How Southwest Status Matches Works

If you complete six one-way flights in the 90-day status match window, you can keep Southwest status for 12 months.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 

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Are you tired of boarding last? How about dragging through security? Flying can be a hassle, but having elite status with your airline may help to soothe some of the more annoying aspects of travel. But what if you don't have status with a particular airline you want to fly? Look for a status match.

Southwest Airlines, like other airlines, offers a status match program that allows you to bring over the elite status you've earned elsewhere and become an instant elite with Southwest on a trial basis.

Let's look at Southwest's status match process, its benefits, and how to maintain your elite status long-term.

An overview of Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest's elite status program is a little more limited than its competitors. It features just three tiers of status, and its benefits aren't quite as expansive as programs from United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.

That being said, if you earn the coveted Companion Pass with Southwest, you'll have access to one of the most generous benefits available from any airline — period.

Southwest's status levels are:

  • A-List.

  • A-List Preferred.

The benefits vary based on the tier, but you can expect perks such as:

  • Priority boarding.

  • Priority check-in.

  • Priority security lines.

  • Free same-day flight standby.

  • Free same-day flight changes.

  • A dedicated customer service phone line.

  • Additional bonus points on flights.

  • Free in-flight Wi-Fi.

But what about the Southwest Companion Pass mentioned above? This much-coveted perk isn't technically related to elite status. It can be earned after completing 100 flights or earning 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year. Once you have it, you can designate a companion to fly with you for free whenever you book a ticket.

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What to know about Southwest status matches

Status matching to Southwest grants you A-List status, Southwest's lowest tier of status. Ordinarily, you'll need to have flown 25 flights or earned 35,000 qualifying points to receive this status level. Here's how the Southwest Status match works:

1. Southwest matches from a variety of airlines

To request a status match from Southwest, you'll want to navigate to its dedicated matching page. In addition, you'll need to be a member of Rapid Rewards and provide proof of your elite status with another airline.

Although Southwest will only match you up to A-List status, it accepts proof of elite status from several airlines. Elite status from all U.S. airlines can be used for the match, including:

  • Alaska Airlines.

  • American Airlines.

  • Delta Air Lines.

  • Frontier Airlines.

  • JetBlue Airways.

  • Spirit Airlines.

  • United Airlines.

2. Southwest matches last for 90 days

Once you've submitted your status match request and been approved, you'll receive Southwest's A-List status for 90 days. The process generally takes about 12 days to complete. This grants you access to all its benefits, including priority boarding and same-day flight changes.

3. You can keep A-List status by flying

Enjoying the benefits of being an elite member? While Southwest's status match only lasts for 90 days, extending your match to a full 12 months and continuing life as an A-List member is possible.

To do so, you'll need to complete either three round trips or six one-way flights during the 90 days you're participating in the promotion. You'll then be able to keep your status for 12 months.

4. You can status match every 12 months

Speaking of 12 months, Southwest is pretty generous regarding how often you can status match. Unlike airlines such as United and Delta, which only allow you to match once every few years, Southwest will let you match every 12 months.

Who should consider a Southwest status match

Although Southwest status matches don't provide top-tier benefits, they can still be helpful to many different travelers. Here are some reasons you may want to consider a Southwest status match.

  • You fly Southwest. This first may seem obvious, but it's true. Why bother matching Southwest's elite status if you never fly the airline? Although Southwest has been expanding within the last few years, you may want to skip out on the match if your local airport doesn't receive many services. Otherwise, this status match is a great way to get a few extra benefits.

  • You have (and will continue to have) airline elite status elsewhere. Because you can match Southwest A-List status once every 12 months, there's no reason not to match if you've got status with another airline. Once you've qualified elsewhere and waited the 12 months, you can match Southwest again.

  • You need flexible flights. Southwest already has a flexible flight change and cancellation policy, allowing you to alter your flights for free. However, as an elite member, you can move to another flight without paying any difference in fare, which is a massive boon if you're not sure exactly when you'll need to take off.

Southwest status match recapped

Southwest Airlines is already known for its benefits to all its customers, including two free checked bags, no change fees and the ability to earn a Companion Pass. Although its elite status benefits aren't as expansive as some other U.S. airlines, they can still provide great value, especially if you like to be first on board.

Southwest's status match program is equally generous. You won't be a top-tier elite through a match, but you can match from many U.S. airlines and receive complimentary A-List status for a full 90 days. If you're enjoying life as a Southwest elite, you can also opt to take three round-trip or six one-way flights within those 90 days to keep your status for a full 12 months.

Finally, Southwest's policy of allowing you to complete a match once every 12 months enables you to maintain elite status indefinitely — as long as you have status with another airline and can meet the minimum requirements to extend status.

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