The infamous 2020 is soon coming to an end (and, if you ask me, its about time!). Although we still aren’t clear what travel is going to look like for 2021 and beyond, now is the time to at least start thinking about what you would like your travel goals to look like.

If you’re like many travelers, you may not be focused on much international travel. Given many countries still haven’t started reopening to Americans we simply don’t know what international travel is going to look like in 2021. 

For travelers looking for the best value in domestic travel, your eyes should be on the Southwest Companion Pass

If you’re not familiar with the Southwest Companion Pass, it is a buy one get one free ticket on Southwest. You only need to pay taxes and fees on the “free” ticket.

Normally, the Southwest Companion Pass has unlimited uses for the year you earn it and the following year. However, right now Southwest is offering a limited time offer that will help you try out the companion pass for a limited time next year.

Let’s dive in to this offer and show you how you can try out the companion pass!

Special Offer

Right now, the best way to get the Companion Pass is a special, limited-time offer from Southwest. To be sure you get the offer you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Register for the promotion on the promotion page
  2. Purchase a flight by September 24th
  3. Take that flight by November 15th

If you complete these steps you’ll receive a temporary companion pass that starts January 6th and lasts through February 28th, 2021. 

While that isn’t nearly as good as timing the companion pass to last 2 years, it is a relatively simple way to try it out without having to open any credit cards

The Fine Print

There is some fine print you need to know about this offer before proceeding.

First, the flight must be a revenue flight. Award tickets are not eligible to earn the limited-time companion pass.

Second, the travel can be one-way, with no limitation on how cheap the flight has to be.

Third, you only need to book one ticket for one person. Whoever has registered for the promo, books the flight, and completes it is eligible for the limited-time companion pass.

Finally, the limited-time companion pass won’t be active until January 6th, so you won’t be able to add a companion before then. During the promotional period, you can change your companion up to 3 times by calling Southwest at 1-800-435-9792.

Best Ways to Earn The Companion Pass During this Promotional Period

The best way to earn the companion pass during this promotional period is to simply find a cheap one-way or round-trip flight and book it. There are a lot of flights that only cost around $45 one-way, such as this one between Houston (HOU) and Dallas (DAL).

The other way is, take an actual trip! If you already have a trip scheduled with Southwest between now and November 15th, you may want to see if the fare has changed. If not, you can simply register for the promotion, rebook your trip, and then earn your limited-time companion pass for a trip you were already planning to take.

Best Ways to use The Companion Pass

If you earn your temporary companion pass, I’d be eyeing a winter island getaway. Flights to Hawaii are costing around 9,000 points and more in February each way. 

With the islands planning to start reopening in October for travelers who test negative for COVID, this could be a great place to travel. 

Other destinations such as Aruba are starting to allow visitors. Of course, you can also take plenty of domestic trips as well.

Is This Limited-Time Offer Worth It?

This is really the big question. Many people jump on offers without evaluating if it is actually worth it to them or not. 

One of the biggest downsides of the limited time companion pass is simply the short duration. Most people won’t be able to squeeze in more than one or two vacations during the promotional period. If you are able, it is definitely worth it, otherwise I’d hesitate to jump on it unless you already had a Southwest trip planned.

If you’re booking a trip simply to get the limited-time companion pass and you’re only able to use it once, it may not be worth it. You’ll have to pay for the trip now, just to save on one ticket later. You’re still buying 2 tickets, and if one is just to earn the limited-time companion pass then it is effectively a wash unless you’re getting it at a significant discount. With Southwest’s reasonable fares, for most people you’d be booking extra travel only to potentially save about $100.

You need to evaluate your own travel plans and decide if it works for you to save overall. In general I’d say it is worth it in the following circumstances:

  • You are rebooking a trip for little to no price increase for travel between now and November 15th
  • You are planning to take more than one trip during the limited time companion pass period
  • The trip you are planning to take during the limited time companion pass period costs significantly more than the trip needed to earn the companion pass

If you can make it work, it is definitely a great opportunity to get some more travel in early next year.

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