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New Southwest Rapid Rewards Program Gets Mixed Reviews

New Southwest Rapid Rewards Program Gets Mixed Reviews

Reactions to Southwest’s newly announced Rapid Rewards program have been decidedly mixed.

Within hours of the unveiling, the Internet was awash in comments. And for every thumbs-up, there was a countervailing note of no confidence.

Here’s a random sampling of comments from travelers and travel bloggers:

  • Noticed that you commented on the SWA Rapid Rewards program as outdated and needing to be updated. I think this comment was very narrow-minded and uninformed. I hope you take the time to review the hundreds of comments on SWA’s Facebook page and realize their program was the standard that all other program should have been trying to reach. Today’s announcement is a sad demonstration of change in a corporation for no good reason.  (Bob Z. via email)
  • The new program is much less exploitable than the old one. This also is intentional. It provides value that is much more closely linked to the value that you, the customer, provide to Southwest. Like it or not, you must agree that this is more fair.  (nsx on FlyerTalk)
  • As a 20 year loyal customer of Southwest, I cancelled my two Rapid Rewards credit cards and began booking Alaska Airlines instead after hearing about this fiasco. This is a terrible shift for Southwest’s flyers, especially if you travel on relatively short flights. Under the current system, you get to fly anywhwere in their system one way after eight flights of any length. This new system requires you to fly 10 times for a reward that only corresponds to your average ticket price.  (AngryAtSWA on SmarterTravel)
  • As with anything change brings winners and losers. The winners (besides the airline) are infrequent travelers such as my young children who will get better value from the program as their points won’t expire. Also people who normally buy high-fare tickets will see a better ROI. The losers include those who frequently fly short-haul routes on southwest’s lowest fares. But that was too good of a deal to last forever. The new program is a devaluation to these flyers, but probably a boon to everyone else. Despite the huge outcry, I predict many "angry" travelers will continue to fly southwest because overall the price will be generally be the lowest when you factor free checked luggage and no fees to cancel or change your ticket.  (Boraxo on SmarterTravel)
  • The new program is remarkably similar to that of San Francisco-based Virgin America and it’s part of a trend among all airlines to programs that are more based on how much members spend than how far they fly. Southwest’s new program also picked up a unique component from AirTran, which will allow members to "buy" tickets on other airlines to destinations not served by Southwest.  (Chris McGinnis in The BAT)
  • Overall, I like what they’ve done here. The earning and redeeming is very simple and sensible. The increased tiering of the program bugs me as someone who has been flying Southwest since Rapid Rewards was the Company Club, but I understand why they’re doing it. It’s all about catering to the top travelers, even though that’s historically a very un-Southwesty thing to do. The only thing I don’t like is the credit card requirement for non-Southwest redemption, but overall, they’ve done a really good job here.  (Brett Snyder on The Cranky Flyer)
  • In my experience the other low cost carriers view their frequent flyer programs as a tax rather than a profit center, something they’re obliged to offer because everyone else does and something they just want to keep as inexpensive to run as possible. Seems that Southwest has gone the same direction, squeeze out expense and benefits while pretending they’re offering a strong value proposition… It’s also far more complex than a straightforward mileage system that consumers already "get" and more complex than a credits system based on flights flown. How many customers can do the math without Excel? This program holds zero appeal for me.  (Gary Leff on View From the Wing)
  • Finally, an airline that awards frequent flier points based on the dollars you spend versus miles traveled. I never understood why a $200 flight across the country should be deemed by the airline as more deserving of rewards than an $800 flight on a short regional flight. After flying from DC to LA for two and a half years, I can’t say I ever complained though!  (Jeff S. via email)

Winners and Losers

Why the stunning divergence of opinion?

With earning rates keyed to both ticket prices and fare types, the new program is significantly more rewarding for travelers who travel on less restrictive, higher-priced fares (Business Select, Anytime) and redeem their points for low-priced Wanna Get Away tickets. That’s by design. And it’s both logical and fair, in my view. But for travelers who normally earn their points for cheaper, restricted tickets, the change will amount to a downgrade: They’ll have to fly more to earn a free ticket.

There are, in other words, winners and losers.

In addition to the change in the underlying value proposition, there’s a disconcerting shift away from Southwest’s legendary egalitarianism, in which all customers are treated equally. The airline’s increasing focus on the business-travel market has required a more differentiated approach, with special perks on offer to travelers willing and able to pay a premium for Anytime and Business Select fares.

The new Rapid Rewards program solidifies that transition to a class-based approach to pricing and services, and the elitism implicit in the new scheme is odious to some.

Also jarring to longtime Rapid Rewards partisans is the loss of the current program’s refreshing simplicity. The straightforward value proposition—Fly 16 times to earn a free ticket—will be replaced with a system that literally requires a calculator to manage.

Change is hard, especially if the benefits are questionable.

Southwest’s Big Bet

Southwest expects the new program to generate an extra several hundred million dollars in annual revenue, partly from more ticket sales to more, and more engaged, Rapid Rewards customers.

That means they’re betting there will be more converts to the new Rapid Rewards than there will be naysayers.

It will be a year or more before that can be reality-checked. My bet, though, is that Rapid Rewards 2.0 will pay off big for Southwest.

Reader Reality Check

What’s your bet?

Is the new program a winner or a loser?

(For more news like this, sign up to receive our free weekly newsletter. You can follow us on Twitter, too.)

  • Gail

    Are they saying that the dollars on merchandise and services using my SW Visa will no longer be accruing me points toward a free ticket on SW Airlines?

  • Tim Winship

    Gail – Purchases made with the RR Visa credit card will continue to earn points as before.

  • MetroD

    I guess we need to get used to it. SW is still a good deal compared to other airlines. They’re in business to make money and they need to do what will continue to bring in the bucks.
    Cheers,
    Interior Designer Detroit

  • DS

    Frankly, as a frequent traveler on short NC-PA flights, this change will now have me using my US Air credit card as often they are less expensive for my trips. I stayed with Southwest because their RR program was tops and as the author above pointed out, classless. They have now gone, like everything else in thos nation to a “rich is better” program.

  • keith

    A program reboot with some winners and some losers beats a program with just losers…doesn’t it?

  • RChampion

    It used to be easy. 8 round trips on cramped planes after the race online to get get a decent seat assignment for 1 free trip. New program is just like the rest. Switching airlines so at least I can get a reserved seat. SW- say goodby to my 30 plus flights a year. Delta or Continental will get them now.

  • Jim

    Keith claims that he is now going to change to USAir instead of SWA because of this change because they are “cheaper”. But don’t forget – every change on USAir is a $150 change fee plus the fare difference – but SWA has no change fee – nor a bag charge. Doubt that USAir is a viable alternative to SWA – I used to be top level on USAir – but left them long ago because of their dismal service, dirty planes, and rude employees.

  • Mark

    Not a good move. Now American and US AIR provide superior values for using their card and FF programs for long hauls. The short hauls are fine for SW – and we’ll just pay for the cheapest flight. The new program has FAR LESS value and attraction to our company and employees. We will likely fly MUCH LESS with Southwest.

  • Paul

    Who are all these people that make all of these last minute changes? And if you travel with any frequency and stay with one airline, you will get free bag check as a perk. Many times SW is not the cheapest fare, and big deal about the possibility of international/Hawaii flights…surely you would have to change planes at least once or twice and it would end up taking a day just getting there. I will now shop on most direct routes and price instead of giving loyalty to SWA. Like so many others have said, it was a great ride while it lasted…good luck with your “new Coke” of a program!

  • Jim G

    I think the arguments about change fees and bags are relevant only if you are an infrequent flier. I don’t pay bag fees (due to status) with UA (an in some years AA). The last time I wanted to fly SW earlier in the day I could – for the difference in fare (apx $300). The last time I wanted to do it on UA I showed up and they confirmed me. No additional charge. If I were back in a market served by SW I’d probably see it as a win as I’m a frequent last minute business traveler – the expiration and cost elements would work for me. It wouldn’t make me aim for elite as I do with UA and (to a lesser extent AA) but it would remove a couple of the reasons I struggled to avoid SW. The egalitarian approach to miles (all fares in a given class accrue the same mileage) is what skews my flight spend to UA over AA. As a frequent coach traveler (and one who travels internationally) UA’s Mileage Plus and Star Alliance stand well ahead of the rest.

  • Bob

    I fly on the West Coast, and have been flying exclusively on SW at the expense of Alaska for the last few years. I switched because of the Rapid Rewards program.

    SW has been fine, but many of the flights require plane changes and thus take twice as long. I don’t care about free bags because I don’t check anything.

    I have rewards credit cards without a yearly fee too. When I look at this new program, I think I may be giving up the Chase card and using the free card that gives me points on all the Airlines.

    I think it will be interesting to see if they actually do make more money from this. I think it will at least make the planes a bit less crowded.

  • Maggie

    I don’t think anyone should comment about the new program. Let the market decide. They have done their job. And who knows how many “comments” are being made by Southwest? Give no information and the public reaction will make it’s own ‘announcement’ in a year or so.

  • Hugh J.

    Southwest was unfair as hell in giving people only 1.5 months to accumulate 100 RR credits to earn a Companion award that was previously on a rolling 12-month basis and now on a calendar year basis. I’m sure there are other folks out there who have 60 to 90 credits from last spring/summer until now and would have gotten their 100 credits by this summer but that’s now impossible due to imposition of Southwest’s new complicated program (RR 2.0).

  • Larry

    SWA doesn’t make changes to a successful program to help the customer. It is to help the corporation and minimize negative responses by the customer. I have flown nothing but SW for the past 10 years out of KC. I will now have to consider Frontier and others where I used to not even look at other airlines.

  • Steve T.

    I am a big fan of Southwest and the Rapid Rewards Program. Southwest has been the most consumer friendly of any airline and the most generous. They are responsible for low fares and “The Southwest Effect”. I am not happy with the changes to their Rapid Reward program, however from a Business Standpoint I feel it something they had to do. All good things unfortunately come to an end.

  • william hoover

    This new SW rewards program is bad for me. I fly alot Sacto to LA & Sacto to Las vegas. So, instead of me getting 4 credits for 2 R/T flights. I get much less because of the short distance of the flights. I preferred the old SW rewards program.

  • Jerry

    Did anyone notice that it now takes 10/20 segments to get the same value ticket, as opposed to 8/16 segments which could be used on any flight of equal or greater value.

  • Michelle

    Old program: LAX to MCO–had to spend $19200 on my RR credit card to get a seat on this flight
    New program: LAX to MCO–will have to spend $28860 to $57720 on my RR credit card to get a Wanna Get Away to Business Select seat.
    How is this better?? United, Frontier will only cost me $25000. I will be cancelling my Southwest card.

  • Tracy

    I earn about 150,000 southwest points on my visa each year and have loved using my free tickets. Now, my credit card miles will only earn about 1/2 the tickets, at best. I am now changing credit cards because the SWA card is just like all the rest now…and I have more city options with other airlines. Goodbye SWA. I will miss you. :)

  • iahphx2

    One aspect of Southwest’s advertising had been surprisingly deceptive. They claim your old credits are “safe.” I dont know why they say this knowing this is not true. If you are not a very frequent flyer, it is virtually guaranteed that credits in your account on 3.1.2011 will be confiscated by Southwest. The reason is that you will likely need to fly 2 flights instead of one to earn a single credit. As a result, old credits in your account will expire before you can reach 16 credits.

    Shame on Southwest for this deception!

  • Dave Robinson

    Someone above pointed it out quite simply. Chase even knows they are getting screwed on this. Chase is offering 20,000 points to open an account. Well depending where you fly, Chicago to Phoenix, this is not even enough credits/points/whatever they call it now. Yes, if you book Anytime fares or Business Select you get the mega points. But for me who chose to fly Southwest for business trips monthly from Chicago to Minneapolis – there is no advantage to me. In fact, it hurts me more. Companies make business decisions to better themselves…not that of the customers. Week minded people listen to marketing schemes. (pyramid schemes) Do the math though. Flight to Phoenix is $380 r/t if you get it early enough. To get RR average of 25,000 for the flight, I need to spend at minimum $4166 at the Get Away Fare.

    By Chase Credit Card…no advantages versus better credit cards. AA will be happy to take my business back.

  • Steve

    The new Southwest AL RR program drives a stake through the heart of Herb Kelleher. He created a company that was the opposite of all its competitors. Unlike them, it treated its customers well. It was counterintuitive, but Southwest made a ton of money. A true win-win. The new corporate suits haven’t got a clue. You can’t be successful by treating your customers like dirt or pawns. It looks good to the bean counters, but it simply won’t work. If the customers lose, ultimately, the company will lose.

  • Randy Shinn

    Southwest has effectively alienated it’s hard core customers. Like Vegas who relies on the slot machine players to stay viable, the RR program was the backbone of their success. It’s a shame they see it differently….. They are dead wrong with this change and will see the results on the bottom line. And one can only hope they can get the website up and running.

  • Rachel

    Such a shame! I was just about to make the big switch from UA (and planning to take my credit card with me). Now I can’t see any point. This new program replicates everything I hate about UA: an overcomplicated, patronizing system, designed to benefit businessmen (and women) flying on the company dime and absolutely no-one else.

  • rez

    New system does not allow you to convert your old awards to credits. You can also not convert standard awards to freedom awards. You are stuck with whatever you had at the end of Feb. This will cause a lot of unused awards, I guess that is what SW wants. Is the only airline I have flown in last 8 years. I will now be looking at others. SW no longer fills my needs because of the changes.

  • Nick G.

    It’s too bad. I frequently fly from Chicago to Boston and back, booking far enough ahead of time such that all airlines are of similar cost to me. Now that its more difficult to earn A-List status and free flights with Southwest, I’ll most certainly be pricing my best option now as opposed to flying Southwest by default. Catering to those alone who are willing to pay more may seem an obvious option for Southwest, but I wonder if the cost-benefit of using us lower-end types in relative mass will not make things even in the end.

  • Nick G.

    Sorry. Meant to say “losing us low-end folks en masse” not “using.” You catch my drift!

  • JJ in Chicago

    As a loyal Southwest customer, I am not very happy with these changes. This is the type of change that will alienate your biggest supporters. With Virgin America coming to Chicago (and other new places), I think Southwest has some stiff competition.

    Virgin has swanky new planes with internet service and movies, and the fares are comparable to Southwest.

  • Mark

    Terrible, terrible terrible. I have been flying SWA for years. It is shameful that they market this new RR as a better plan. In no way is this better for the end user other than the $800 round trip booking Business Select user. Even for them I’m not so sure. I hope people make their feelings know on the internet to cause change! It used to cost 19,500 points for a free round trip. Now a round trip can cost you about 100,000 points if you wait and book it within 7 days on the anytime fair. They are now the same as the rest like United. This was such a wonderful airline, what is happening. Even calling there 800 # they used to pick right up, now 20 min wait. Shameful!

  • Rick

    I can’t believe how SW screwed their loyal customers. I fly weekly and use a carry on. I never check a suitcase. I used to skip flying Frontier or United BECAUSE of the Rapid Rewards program, even if it meant changing planes, layovers or even if it was more expensive. After totally reviewing what has happened, that will no longer be the case. This week I’m heading back to Frontier, I am sure they and other airlines LOVE the new SW RR program, and they will see INCREASED business because of this. Good bye SW, it was a fun ride while it lasted……………..

  • Delma

    I used to bear standing in line (like in grade school) next to a number, elbow to elbow waitng for the cattle call to see who would get the “best seats” on the airbus. Then listen to some lame jokes, get a small glass of coke, peanuts and hop and skip all the way from Florida to California (Hours and hours). I did this because of the RR program. NOW, that is a thing of the past. I can catch a non-stop and be there in 5-6 hours versus 10-12. ADIOS SW, you may have screwed your loyal customers ROYALLY, but in the end, you will see you ultimately screwed YOURSELF!

  • Steve

    As soon as I earn my next ticket – I’m done with SW. Actually disincentive me for being a good consumer. I just flew coast to coast and I received LESS (1133 points) then I did for a 500 mile trip last month (equiv to 1200 points). Sucking up to the business fliers at our expense. Seriously, 3 more flights and it’s over to Alaska and Frontier for me.

  • Michael

    AWFUL AWFUL!! They have really screwed us. Try to book a flight with new points – TONS available at VERY LOW point totals. Try to book the SAME FLIGHTS with standard awards? NOTHING AVAILABLE!! This is nothing short of a stealth, mean-spirited devaluing of existing free travel awards. SHAME SHAME Southwest!!!

  • Patrick Cressy

    This is an unmitaged disaster for Southwest. Try calling the 800 number; you won’t get through. Try changing an award ticket at the last minute; you will be penalized. I cannot believe the executives at Southwest really believe they will reap 100′s of millions of dollars for this change. Why would you pay double to just be a couple of places ahead in the line? Where is Herb when you need him?!

  • James

    I am very unhappy with the new Southwest program and will be looking for a new program. I am currently A list and have a companion pass. I feel they really don’t care about me and don’t want my business. They are encouraging that I charge my company for an expensive flight just to get points–that borders on being immoral! I am out the door!

  • Jane Ruth

    Truly an unSouthwest move. How very disappointing! They touted the program as new and better, but it’s a ruse–it’s strictly $montivated, and the consumer is the loser. In past years, one felt the RR program was really rewarding, and very generous on SW’s part.The more you flew, the better it was all around. It really made you luv them back, and remain loyal to their program. I was always amazed as I stood in borading lines how fellow flyers would talk up the greatness of the airline –what a phenomenon! I thought that geinus on the part of Gary Kelly! Any CEO who can create that unsolicited, unpaid fervor is an outstanding corporate gift. Who would have ever thought an airline could generate such devotion and word-of-mouth promotion? Sadly, the kibitz in the lines in recent days are one of frustration and feelings of being jilted. Clearly the luv is fading. The current program rewards only those who spend top dollar, not the ones who travel frequently and loyally. I now compare other airlines before I book my twice weekly flights, something I never did before the change, it was SW and only SW in years past.
    The fare hikes were one thing (and understandable to some extent) but the RR changes are confusingly misleading. If you’re an A-List preferred, there’s no edge or advantage any longer. I’m using up my credits and then I’ll be back to floating between US AIr, United, and all the others who already act like this. BYW, I’ve been on hold through this entire writing using their new RR number exclusivly reserved for A-List members—it’s been about 15 min and still no one has picked-up. Maybe I dialed US AIr??!
    Sadly resigned—A-List member #16

  • CM

    Always considered Southwest an option for me when I travelled. This has gone from “consider” to never, ever consider unless the flight is pleasure and cheap, cheap, cheap as my flights are Detroit – Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Baltimore, etc. Going with Delta out of Detroit. Already have no fee baggage as most frequent travellers do. This new program is so different from the old that it is unrecognizable. Terrible move and one that as more find out what exactly it means the more the reviews will be negative.
    - A Delta Gold Member thru 2013

  • Randal

    I’m not a very frequent flyer and so was thrilled to earn a free flight on Southwest. Just went to book it and found that my credits no longer add up to a free flight. In fact I’m about 10 more flights away from actually getting a free flight. It feels like getting robbed, and my opinion of Southwest will be colored by that opinion until they make good. There’s a lot that’s been good about Southwest, but loyalty is as loyalty does. I will certainly consider other airlines in the future, and things being close to equal will use the competition first.

  • Lyn

    Just tried to use it for the first time. My “old” awards are blocked out for the whole month of July! My “new” credits are so dilluted I can’t even use them to buy the tickets. I suppose it is more in line with other programs now, good job. You’ve lowered the bar to your competitors. I think I will opt for one of the competitors over you if it is close, at least then I *know* that I am getting screwed, instead of being told how “exciting” it is!

  • Okie Joe

    I’ve been an intensely loyal SW flier, stockholder and fan for many years because they were different. And, lest we forget, they were profitable. But they have shafted their base to seek the pot of gold at the end of the business class rainbow.

    My Southwest stock has been sold. I will fly Southwest for the rest of 2011, using all of my 11 free round trips and my companion pass as often as possible. And when all my rewards are used up, I’ll shred my SW Visa cards and take my business elsewhere.

    And if anyone thinks the new system is a better deal for the customer, just go the website, pick some real flights, and do the math.

  • Rae

    Thumbs down. The biggest incentives to fly Southwest were always 1) the free checked bags and 2) easy-to-accrue rewards. I pack light and don’t check bags anyway, and now Southwest’s FF program is just the same as everyone else’s — so what incentive do I have to go out of my way to fly on Southwest? Not much, that’s for sure. In my mind, now SWA is just lumped in with all the other legacy carriers and their “fuzzy math” FF programs. I was seriously considering getting the SWA Chase Card late last year, but that is DEFINITELY not happening now!

  • JR

    Yeah, I always thought it was a steal when I, as a “semi-frequent” flier, got a flight out to Florida for free after doing mostly short bumps to LA or Vegas and the occasional trek to Chicago, so I can understand SWA wanting to maximize their customers’ investment; still incredibly frustrating daresay angering to realize that my current credits have essentially decreased in value by half on most flights now, however, and the “no blackouts!” doesn’t mean squat when there is but a small amount of RR seats on given flights.

  • Gina

    No longer a SW Flyer. As soon as I earned my last reward.I Switched to other airlines due to the change in RR progam. It is a really bad deal for the loyal SW flyers. Shame on SW. The other airlines must love them for all the customers that are switching.

  • jim

    I have spent hours on hold–what happened to customer service on Southwest. I cannot even get the customer service to answer! What a mess! I “lost” two of my rewards–after 45 minutes on hold and two days (when they finally straightened it out). Like another writer said, I will use the coupons I have and then shred both of my Southwest Visa cards! I hate the new system.

  • jim

    Glad to hear the Frontier is a good option. I will miss Southwest…but I am out the door.

  • gerard

    The conversion to points is a real rip. I have credits that I have been saving for 6 months before the notification and only needed four more for a round trip flight.

    I took a round trip flight after conversion and was given 1000 points, not enough to buy one credit, but under the old system, two credits. So Southwest entered an agreement with me (16 flights for a free flight in the period of two years) and then reneged when they felt like it.

    I think a class action suit is the answer for this. Anyone who had credits before the point system was announced should be given credits until they reach the free flight.

    I emailed Southwest, and got a response that did even address my concern.

  • Marilyn

    I am not sure how I feel about the new program. I just want the Awards I earned in the previous program to be honored. I was shocked when I went to reactivate my Awards to use towards a flight and saw that they had been cancelled. I spent one entire day calling their customer service. I started the next day at 7:00 and finally got someone. I am now waiting for a manager to call back. They claim that the rules regarding expiration dates had not changed, they were only being liberal and making exceptions in allowing the addition 24 months to use the Award. All though their website stated 24 months and several times I was told not to use old Awards, but to use current and unexpired Awards for travel. Now I have no clue when my remaining Awards expire. For a program that say Don’t worry your Awards are safe….Not when they are now gone. In their email they stated that they are sorry that they had caused disappointment. I don’t think it is disappointment, maybe in SWA, that I feel. I lost money and faith in an airline that up until today, was my chosen carrier for all locations the flew.

  • John

    I agree that this new program is unfair. In addition, today I learned that they will no longer post my earned points, which used to post like clockwork on the 28th of the month the day my credit card closed, until the 4th of the following month. Now, not only are our points worth less, but they keep them from you longer. I am not happy!!!

  • Chuck Butler

    This is a horrible change for anyone that had earned rewards under the old system. Mine are all but unusable now. They (Southwest Reps) keep saying that nothing has changed but the truth is you can not find flights within reasonable planning time frames that allow use of the old award tickets. They have also taken the conversion of two tickets to “freedom awards” away. That has left me with 18 virtually worthless award tickets. I never would have thought Southwest Airlines would start doing this kind of cut throat business.

  • Chuck Butler

    I would be interested in joining a class action suit for the loss of value that my old rewards represent.

    If anyone is of like mind please post and let’s get the ball rolling.

  • Mike S.

    Other posts have said it all. I now will fly off my awards and I’m going with another carrier. Way to screw your loyal customers! Stunningly stupid as it seems the loyal base will be leaving in droves. Goodbye Southwest.

  • Dave in Dallas

    I’m a 25 year loyal customer with a-list and companion pass for the last few years. Went to book flight from Dallas to Oakland 3days out and it was 87,000 points. My last two trips from Dallas to Denver bought 3days advance gave me about 3,800 points. That means it would take about 22 round trips to buy one ticket. A real example — not the flowery cheap examples you see in sw promotional material. I’m moving on to someone else now that the luv is gone.

  • JANET

    Wow! Way to totally alienate your frequent flyers. We are cancelling our SWA credit cards that we have used for years to accumulate CREDITS which were EASY to use and held VALUE for frequent flyers like us. This program is no where near as attractive to a frequent flyer as the old RR program. This was the best thing going. Now is it as crappy as all the other programs. EPIC FAIL, SOUTHWEST!

  • SWA lost my LUV

    I hate it. SWA was my number one choice b/c of the rapid rewards program, I used to fly on them for personal use at least 2-3 times a month, now i’ve gone back to AA. Terrible.

  • Kelly

    I didn’t think the new Rewards program was going to be that different when I read the marketing materials, but I was WRONG. The amount of points is takes to book a reward flight is grossy unbalanced with the amount of points you earn for the same flight. I am considering cancelling my SW Credit Card and flying USAir whenever possible. There is no advantage now to flying SW and using that credit card. I could earn more w/ Discover and use my cashback for a flight that would cost more using SW points.

  • jim bass

    I too tried to use the new point system and was astounded at how many points I needed for a flight that used to be so easy to book. It just doesn’t work. Add to that the increase in prices for flights that I have been flying for 10 yrs (more actually) and it’s time to move on. Sorry guys but looking us in the eye and lying is not going to work. See ya

  • MEG

    The new design of Southwest Airlines’ website provides little information on how the new rewards program works, booking flights with the old rewards and just trying to locate the old rewards. Purchasing a one way ticket at a prime time (6:00 am flying east) can be as high as 50,000 points or more. I mistakenly reissued 3 current rewards and Southwest refused to return the $50 on each of the rewards. We were forced to dispute the charges on the Chase credit card and the charges were finally reversed. The staff at Southwest Airlines only answer questions with a “yes” or “no” answer and do not provide any additional information. Fortunately, Chase offers other airlines programs, so we will most likely make a change.

  • R Siegel

    My girlfriend and I live on opposite coasts. We have flown SW about every 3 weeks for the past 4 years. We cannot afford the 2x business class rates (the focus of the new program), plus the loyalty program value for our 6,000 mile round trips has dropped 2-4x. I get the idea that airline profits are important, but it seems that keeping the business of high travel/lower fare travelers is apparently not particularly profitable. Also, I have rarely been on a flight where there are more than 1 – 3 people in the Business Class boarding group. So, this program does not exactly seem to be driving business travelers to SW. My girlfriend and I really relied on the Reward tickets for last minute travel (not hardly do-able with the new program) and relied on the lower fares of SW (that have increased significantly over the past 6 months) to see each other 1 – 2 times month for the past 4 years. With prices now much closer between airlines, and the new SW reward program not hardly rewarding us, we have to find a different airline. Sooo … with about 1/2 million miles of loyalty behind us, and with many truly great thanks to Southwest for the past, we are venturing on to another airline where we can at least get flight credits more closely tied to miles – i.e. loyalty. Sigh, where did the LUV go!

  • melinda

    My daughter flys every month back and forth to Florida. It seem as all our past flights have disappeared, she was one trip to a free flight at the change over, now she’s three round trips to a free flight and she’s already had two round trips to California since then. I’m so unhappy with it I regret all the time I spent enrolling my family of six and the effort I spent on keeping track of everyones credits. What a mess!

  • FAMCM

    I have had a companion pass for 18 years in a row and always fly 100+ flights a year — I am A-List Preferred and yesterday got boarding pass A40 — now if someone pays $10 for early bird, they can board before SWA’s best customers — it’s crazy! The new RR program is a joke — I live in Dallas and fly mostly within TX — now I’ll need roughly 20 round-trips per free trip instead of 8 — don’t bother calling — even on A-List Preferred I waited 20 minutes to get through — luckily living in Dallas there’s always AA — I’m done with SWA and will be Executive Platinum now — Southwest was great for so long but now is at the bottom — Herb must be so sad…..

  • theresa

    Southwest was my only choice in airlines. I am HORRIBLY disappointed in this “new” program, which essentially makes Southwest as TERRIBLE as the rest of the airlines. I used to be able to use my RR last minute and did so frequently, and as a result chose SW for EVERY FLIGHT.

    No longer. It is so very sad. They also aren’t answering their phones anymore.

    I feel like I have lost a good friend. Has anyone researched to see if they have hired a new IDIOT VP of Marketing that has implemented this “new and improved” read terrible just like all the other airlines policies….

    wow. No longer flying SW exclusively. It so really sad. Has anyone researched to see if some other startup airline focused on customer service (as I sit here waiting on a 38 minute hold time)… heard of that before their “NEW AND IMPROVED programs”…..

    I would say I would switch immediatly but all the other airlines are terrible. Is any other airline trying to be like the old Southwest ? Please advise, I would love to know.

  • Jan Smith

    I haven’t flown SWA since they changed to the points system. What I really hate is that Business Travellers can get big points when travelling on their Company’s nickel and have a bunch of points to spend on the “cheap seats.” If SWA wanted to make it fair, the Bus Points should have to be spent on Business seats. The Bus traveller is flush with points to compete for the cheap seats. Not fair SWA, not fair.

  • linza

    I am flying all Delta, getting upgraded regularly and have not taken a SW flight since the program started. I am glad they pushed me into a new airlines. They probably lost over 50 segments with me alone this year.

  • Deedy Jensen

    The biggest fans of the new SW frequent flier program are the following: United Airlines, US Air, Delta, NWA etc. After 11 years of being a devoted customer of SWA, I am switching my business to one of the above at every possible opportunity!!!! Southwest has changed something user friendly and customer pleasing into a typical airline program that alienates its customers. At least the other airlines don’t try to pretend their programs are user friendly. The SWA red tape ad is an offensive joke!!!

  • Tony

    They will bring back the old RR program after they see it had failed. They are just trying anything possible to raise $$ for the shairholder. Give it 2 years max. After being a loyal customer for 18 years, I now fly other airlines to enjoy a flight rather than sitting in the cattle cab.

  • Iris

    the new system sucks!! Period!

  • Randy Demary

    Looks like my wife and I are losers in this. We’ll be winding down our usage of SW. They are often not the most convenient airline for us anyway. Too bad. They were growing on us…

  • Pattie

    I truly miss the simplicity of the old system. Since you can’t transfer points, at least 16 was an amount easy enough to track. Now -where’s the luv? Nice airline but I’m no longer motivated to see if we can always take them. If cheaper, fine but otherwise I’ll look.

  • Dan

    I took my first Southwest flight from Austin to Lubbock in 1977. Sat in the back and it was noisy but fun.

    I have been a Rapid Rewards member since 1988 and a have been fortunate to have gotten a companion pass for the last 10 years. I came to Southwest because I was tired of not being able to use my points on American, Delta and Continental. Southwest made it easy for me to get and use the rewards system it had in place. Originally you could use a free ticket even if they had one seat left, but that changed. Then you had to trade in two rewards for an anytime reward. I guess it was just a matter of time before they changed the entire system to their favor. Unfortunately, many good and loyal customers are looking elsewhere for a better deal.

    I’m sure SW thought long and hard about how to change their rewards system and knew there was going to be some fallout from us and they probably thought they could recoup their losses by gaining new customers from other airlines. It doesn’t seem from these posts that it is working. What happened to the “Airline that Luv built”?

    What really started to change the rewards system in my opinion was the introduction of the Chase Southwest Visa program. I believe they didn’t expect to be giving out so many free tickets, companion passes and a-listers. As a result finding a seat was becoming as difficult as a “Legacy Airlines” which incidentally, Southwest is becoming.

    So, I’m not making any threats of not using Southwest again, but I have not flown on SW since they’ve made this change and don’t have any immediate plans to change that pattern.
    I’ve had some great inflight moments while flying with Southwest but it seems they no longer value me as a customer.

    I’ve done some sales in my time and one thing we always talked about was; it’s much easier to keep a good customer than it is to go out and find a new one? I wish them luck in the future trying to overcome that challenge.

  • Chris

    I have been loyal to SWA mainly because of the free flights I have been earning by pushing just about everything I buy through my SWA VISA. Now that the points take soo long to add up, I will most likely switch to another airline and see how that works. Virgin America is the obvious choice since the planes are better and the prices are comparable. RR 2.0 puts SWA on the same level as Delta without the added perks of free upgrades to First Class, which my switch away from SWA will likely jumpstart rather quick. It was fun while it lasted though.

  • Mary

    I’ve had been a fan of Southwest for many, many years. The old rewards program was a large reason why. Now I’m searching for a different credit card since Southwest in no longer worth having.

  • George

    Southwest just jumped the shark. Now, they’re just another airline among a crowded field of rip-offs and scam artists. I dropped the credit card and instead of checking Southwest’s schedule first, I’ll throw them in with the rest.

  • Mike

    Stop whining!! Southwest has a track record of staying ahead of the competition by creating value for its customers while still making a profit for its shareholders. This move is what appears to be a compromise that threads that business needle.

    What bothers most of these customers is that they can no longer game the system at Southwest’s expense.

    I can speak first hand how good it has been for our family to fly Southwest. I am retired and my spouse is still working. She travels a lot between San Diego and Sacramento (short haul air travel). We have been able to cobble together a combination of transferable points from Choices Hotels and use of Rapid Rewards credit cards to get a companion pass each of the last five years. This enables me to accompany my spouse, share some of the burden of driving, etc. at the cost of the TSA fee.

    We have been able to use the free flights to visit our daughter on the east coast. We have been able to game the system by flying at company expense the short haul and flying coast to coast for free. Now we will have to pay more in line with what it costs Southwest to sell us a seat. We are losers but not enough to negate the remaining advantages.

    Bottom line, Southwest has a track record for delivering value vis-a-vis the competition. This is just an on-going tweaking of the system to make it more economically rational.

    If the whiners can do better they should take their business elsewhere. Unless they have not done their homework properly, I don’t think Southwest is going to lose any sleep from a long-term business perspective. People will either see that they did it right and stay with or return to Southwest or Southwest will go the way of NetFlix if they have blown it. I’ll put my money on Southwest but only time will tell.

  • Dave jensen

    I’ve been a Southwest “Fanatic” for many, many years. My family talks up Southwest wherever we go. I’m a Companion Pass holder, and I used to have lots of faith in Rapid Rewards. I am now so ticked off at them that, yes, I will find another airline to fly on EVERY one of my usual routes. I am sick and tired of companies giving it to the consumer, and that’s exactly what SWA is doing here. This complicated program replacing a beautiful, simple system? And they had the NERVE to tell us it was a “better” program coming down the pike! They’ve lost our family’s business, that’s for sure. And I’m already working away on my co-workers who fly out of Phoenix to get them to realize that other airlines have better rewards now.

  • Kelly

    As a 25-year frequent flyer on Southwest, I’m worried about the continuing changes away from what made Southwest different from other carriers. True open seating has gone to a multiple-tier system based on $$$. Rapid Rewards is morphing into a FF program much like the big airlines. I’m OK with these changes, and I understand the value. What worries me is what other changes are in the works…change penalties (Air Tran still charges $75 for ANY change…not matter when), bag fees, etc.

    My favorite thing about Southwest is that they don’t impose change fees. In my opinion, those fees are intended to take advantage of someone whose plans have changed. I FULLY understand that a customer should pay the best fare available at the time of change…that’s fair. But to simply tag a customer $75 to change a flight time, when the original fare is still available, is punitive in my opinion, especially if the customer makes the change online.

    Southwest…please don’t take this feature away from your customers. I see the evolution of benefits, and I hope this isn’t a target of change. My job requires flexibility, as my customers often reschedule…usually with plenty of lead time. Please keep the current policy in place, where if I change a flight, I can still get the best available fare, and not get punished for needing to alter my schedule.

    No bag fees and no change penalties. That’s what sets Southwest apart. I hope those two policies remain untouchable.

  • Bob

    I am a previous rapid rewards customer and a current one…no more! Southwest Airlines screwed me out the mileage on my account and then when I called customer service to complain and try to get some action, I could not extend the reward. I really fail to see why this happens. Their rewards expire, they renew (for one year) and of course this is something that they actually CHARGE you for! Then, when you cannot travel, you cannot renew, they screw you out of the mileage. I cant say that I have that problem with any other rewards program. They suck! The airline sucks! And I will not be back for ANY reason with them!

  • Bob

    By the way, Kelly is absolutely right in her analysis of the NEW rapid rewards program. It sucks! Ditch that southwest card and go to another airline. That’s what I did!

  • Rhonda

    Southwest has really made a huge mistake they are loosing customers by the day and will figure that out eventually… Bad changes they always say why change something that works!!! It
    will show in there bottom line eventually…

  • Gene Azzam

    I was ripped off by SW. I have been a rapid reward user since 2002. Yesterday I went to check on my point status and all my points were missing. All that was there were 2,382 points from a Jan 2012 round trip, Baltimore MD to Detroit MI. And guess what it was all my fault. Even if I had proof of a few flights they can do nothing to bring them back.
    They say it was my job to do their book keeping of my points. I short double check regularly to keep them honest. Southwest in my option are flat out dishonest.

  • Tim

    Just was able to book my first rewards flight. Never had been able to do that before. Love the new program – basically 10% back on every dollar spent (all wanna get away fares). Plus I can convert Marriott points to Southwest – Luv it! Couldn’t be simpler – great job SWA!

  • SWA_Last_Straw

    Well well. I quit flying southwest as I had previously qualified for 3 flights and somehow all of my points were gone? Yes that’s right! 24 segments. I was a frequent flyer from NC to FL. Also you should know that I tried to use the points several times with 30 days advanced notice, and EACH TIME was refused and ended up paying for companion travel. Maybe I’m confused but it’s not while sitting on a SW flight.

  • Lisa

    I love southwest and the new reward system. I have already recieved three free one way flights since March based on points. I was able to book a trip to LA for me and my husband and I only had to pay for one ticket. Its great. Before I had to wait until I had flown 8 round trip flights before getting a free ticket. This new system is great if you purchase one way tickets like I do.

  • alicat2441

    Well I was willing to give the new Southwest RR a shot, but not any longer. Comparison: flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles-Wanna Get Away-will net you 430-480 points when paying. To get the same flight using points it is 4,000+. So I will get 860 points for a round trip or use 8000+ points for a round trip. A round trip to New York will wipe out my account. So no this was not a good switch for me. Where before I was getting a free roundtrip ticket 1x/year now I will be lucky to get one every 2-3 years. Sorry, but I refuse to pay $400 for a roundtrip ticket to Los Angeles to get more points. As soon as my points are used up I will be cancelling my RR account and credit card and sticking with United/Continental at least they are international and I can go to Hawaii. The new RR program would make sense if SW had as many destinations as the other airlines, but news flash they don’t. So, why would they change the RR program to the way the old airlines programs are?

  • http://pregnancypillowreviews.org/ Tanya

    I cant say that I have that problem with any other rewards program. They suck! The airline sucks! And I will not be back for any reason with them!
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