About two months ago, Southwest sent out an e-mail and part of it informed Rapid Reward members of changes that would take place beginning April 17th. Here is the text from their website and e-mail (bolding mine):
We created Rapid Rewards® because we think you deserve to actually feel rewarded. And, from time to time we must make some updates to our program. Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares.
A vague reference to changing rates is never a good thing. Southwest did not notify anyone as to which flights will see these newer award prices but it is most likely to be some of the most popular routes/times of year. Another area may be the increase of award pricing for international flights. Southwest used to be domestic based but they have quickly been increasing the number of flights they have throughout the Caribbean and Central America.
Making A Move
One of the beautiful things about Southwest is that you can cancel and award reservation whenever you want (up to 10 minutes before departure) and you will get all of the points redeposited without a fee! That is a fantastic way to lock in trips and then change things based on newer pricing.
Many Months Of Booking Available
Because of that great feature, now is the time to book awards on Southwest that you may have been considering. Flights can currently be booked through October 30 so you have several months from which to choose your flights.
Another thing that works in your favor is that Southwest is currently running a fare sale that expires tomorrow. Some of the flights you have been thinking about may just have seen the last price drop before whatever changes go into affect next week.
If you do not currently have enough points in your Southwest account, you can easily transfer them from your Ultimate Rewards account. They transfer at 1:1 and the transfer is instant – just logout and back in on your Southwest account to see the points there. Once transferred, they cannot be transferred back to Ultimate Rewards.
Changes come all the time with airlines and their redemption methods. At the very least, it was good that Southwest gave a heads-up that there will be a change, if not telling what the change will detail. Personally, the fact that they felt it worth an announcement while holding back details make it seem like the change will not be a very good one. At least the Companion Pass will still guarantee that one person will be free!