Southwest Rapid Rewards Program Devaluation

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I received an email two days ago from Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. You may or may not have heard that their loyalty program is getting devalued.

We want to inform you of an upcoming change to the Rapid Rewards® Program that will affect the number of points needed for reward travel. Wanna Get Away® reward flight bookings made on or after March 31, 2014 will require 70 points per dollar. This is an increase from the 60 points per dollar currently required. Anytime and Business Select® reward flight redemption rates, as well as the points per dollar you earn when flying, will remain the same as they are today.

What a shame. That is about a 15% devaluation.

For example, the flight I took to Austin earlier this year that cost about 13K points would now cost over 15K points.

Gary has a great viewpoint on the situation. He says that there is “no reason that a revenue-based program ever has to devalue at all” and I agree.

The point values are directly correlated to the prices of the airfare so there is no real hustling of this program to get a deal for the consumer.

The only reason I see Southwest doing this is because they’ve minted too many points (see all the Chase Southwest 50K offers – they are back, by the way) and feel that this is a way to reduce costs.

Either that or they were too aggressive in pricing their original reward redemption rates of 60 points per dollar and decided that now was the time to correct that.

I doubt we’ll find out either way, but a loss is a loss.

However, I still do like Southwest for a variety of reasons:

  • No cancellation fees
  • “Bags fly free”
  • Their flight crews are generally very pleasant
  • Orderly boarding process at the gate
  • If you travel with a partner, the Companion Pass is probably the best deal in domestic travel!