Some end-of-the-year holiday-related travels helped me to surpass the “points” thresholds for two Southwest Airlines loyalty programs:
A-List Status gives me Priority Boarding, among other small perks. This will ensure that I get a window seat, unobstructed by a wing, and on the opposite side of the sun. I’m in the same camp as Marc Reisner, author of Cadillac Desert, who wrote, “I believe that anyone who flies in an airplane and doesn’t spend most of his time looking out the window wastes his money.”
Companion Pass is a much bigger deal: it allows Amanda to join me on every flight in 2013, for free! (Well, almost for free — there is a $10 security fee for each round-trip flight.) This should go a long way in offsetting a chronic strain in our relationship: my endless traveling.
Of course, to qualify for these Southwest programs, you have to fly a lot. (It helps to be savvy with credit card offers and with the charging of expenses, too.) And that’s why receiving A-List Status and the Companion Pass simultaneously induces both excitement and pause. “Really, I flew that many times this year, rented that many vehicles, stayed in that many motel rooms, and charged that much to my credit cards?”
The amassing of so many “points” is perhaps an indication that I was “more successful” in 2012 than ever before, which I suppose is true. But sometimes I wonder if I was “more alive” during the years when I spent 6-12 months sleeping on the ground, flying only to start or to return from a trip.
Between this and other developments — notably a very serious girlfriend, home ownership, and a surging business – some readers might think they are watching the decline of an adventurer. But you’re not — this is all part of my long-term plan, in which I am going to have my cake and eat it too.
Why I LUV Southwest
Southwest Airlines has been my go-to airline since college — when I would fly home from RDU to PVD with a BWI layover — and it’s increasingly become an important component of my business. Here’s why:
1. Denver International Airport (DEN), my home airport, is a major Southwest hub from which there are many direct flights both eastward and westward.
2. Southwest’s fares are always competitive, if not the lowest. Even when there is a cheaper flight with another airline, I will happily pay a small premium for two critical Southwest policies:
- No baggage fees! I rarely fly without 1-2 suitcases filled with demo gear, books, and personal items. This amounts to a $50-100 savings on each round-trip.
- No change fees! My guided trips and presentations sometimes get reshuffled, and unlike other airlines Southwest does not charge fees when I change my itinerary. If the new fare is more expensive than the original, I will have to pay the difference; but if it’s less, Southwest actually credits my account for use on future flights.
Happy New Year, Southwest. I look forward to seeing more of you in 2013.