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How to earn Southwest status: A-list and Companion Pass qualification

by on Fri February 12, 2016 • 28 Comments
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Southwest Airlines has three status tiers that afford you extra benefits when you fly Southwest: A-List, A-List Preferred, and Companion Pass.

A-List and A-List Preferred give you priority over other fliers when you fly, so you can snag better seats and board more quickly, while Companion Pass is a lucrative deal that lets you bring a designated companion along for no additional airfare on all your Southwest flights for over a year.

Unfortunately, Southwest buries a lot of the details on how to earn status in the fine print of its website, but we’ve summarized what you need to know below.

southweststatus

What are qualifying points?

Southwest uses two different kinds of point balances to track whether you qualify for A-List or Companion Pass status:

  • A-List “Tier Qualifying Points”
  • Companion Pass “Qualifying Points”

Keep in mind these are just balances for tracking purposes. They have nothing to do with the number of Rapid Rewards points you have available to book yourself award flights. And you can earn both kinds of qualifying points at the same time.

When do points count for status?

Your status earning goal clock starts ticking in January each year, and keeps running until December 31. Once you reach the goal, you’ll get your status for the remainder of the year, and all of the next year. So if you qualify really early in the year, you can enjoy status for almost two years.

What do you need to earn for A-List status?

Earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points OR fly 25 one-way flights (paid flights, not award tickets or flights where you’re a free companion)

What do you need to earn for A-List Preferred status?

Earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points OR fly 50 one-way flights (paid flights, not award tickets or flights where you’re a free companion)

What do you need to earn for Companion Pass status?

Earn 110,000 Qualifying Points OR 100 one-way flights

Note that earning Companion Pass won’t earn you A-List status unless you earn enough A-List Tier Qualifying Points.

Basically, if you earn Companion Pass without much flying, you probably won’t get A-List status. But if you earn it mostly through flying, you’ll end up with both A-List and Companion Pass status.

What points count for A-List?

  • Wanna Get Away fares: 6 points per dollar of base fare
  • Anytime fares: 10 points per dollar of base fare
  • Business Select fares: 12 points per dollar of base fare
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card points: You can earn 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points per $10,000 you spend on the card, up to a maximum of 15,000 Tier Qualifying Points each year. These points are separate from the Rapid Rewards points you earn and use for award flights. Only the Premier level credit card can earn these points, not the lower annual fee Plus card.

What does NOT count toward A-list Tier Qualifying

  • Points transferred into your Southwest account
  • Introductory bonuses on your Southwest Premier card
  • Points earned from Southwest Rapid Rewards partners
  • Special promotional flight bonuses
  • Points you buy

NOTE: Points earned from the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card hit your account after your statement has closed, not when you make a purchase. So if it’s close to the end of the year, there’s a risk your points will hit the account after December 31, and not count toward qualifying in the year you’re finishing off.

What points count for Companion Pass?

  • Wanna Get Away fares: 6 points per dollar of base fare
  • Anytime fares: 10 points per dollar of base fare
  • Business Select fares: 12 points per dollar of base fare
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card points (Plus or Premier): any points you earn from the card, including introductory sign on bonuses, count toward Companion Pass status
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Partners: any points you earn from Rapid Rewards Partners, like hotels, car rentals, Rapid Rewards Shopping, and Rapid Rewards Dining, are Companion Pass Qualifying. You can also transfer in points from your accounts with hotel partners like Marriott, and those will count as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.

What will NOT count

Points transferred directly from credit card rewards programs, like Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, won’t count toward Companion Pass.

Points you buy also don’t count.

However, if you first transfer points from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account to a hotel program like Marriott Rewards or Hyatt Gold Passport, and then transfer them from the hotel program to your Southwest account, the points will count as Qualifying Points.

The catch is, transfers from hotel programs to Southwest usually dilute your points, so for example, 30,000 Marriott points = 10,000 Southwest points. You can read more about transferring hotel points to Southwest points here.

Does Southwest match status?

Southwest generally won’t match your status from another airline program, but it may offer you a ‘challenge’ that asks you to complete some flights in a short period of time, and that can earn you status more quickly than completing a full year’s worth of requirements.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee Waived

Yes

Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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28 thoughts on How to earn Southwest status: A-list and Companion Pass qualification

  1. Jason

    I do not understand how A list points are accumulated. I have over $380,000 in purchases this year, but only 37,000 A list points. I fly a fair amount, but use miles to purchase tickets.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jason – A list points are usually accumulated by buying tickets with cash. When you pay with miles you don’t earn points toward A list.

      Reply
  2. Kyle

    I am close to qualifying for the companion pass and have the Southwest card. My statement ends on the 12th of each month, which is when the points hit my points account. How are the points treated for the purchases made between December 13 and December 31? Do they count towards the statement date year or the year of the actual purchases?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Kyle – It’s statement date year. So either change your statement date to be later in the month, or get it done by the 12th of December. “Each 12 billing cycles starting after your December statement date through the following December statement date.”

      Reply
  3. Jen

    I am not going to qualify for A-List status. I need about 16K more points. Is there a way I can qualify before the year is up?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Jen – Tough situation without some more flying. You could earn 15k via the Southwest Premier credit card, but would need to knock out $100k in card spending to get it done!

      $1,600 in ‘anytime’ fares would get you there as well.

      Reply
  4. G Shea

    My husband and I have a Chase Premier card and have never heard about any A List status. How do we go about obtaining more information? We usually earn on average at least a minimum of 50,000 points per year?

    Maybe I am uncertain of what the true qualifications are.

    Thank you for your time.

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @G Shea – Earning 50k points on the Southwest card (which we’re guessing is from $50k in spending) would only get you 7,500 ‘tier points’ toward A List status. ‘Tier points’ are earned at a rate of 1,500 per $10,000 in spending, but there’s a cap of 15,000 tier points you can earn each year from credit card spending. You’d have to earn the rest via flying.

      Reply
  5. jayne Weiss

    Currently on a list and calculating out my a list points for 2017. I have 2 round trips scheduled but will still be short 500 points so trying to figure out how I could earn these.
    I have a nonstop to Chicago booked in next week, would I earn more points if I made this a connecting flight?
    Do flights taken over Christmas count for a list points?
    I know credit card points are only counted first week of every month after speaking with southwest
    Any other suggestions

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @jayne – Yes flights taken over Christmas will still count toward your A list status for the calendar year so that will work fine. A connecting flight wouldn’t earn you more points – it would count as a single one-way flight. If you upgrade to a Business Select fare you’ll earn twice the qualifying points of a Wanna Get Away fare.

      Reply
  6. Sally

    Who monitors the A-list status? My manager was A-listed and recently booked and was put in B status. Is it a self monitor thing or would it come up automatically when booking?

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Sally – The group numbers for A-list members get assigned 36 hours prior to departure. So if the flight was booked less than 36 hours before the departure time, it’s possible all the A group numbers were already taken. Another possibility is it was just a very A-list heavy flight.

      Reply
  7. Heather

    Hi,
    So I am planning on signing up for both the personal and business cards to get 100k to get as close as possible to the companion pass. My question is….Does the clock start ticking for your companion pass once you sign up for the credit cards and get the sign up bonus OR when you reach 110k? I am trying to do it so I can trying to get as close to two years as possible for the companion pass.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MileCards.com

      @Heather – It’s based on when you first start earning points.

      So if you want to maximize you would get cards around October and put the last $ for the sign on bonus requirements in January, just before the 3 month deadline.

      The bad situation would be if you met one sign on bonus requirement this year, and then met the 2nd one next year, leaving you with 50k stranded on both sides.

      Reply
  8. John

    One of the benefits of A-List status is a 25% Earning Bonus. Do these bonus miles count toward Companion Pass status?

    Reply
  9. Marla

    Will this count towards 3 segments if I book as three separate tix
    sna to phoenix -am day 1
    phoenix to vegas-pm day 1
    vegas to sna-pm day 2

    I have a business trip and i want to maximize segments

    Reply
  10. Dan

    Does a “paid flight” which counts towards your tier status have to be paid in full? What if I use a $50 gift card towards a flight, and then the balance I pay for on a credit card. Would that flight count towards my A-list status for the year? Thanks!

    Reply
  11. gdonahue

    Quick question: Does the multiplier you achieve after A-List status (25%) also count toward your TQP?

    Thanks

    Reply
  12. Hassib

    On the flip side, do other programs often match Southwest status? Specifically if you’ve qualified for companion pass.

    Reply

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