I unlocked the Southwest Companion Pass the last week of January, and although I don’t write much about airline miles (because others do it much better than me), I want to mention this because it’s such a great deal and so many people I know have never heard of it.
The Companion Pass allows you to designate one person to fly for free with you for up to two years. They fly for free whether you pay money or points for your flights. It’s super easy to use, you just book a flight and then click “add a companion” and book them on the same flights for free.
This sounds like the kind of deal that would require flying tons of miles or segments on Southwest. In fact, it requires 110,000 qualifying miles. And because of that I ignored posts about it until late last year. It turns out you can earn the companion pass just by signing up for two of the Southwest credit cards with 50,000 mile bonuses, and then putting $10k in combined spend on them. Points earned through their credit cards count towards the companion pass! This not only will give you a companion pass, but it will also earn you 110,000 miles to spend on future flights. I didn’t take a single Southwest flight to earn this pass.
The pass is good for the entire calendar year in which it is earned, and also for the full next year as well. So mine is good from January 24th, 2015 through December 31, 2016: almost two full years. I expect that all of my domestic travel (and any travel to Mexico or the Caribbean) over the next two years will be on Southwest. Can’t beat this deal!
If you have a spouse/friend with whom you frequently travel domestically, consider earning the Southwest Companion Pass now, early in 2014, for 2 years of free companion flights. I recommend checking out what Darius has written about this pass for a basic how-to guide.