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A one-way flight that earns 800 USD worth of points

My fellow business travelers often question my choice of Southwest, a discount carrier, for my business travel when I could just as easily choose “full service” carriers like American or United out of the Chicago market.  The month of February is a great example of the massive earning potential for business travelers who choose Southwest.

Southwest has two stackable promotions currently in play through the end of  February that make flying Southwest ridiculously awesome this month.

Let’s start stacking

The first of the stack is a double points promotion for corporate travelers booking through SWABIZ described here.  On a Business Select ticket, double the base points.

The second of the stack is the newly released double points on all bookings through May promotion.  On a Business Select ticket, double the base points.

As a business traveler who selects Southwest as their primary carrier, an A-List Preferred membership is more attainable than other top tier elite statuses from the legacy carriers.  A-List Preferred members earn double the base points on Business Select Tickets.

Take advantage of one of the very best tricks in the game and you will find yourself with a companion pass that doubles the value of your points since your companion flies free with you on reservations booked with points.  In my case, I travel with my companion 99.9% of award redemptions so this is an effective doubling of all points earned.

The math

I had a business need to fly from Denver to the East Coast on one day notice so I booked a 500 USD Business Select ticket.  Here is the math.

  1. A Business Select ticket earns 12 points per dollar.
  2. Double the base points for Promo #1 to get to 24 points per dollar
  3. Double the base points for Promo #2 to get to 36 points per dollar
  4. Double the base for being an A-List Preferred member to get to 48 points per dollar
  5. Double the entire points earned for the effective total due to all redemptions being combined with the Companion Pass and arrive at 96 points per dollar
  6. Divide total points by 60 because Southwest uses fixed redemption rates to determine the value of points earned in ‘Wanna Get Away’ fares

500*((12+12+12+12)*2)/60=800 USD

The bottom line

I love Southwest.  This one way flight I booked  earns a whopping 800 USD in points!  Solo traveler?  You are still earning 400 USD in value for a 500 USD ticket.  High frequency travelers should compare their earning rates on legacy carriers.   How often do you earn 16000 United or American miles on a 500 USD one way flight?

About the Author

About the author: Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Al February 8, 2013, 6:59 am

    Actually I took a trip on UAL from JFK to HNL last month. The round trip ticket was $428. Base mileage was 11000 miles. As a 1K, I earned 22000 miles.

  • Jeff Jones February 8, 2013, 7:36 am

    Sorry Southwest is becoming more mainstream to where as a business traveler its faults (no first, no international, no alliance) far outweigh its plusses (flexible ticketing, no regional jets and superior service). The latest charge of $40 to jump to business first at the gate was the final nail in the coffin.

  • UnitedEF February 8, 2013, 8:01 am

    Sorry even AA has a better TPAC network than WN. 48k points will cash in about $137 worth of airfare for a C ticket to Asia ;-)

  • Hellohello1226 February 8, 2013, 9:05 am

    i have a Aa ticket
    3/10 lax/ord/pek
    3/26 pvg/ord/dfw/lax
    915usd , I earn 17500miles Aa exp get 35000miles
    Usd 2VIP voucher upgrade to business for free, Aa exp get 8vip voucher every year.

    This two month I have 3round trip like that, plus free upgrade to first class all flight in states.

    But I still keep ua 1k, delta platinum( last year was diamond. I had 300flights last year, none of them is southwest.

  • Robert February 8, 2013, 9:13 am

    With all the points…it’s still SW…

  • Peterson February 8, 2013, 9:17 am

    I second JeffJones’ opinion : for me, airline loyalty points has its best use in international premium awards. WN is great for those who nearly never travel internationally.

    Also, they’re no longer a LFC they once claim to be. Out of NYC, I routinely see DL beat them on pricing.

  • matt February 8, 2013, 9:32 am

    There is of course the question of how often you buy walk-up fares, of course. Also, it’s unrealistic to compare A-list to top-tier statuses. The benefits match up more with low-tier elite levels or even credit card holders on many cases.

    Your earning example speaks for itself as a nice value for a particular segment of customer. No need to throw in misleading comparisons on top of it.

  • Scottrick February 8, 2013, 9:44 am

    On United, I effectively get my money back (so just $500 for $500 spend, not $800 for $500) but I don’t have to travel with a companion and my awards are eligible for a first class upgrade. Pretty good IMO.

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