The Guide to Southwest A-List Preferred

A-List Preferred is worth pursuing for Southwest die-hards, but it's not the most valuable status out there.
Alisha McDarris
By Alisha McDarris 
Edited by Meg Lee

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Earning elite status with an airline can streamline your flying experience. Besides the host of benefits and perks that accompany status, there can be some serious money-saving advantages, too.

If you’re unsure whether pursuing Southwest A-List Preferred status is worth it, we’ll break down the pros and cons in this guide.

Southwest A-List Preferred benefits

A-List Preferred is Southwest Airlines' top-tier status, above the airline’s A-List status level. Members get all the benefits of A-List status, including free same-day standby and dedicated check-in/security lines where available, along with a handful of other perks such as:

  • Higher priority boarding for you and everyone on your reservation.

  • 100% earning bonus: Rack up miles faster with double Rapid Rewards points earned on every flight.

  • Free same-day change: Confirm same-day flight changes with no fare difference if there is a seat available.

  • Dedicated phone line: Jump to the top of the customer service queue when calling Southwest's A-list phone line at 888-737-1005.

  • Free in-flight Wi-Fi so you can stay connected onboard.

  • Two free premium beverages (beer, wine or spirits) on eligible flights (beginning Nov. 6, 2023).

You may notice that Southwest status comes with some different benefits than some other airlines. That’s because Southwest doesn’t offer a true first or business class experience on their flights, or any type of preferred seating, so seat upgrades aren’t available.

And since the airline already offers two checked bags to every passenger for free, status benefits don’t need to include it.

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How to get Southwest A-List Preferred

(Editor's note: Southwest recently announced some significant changes coming to the Rapid Rewards program, including lower requirements for A-List status in 2024. Read more on that here.)

If you’ve decided A-List Preferred status is worth pursuing, the next step is figuring out how to get there. There are two ways to do so: through flying and through spending with Southwest partners.

Fly with Southwest

You'll need to fly 50 segments (one-way flights) or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points (TQP) in one calendar year to achieve A-List Preferred. Flight segments are straightforward enough, but how you earn those tier qualifying points — and how quickly — varies depending on the type of fare you purchase and the fare price.

  • Wanna Get Away: Purchase Southwest’s base fare and you’ll earn six Rapid Rewards points per dollar.

  • Wanna Get Away Plus: A slightly upgraded fare nets eight points per dollar.

  • Anytime: Get 10 Rapid Rewards Points per dollar.

  • Business Select: Get 12 tier qualifying points per dollar.

This earning structure means that the more you spend and the higher fare type you book, the more you earn, making Business Select fares the fastest way to status with Southwest.

Keep in mind that once you achieve A-List status, you’ll earn a 25% bonus in points on every purchase, and once you achieve A-List Preferred status, you’ll earn twice the points in every fare class.

Earn through spending with partners

If you can’t complete all the flight segments required to reach Southwest A-List Preferred, you can supplement your earning with strategic spending. Partners include:

  • Hotels: Book using your Rapid Rewards number at Best Western, Radisson, Choice Hotels, World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, MGM, through Southwest’s dedicated booking platform, or via RocketMiles.

  • Rental cars: You can earn a number of points by booking a rental car with Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless, and Thrifty. Just provide your Rapid Rewards number.

  • Shopping and dining: Thanks to Rapid Rewards Shopping and Dining, you can earn points when you shop online through the airline’s dedicated portals or with select partners, or when you dine at participating restaurants.

  • Home: If you live in a state that allows you to choose an electricity supplier, Rapid Rewards members can earn by selecting NRG.

  • Surveys: To earn points without spending a dime, several survey platforms partner with Southwest to allow you to earn points for completing surveys.

Use a Rapid Rewards credit card

There are two credit cards that not only earn you Rapid Rewards points, but also allow you to earn unlimited tier qualifying points.

Both offer the opportunity to earn 1,500 TQPs toward A-List status for every $10,000 you spend with no limit on earning potential (starting Jan. 1, 2024, the spend requirement will be lowered to $5,000) :

What is Southwest status worth?

If you can only achieve status with one airline, it makes sense to pursue a status that’s worth something, both personally and monetarily.

In NerdWallet’s annual analysis of the best airline elite status programs, we sought to determine how much value the major U.S. airline loyalty programs deliver to flyers. Here's how A-List did.

Value of benefits

Cost to earn

Elite earning rate





A-List Preferred




We estimate that Rapid Rewards points are worth a solid 1.5 cents each, so even if status isn’t your goal, the value of Rapid Rewards points compares favorably with other U.S. airlines.

What else you need to know

Keep the following in mind about Southwest status and earning Rapid Rewards points:

  • Points never expire.

  • There are no blackout dates when booking with points.

  • Unlimited reward seats are available on every flight, as long as seats are available for sale.

  • Once status is achieved, it's valid through the remainder of the calendar in which the status was earned and for the entire calendar year after. 

  • You must re-qualify for status every year.

Should you try to earn Southwest A-List Preferred?

While Southwest A-List Preferred may not offer the most value among airline statuses, it could be worth it if you fly Southwest often — especially if you can also earn an annual Companion Pass and essentially get two flights for the price of one.

(Top photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines)

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