Admittedly this isn’t a frequent flyer program I’m all that passionate about, but I do feel like it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. While Southwest used to have a fairly simple frequent flyer program, based on the number of segments flown, their program is now revenue based, much like JetBlue and Virgin America. Unfortunately it’s not the simple, “fixed number of points per dollar” system like other programs offer, though. Instead, you earn a different number of points per dollar depending on the type of fare you book (Wanna Get Away, Anytime, or Business Select), ranging anywhere from 6-12 points per dollar. So not only do you naturally get more points for a more expensive fare because you’re spending more money, but you earn more points per dollar as well. Not the simplest of systems, in my opinion.
Redemption is equally confusing, and based on the revenue cost of a fare. However, you pay a different number of points per dollar depending on whether you’re booking a Wanna Get Away, Anytime, or Business Select fare. So yeah, there are no blackout dates, though you’ll pay an arm and a leg for the last seat.
Ultimately this is probably a positive change for those that frequently travel on expensive, Business Select fares, though a negative change for just about anyone else.
Now, there are some other options for spending your points, like international travel on other airlines, though it’s an even worse deal than the options above.
Ultimately I think Gary is spot on in his analysis, especially when he says:
In my experience the other low cost carriers view their frequent flyer programs as a tax rather than a profit center, something they’re obliged to offer because everyone else does and something they just want to keep as inexpensive to run as possible.
So true. It’s funny, because on one hand it’s great that Southwest doesn’t need a frequent flyer program to be profitable, while at the same time a couple of the legacies might have liquidated a few years back if it weren’t for their frequent flyer programs and ability to leverage miles with banks/credit cards.
And, much like Gary:
This program holds zero appeal for me.