Southwest Airlines Makes Generous Apology Offer to Some Customers

Southwest Airlines, struggling after the December reservations meltdown, wants to entice people back to booking with it.

Airlines thrive on repeat business. 

That’s why they all have loyalty programs designed to get passengers to book directly and not even consider flying with another company. And that’s an area where Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Get Free Report has thrived. 

For decades, the company built a positive relationship with customers based on low fares, friendly flight attendants, and a lack of hidden fees. That combination has pushed people to join its Rapid Rewards loyalty program and make Southwest their airline of choice.

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For some passengers, that’s still true, but the airline lost a lot of loyalty with its December meltdown. The company stranded tens of thousands of customers during the holiday season, and many felt that its response to those problems did not show enough contrition or compensate customers fairly, given how greatly they were inconvenienced.

Those holiday-season problems may have shaken the loyalty of some regular Southwest customers. Now, the airline has sent some past passengers a bold offer to entice them to work toward earning A-list status in the Rapid Rewards program.

Patrick T. Fallon / AFP

Why Southwest Status Matters

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program has two earned status levels, A-List and A-List Preferred. There are two ways to earn those levels: hit a qualifying number of one-way flights or earn enough points to qualify. The airline’s website explains how this works:

A Member who flies 25 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines or earns 35,000 tier qualifying points per calendar year will qualify for A-List status. More information about tier qualifying flights and tier qualifying qualifying points at the end. A Member who flies 50 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines or earns 70,000 tier qualifying points per calendar year will qualify for A-List Preferred status. 

Earning status matters because A-List customers get a number of perks, including automatic check-in. That generally positions those members in the first “A” boarding group, and if it doesn’t, A-List members can board at the end of the “A” group before the “B” group boards.

The airline also recently added another perk that boosts the value of being at least A-List: same day flight changes.

“Tier customers now have access to a same-day confirmed change with no difference in base fare if there is a seat available on the same calendar day,” the airline shared.

That’s a change over the previous system, which allowed A-List members to fly standby with no additional charge. Allowing them to actually make same-day changes is a big perk as passengers don’t have to go to the airport early to try to get on a flight that may not have room for them.

Southwest Makes It Easier to Earn Status

Southwest wants to ensure it holds on to its most loyal customers, and it emailed some of them an offer that includes three ways to more quickly earn tier status. People who got the offer do have to register to enroll in the program. 

The company explained how the promotion works in the email:   

Earn 2X on flights: Earn double tier qualifying points on all qualifying flights when you register, book, and fly between March 1-May 31, 2023.Earn with reward travel: Every flight purchased with points counts as one tier qualifying flight, and 10% of points redeemed qualify as [tier qualifying points] when you register, book, and fly between March 1-May 31, 2023.Earn with Rapid Rewards Credit Card purchases: Earn 3,000 tier qualifying points for every $5,000 in purchases you make with any Rapid Rewards Credit Card from March 1-May 31, 2023. These bonus TQPs are in addition to the TQPs you already earn as a cardmember.

The first part of the offer is the most generous. Getting double the qualifying points enables more people to earn or get close to earning A-List status. When that’s in sight, it encourages people to find a reason to fly Southwest to earn the status.

When a passenger earns A-List or A-List Preferred status, they get the benefits for the remainder of the current year and for all of the following year. 

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