Southwest Extends Expiration Dates, Eliminates Blackouts
||:: Late-Breaking News
(Posted: Aug 10, 2005)
Southwest Airlines has announced remarkable changes to its Rapid Rewards program. From Aug. 10, the carrier will allow members 24 months (instead of the current 12 months) to earn credits toward free travel. As of Feb. 10, 2006, the carrier will remove system-wide blackout dates and implement seat restrictions for award travel.
Southwest says its research and member polling revealed that the changes flyers wanted most were more time to earn credits and no system-wide blackout dates for Award travel.
Members? existing credits immediately will be extended for an additional 12 months, giving current members two years to earn award travel on Southwest. For awards issued Feb. 10, 2006, or after, seat restrictions will apply. System-wide blackout dates also will be removed, but certain holiday or peak travel periods will be in high demand and may be difficult times to redeem Award travel. Unexpired awards issued before Feb. 10, 2006, are unrestricted, even if redeemed after that date. Awards will continue to be valid for travel 12 months from the date of issue.
Southwest says it is exploring ways to provide an award ?seat finder? on its Web site to help members locate dates and flights when award seats will be available.
posted: Aug 12, 2005 at 4:35am (MT)
This is a TERRIBLE change! The extension of credit expiration from 12 months to 24 months is most likely in response to the recent reduction and then elimination of the online booking bonus credits. The addition of capacity controls makes the Southwest Rapid Rewards program one of the worst frequent flyer programs in the US. If they need to add an award "seat finder" on their web site to help members locate dates and flights when award seats are available, you can be sure that your hard-earned awards will be hard-to-use when you want.
Southwest should change their ad slogan to "You are now RESTRICTED to move about the country."
posted: Sep 9, 2005 at 3:24am (MT)
I ABSOLUTLEY agree with Chris. SWA used to have the BEST rewards program and often I drove extra distance on business travel just to fly SWA. The elimination of on-line bonus credits and seat restrictions on awards will make me MUCH less likely to do so. VERY dissapointed Southwest!
posted: Sep 12, 2005 at 7:24pm (MT)
This is a horrible change indeed. For me the ONLY valuable feature of the SWA FFP was the fact that all awards were in effect "Anytime" awards and could be used like full-fare tickets for last minute travel. Now this progam is like any other program out there, only worse. There are no upgrade awards, no partner airlines, and no international award options. SWA has lost my respect and loyalty completely. Once my current year's paid membership is over I am going to cancel my SWA Visa credit card because this program is going to be effectively worthless after Feb 10 2006.
posted: Sep 21, 2005 at 4:53pm (MT)
would have to agree the changes are bad. By adding seat capacity controls it eliminiates any advantage they had to other programs. If you add the negatives, lack of partners, no international routes, then WN's program is much less attractive than its competitors,
posted: May 28, 2006 at 7:00pm (MT)
I suppose it depends on how restrictive the seat restrictions are. It is now May 28, and I just bought three rapid rewards tickets on my preferred flight on June 18 (a Sunday) with no problem. If you want to experience seat restrictions, try booking a frequent-flier flight on United from San Francisco to Maui 330 days in advance and see what you get. Or, try booking a frequent-flier flight to Bozeman on Delta (the armpit of airlines) any time; it is impossible.
posted: Jan 17, 2007 at 12:46am (MT)
Southwest now blacks out the old blackout dates plus many more additional dates by setting the capacity restrictions so low that many times only a single seat will be available to award travelers. It is near impossible to get an award seat around the holidays now. Instead of 5 blackout days around Christmas - New Years in 2006, there was almost 2-3 weeks of blackout days.
posted: Feb 18, 2007 at 10:53pm (MT)
I just tried looking for award tickets for my favorite vacation destination....Vegas. For 3-4 solid weeks in April/May, I can't get a return flight on a Sunday at all. One week I can get it, but it's a connection and is at 6:20am (ALL other flights that day are nonstop to my home city).
Totally agree with the last post......this effectively gives SWA the ability to have an unlimited amount of blackout dates.
I was a loyal SWA customer for years, but no longer see the benefit of using them as my preferred carrier, now that they're treating me like every other airline (or worse).
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