factors to consider, such as flexibility and benefits.
Both Companion Fares are great because they offer unique benefits that cater to different types of travelers. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose as long as it meets your travel needs.
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