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I had not flown on Southwest Airlines in about 10 years. It wasn’t that my last flying experiences with them were bad – on the contrary, I found Southwest to have wonderful in-flight service, great food packs (which are not the same as they were then), and comfortable seats. The open seat policy (you pick your seat, there are no pre-assigned seats – it is based on what zone you are in, based on when you check-in or paying for early bird check-in) is really unique and kind of fun. Imagine musical chairs – but in an airplane!
The reason I had stopped flying them was that they did not fly out of my home airport (closest was over an hour away) and the fares were never really low enough to convince me to drive that far and spend that much extra on gas. That started to change with the Southwest Airlines / Airtran merger. Airtran does fly out of here and starting April 14, the new Southwest will be flying out of here as well!
However, we are actually flying out of the other airport on Southwest soon to see my wife’s family. We got a great deal on the airfare and used points to get the tickets – 48,000 points for four tickets was pretty good! That opened my eyes again to the possibilities with Southwest Airlines for domestic travel and just in time – four separate Chase Southwest cards have again upped their sign-up bonus to 50,000 each!
Southwest Companion Pass
Here is one more thing that makes it essential to sign-up for at least two cards while the bonus is high – the Southwest Companion Pass. This allows you to take one person with you for free on any flight you fly on, whether it is a paid ticket or an award. The Companion Pass runs through the current year and the next. So, if you were to earn the Pass soon, you would have it for all of this year and 2014! The requirement for the Companion Pass is 110,000 points. If you get 2 cards @ 50,000 points each (credit card bonus points currently count towards that number), all you need to do is $10,000 in spend to secure the pass. I will have more on this later. If you would like to read more details on this in the meantime, here is a writeup done by Daraius of Million Mile Secrets. Should you read that and find it useful, I encourage you to use the links for the Southwest cards on his site.