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Southwest Airlines A-List Status: Is It Worth It?

Southwest Airlines A-List Status: Is It Worth It?

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Southwest Airlines offers a simple rewards program that caters to leisure and light business travelers. The airline's program has easier eligibility requirements and fewer elite tiers than other major airlines' status programs.

In general, elite status on Southwest's Rapid Reward program is a good option if you prefer using this airline over legacy carriers — and it’s even better for those who travel frequently with other people.

Is Southwest A-List status worth it?

Elite status on Southwest provides valuable benefits for those who frequently fly with the airline, including priority boarding, a points-earning bonus, same-day standby and more. Plus, if you fly enough to qualify for the Companion Pass, loyalty to Southwest will become even more worthwhile.

In general, Southwest is a decent go-to airline for domestic travelers who value customer service and don't expect to be pampered with upscale perks like airport lounge access and business class upgrades.

Southwest A-List

How to qualify: Fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year.

Points bonus: 25%

What is Southwest A-List status?

The lowest tier of Southwest's elite status program provides a handful of perks to ease the travel experience. As an A-List member, you'll receive benefits like priority boarding, which is especially useful on Southwest — an airline without assigned seating. Southwest's entry-level benefits are slightly less rewarding when compared to those of other airlines, as Southwest is considered a discount airline. The benefits that are offered, however, will make the airport experience at check-in, security and the gate significantly easier.

Is Southwest A-List status worth it?

Southwest's entry-level status tier provides decent value for the casual domestic traveler. Most benefits provide a bump in convenience and flexibility — such as priority boarding, priority check-in and same-day standby free of airline charges — that will make your airport experience a lot smoother.

Southwest A-List Preferred

How to qualify: Fly 50 qualifying one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier-qualifying points in one calendar year.

Points bonus: 100%

What is Southwest A-List Preferred status?

The second and highest tier of the Rapid Rewards program, A-List Preferred, is similar to the first tier, with two exceptions. First, A-List Preferred has a higher earning bonus on Rapid Rewards points – 100% rather than 25%. Second, A-List Preferred members get free in-flight Wi-Fi, which normally costs $8 per flight.

Is Southwest A-List Preferred status worth it?

The second tier of Southwest's status program provides decent value for moderate travelers. Members at the A-List Preferred level will likely receive the most value from this tier's free Wi-Fi (a value of $16 per round trip) and 100% points-earning bonus. This means that any ticket purchase will earn you double rewards points.

It's worth noting, however, that on airlines such as American and Delta, this status tier provides airport lounge access, a small rewards points boost and occasional seat upgrades.

Southwest Companion Pass

How to qualify: Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

What is Southwest Companion Pass?

Southwest's Companion Pass allows you to designate one person to fly with you for free on Southwest flights for a year. While the Companion Pass isn't exactly an elite status level, the benefit is only available to serious Southwest frequent flyers.

This benefit is the most unique and valuable perk offered by the airline, and isn't offered by any competing airlines. Specifically, the pass allows the benefit-holder to get a two-for-one deal on any Southwest flight and only pay taxes and fees on the second ticket.

Is Southwest Companion Pass worth it?

The Companion Pass is worth it for almost anyone who flies enough to qualify for the benefit. For travelers who want to fly with a partner, the Companion Pass is by far the most useful and valuable benefit — across all U.S. airlines. However, this benefit is less important if you prefer to travel alone or don't mind spending more on airfare when you fly with your significant other.

It's worth bearing in mind as well that the flights and spend required to qualify for Companion Pass would put you in a top-tier status bracket with another airline. If you're more interested in frequent seat upgrades, international transfer partners and airport lounge access, then devoting your business to an airline such as Delta, United or American is a better choice than consolidating flights on Southwest to get the Companion Pass.

Southwest A-List benefits

Compared to major U.S. carriers such as American, Delta and United, Southwest offers fewer benefits to its elite status members. Members of both of Southwest's two elite status tiers get the following benefits:

  • Priority boarding
  • 25% earning bonus
  • Same-day change
  • Same-day standby
  • Dedicated A-List member phone line
  • Priority lane and express lane

Travelers in the highest status tier, A-List Preferred, also receive:

  • Free in-flight Wi-Fi
  • 100% earning bonus
Southwest A-List Status-List
Southwest A-List Preferred
Priority check-inYesYes
Priority boardingYesYes
Point bonus25%100%
Same-day changeYesYes
Same-day standbyYesYes
Free in-flight Wi-FiNoYes

Southwest is a low-cost carrier and has fewer perks and amenities than the major U.S. carriers. Notably, there is no free seat upgrade benefit for Southwest's A-List members — as there are no business or first-class cabins on the airline's planes. There is also no airport lounge access for members, as the airline doesn't have its own network of lounges. However, if you're a frequent flyer on Southwest and are interested in airport lounge access, you can consider opening a credit card with a lounge access benefit.

If, however, you're looking to get free first-class seats and earn and redeem miles for international flights, elite status on Southwest won't provide much benefit to you.

How to get Southwest A-List status

To qualify for the lowest level of elite status on Southwest, you have to fly at least 25 one-way flights in one calendar year or earn 35,000 tier-qualifying points. Compared to other major carriers' elite status programs, Southwest has the most lenient entry-level requirements for flights.

A-List Preferred
Companion Pass
One-way flights2550100
Tier-qualifying points35,00070,000125,000

Southwest's A-List status tier has a slightly higher points requirement than other airlines’ entry-level programs, but the airline also makes it easier to earn points. Tickets in Southwest's cheapest fare class, Wanna Get Away, earn 6 points per dollar, and fares in regular economy receive 10 points per dollar. Other airlines generally don’t count points earned on their cheapest ticket class ("basic economy") toward status eligibility.

Fare type
Wanna Get Away
Wanna Get Away Plus
Business Select
Points per dollar681012

Shortcuts to getting Southwest A-List status

There are a few ways to create shortcuts on your path to Southwest A-List status that are worth considering for dedicated Southwest flyers.

Consider a Southwest credit card

Southwest offers three personal credit cards that come with travel benefits and spending rewards. For an annual fee, each card offers a spending bonus and an annual points bonus.

While none of the cards provide airport experience benefits comparable to A-List and A-List Preferred status, they do have some of the most competitive points bonus sign-up offers. However, this benefit is only worth it if you're okay with redeeming those points for coach class tickets on Southwest, as there are no business or first-class options with the airline.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards<sup>®</sup> Priority Credit Card
Annual fee$69$99$149
Annual bonus3,000 points6,000 points7,500 points + $75 annual travel credit
Earning rateEarn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
Annual upgraded boardings004
Cash back on in-flight purchases25%25%25%
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Many other airline loyalty programs offer the option to "status match." This means that if you can prove you have elite status with another domestic airline, Southwest will match your status in their loyalty program for a few months as a free trial period. If you complete the accelerated flight requirements within a designated period of time, Southwest will allow you to keep your status through the following year. Specifically, you'll be eligible to keep your matched status if you book and fly three round trip qualifying flights, or six one-way qualifying flights within 90 days of your enrollment date.

These flights earn 12 points per dollar, the highest number of points you can earn on Southwest flights. The more you book this fare class, the faster you can earn elite status.

Should you get Southwest A-List Status?

If you’re an avid Southwest flyer, you can definitely benefit from A-List Status. The priority boarding benefit alone can save you significant headaches when boarding the plane, as you'll get first pick at the best seats and have access to the most overhead bin space if you're traveling with carry-on luggage.

That said, if you're not loyal to Southwest and you’d prefer benefits like airport lounge access and seat upgrades, you may want to consider other airline elite status options instead. You could also consider signing up for a general travel rewards credit card, which tends to offer flexible perks with a variety of airlines and hotel rewards programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Southwest A-List Status is an elite status level within the airline's loyalty program. If you earn this status by flying Southwest frequently enough or earning enough points, you can receive perks including priority boarding, same-day changes, priority check-in and more.

Southwest A-List Status lasts for the rest of the year in which you earned it and through the following calendar year.

Yes, both Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred do receive priority boarding as a perk of their status.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).