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One of the best perks in travel is undoubtedly the Southwest Companion Pass. By earning the Companion Pass, you can essentially book buy-one-get-one-free travel on Southwest Airlines with the travel partner of your choice. That opens the potential to incredible travel savings.
However, in order to start saving, you'll first need to designate your companion. Here's what you need to know about how to add a companion to your Southwest Companion Pass.
The basics of the Southwest Companion Pass
We cover all the rules of the pass separately. But here's a quick overview of what you need to know about how to use the Southwest Companion Pass.
It's valid on both cash and Rapid Rewards points bookings. You can even add a companion to an existing Southwest reservation. You don't have to worry about any blackout dates or seat restrictions. If there's a seat available on a flight you purchased, you can add your travel partner for just the cost of the government fees (which start at just $5.60 each way).
The standard way to get the Companion Pass is by earning 125,000 Companion Pass-eligible points. If you earn it this way, your pass will be valid from the time you earn it through the end of the following calendar year. The points earned from a welcome offer on a Southwest credit card count as well. So if you apply for a Southwest card, you can get your pass even faster. Note that, starting Jan. 1, 2023, the number of points required to earn Companion Pass benefits will increase to 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Read more on that and other upcoming changes here.
Southwest also periodically offers promotional ways to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. However, a pass earned through one of these promotions may have a different validity period.
When you earn the Companion Pass, you need to add a companion before they can fly with you. We'll show you how to do so below.
If you don't have just one person you want to fly with regularly, you have the option to change your Southwest companion up to three times each calendar year. We’ll show you how to do that as well.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
How to add your companion on a Southwest flight
Congratulations, you've put in the work and earned a Southwest Companion Pass. You only have a critical step before you can use it: You need to select your companion.
1. Set up your Companion Pass online
Upon earning the pass, you should receive an email from Southwest with the good news. In the email, Southwest should provide a link to "Set up Companion Pass now:"
If you can't find the email or didn't get one, you can also designate your companion by logging into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and heading to your account dashboard. There should be a link there to "Add your Companion."
2. Add your companion's information
When you do so, Southwest will open an internal window for you to add your companion pass information. You're going to need to have the following information about them:
First and last name.
Date of birth.
Southwest notes at the bottom to "Be sure to double check all fields" before submitting. Indeed, once you submit this form, there's no way to go back and change your Companion Pass information online. Instead, you'll need to call Southwest to make any changes to the information.
3. Book travel
Upon submitting the form, you'll get a pop-up that your Companion Pass has been added:
You can use your pass immediately after designating your companion. However, it will take around 21 business days for Southwest to process and mail you a physical Companion Pass card. Since that card may need to be presented at the airport on demand, it's best to wait until you receive that card before traveling and take it with you, just in case.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
How to change your Southwest companion
If you have a trip coming up and your existing companion isn’t the one you want to fly with, then you should change your Southwest companion. Remember that you can only change your companion up to three times each calendar year. So, you'll want to be strategic about any changes.
Unfortunately, you can't change a Southwest Companion Pass companion online. You'll need to call Southwest at 800-435-9792 to make the change.
Before you're able to change your companion, Southwest requires Companion Pass holders to cancel any reservation with the current pass holder.
Then, you'll need to allow 21 business days for Southwest to process and issue a new Companion Pass card. Be sure to make any changes well before you plan to use your pass with a new companion.
How to add a companion to an existing Southwest reservation
First, you'll need to book your own flight. Whether you're booking your flight through Southwest's website or through Southwest Vacations, you can't use your Companion Pass at the time of booking. Instead, once you book your flight, log in to your Rapid Rewards account dashboard. Under "My upcoming trips," Southwest puts a handy "Add Companion" button.
When you click that button, Southwest will automatically select the same flight and show the taxes and fees required to add a companion:
Even better, Southwest auto-fills information for your companion based on the information that you provided when designating the person initially.
Finally, complete payment for the taxes and fees to finalize the purchase. Note that your companion will have a different confirmation number than you, so you'll each need to check into your flight individually.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award flights on Southwest
Bonus: How to add a Known Traveler Number to your Southwest flight
Southwest auto-fills most of your companion's information, but there's one critical element that may be left out. If your travel partner has TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you'll need to manually add your companion's Known Traveler Number.
To add the Known Traveler Number for your Southwest companion, go into their reservation using their confirmation number. Under the passenger's name, there will be a link to "Add Known Traveler #." Click this link and fill in the number for your companion to get access to TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Final notes to adding a companion on a Southwest flight
The Southwest Companion Pass is an incredibly valuable tool, allowing holders to essentially book buy-one-get-one-free travel. With this guide, you now know how to add a companion to your Southwest Companion Pass and add a companion to an existing reservation. Plus, you'll be able to change your Companion Pass designation if you want someone else to fly with you for nearly free on Southwest.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card