An airline just launched a new way to fly a friend for free

Those who have family in aviation will surely know of a concept known as the “buddy” or “companion pass.” Along with being able to take a certain number of personal trips for free every year, flight attendants can also choose someone they’re close to as a designated “companion” who can join flights on standby while paying only the taxes and airport fees.

This has, for decades, been seen as one of the best perks of a job that has increasingly been under the spotlight for its unpredictability and insufficient pay.

Related: Southwest Wants Your Companion to Fly for Free

Leaning into the association with the term “companion pass,” low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines  (LUV) – Get Free Report a few years ago launched a program in which those who take more than 100 flights a year or earn 135,000 miles with the airline can fly a friend for free.

Southwest’s Companion Pass is a perk available to some of the airline’s most frequent flyers.

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There is now a new way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass

While a great deal (the designated person will get to accompany the frequent flyer on any flight while paying what in most cases will be only $10-$20 in taxes), it was available only to the airline’s most loyal customers as earning it previously required spending thousands of dollars with the airline.

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This week, Southwest added another way for frequent customers to earn the Companion Pass. As part of a new promotion, those who sign up for Chase Bank  (JPM) – Get Free Report‘s  Southwest Rapid Rewards Consumer Credit Card and spend $4,000 within the first three months will automatically get a Companion Pass added to their flyer profile.

This promotion is available between now and March 11 and is will be attractive to many as it requires significantly less spending than taking 100 flights in a single year.

As initially reported by Travel + Leisure, the program works exactly as the regular Companion Pass. Once it is achieved and a travel companion has been designated, the deal will be valued until Feb. 28, 2025.

These are the credit cards that get you the promotion

The cardholder will also receive 30,000 Rapid Rewards points through their account while the credit cards they can choose from are the Southwest Rapid Rewards Consumer Credit Card Plus card with a $69 annual fee, the Premier card with a $99 annual fee and the Priority card which costs $149 a year.

The cards with higher annual fees also have other perks, such as better cash-back percentages, but require a higher income and better credit in order to get approved. The program has been particularly popular for those who live in cities where Southwest has a significant presence and who regularly fly with family.

“I held a Companion Pass for nearly all of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 and recently mine has lapsed,” Gary Leff of aviation website View From The Wing wrote of his experience with the program. “[…] Southwest is the largest airline at my home airport in Austin, and the way I’d use my Companion Pass is to buy a ticket for myself, bring my wife as my companion, and redeem points for my daughter. This is one of the very best values in travel.”

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