Southwest offers what might be the most hassle-free loyalty program in the entire world, Rapid Rewards. It’s so reliable, that we’re deviating from our standard 25% reduction factor, and only using 10%. Rapid Rewards are that easy to use. There are very few companies left in the world that don’t play games and hide behind fine print. Thankfully, along with Costco, Southwest Airlines is one of those. Although RR’s are extremely dependable, they’re not without drawbacks. Namely high-value award opportunities. Southwest operates a domestic-only network, and only flies very limited international routes. As a result, the >$0.05/mile valuations sometimes seen on other carriers do not exist. After the dust settled, we assigned an ACRV of $0.0075 per Southwest Rapid Reward point.
|US Domestic Value||$0.0098|
|US Domestic Non-zero Average||0.0109|
|International Non-zero Average||0.0104|
|Overall Non-zero Average||$0.0106|
Subjectively, we would value Southwest Rapid Rewards more than our formula suggests they’re worth. Extras like free baggage and itinerary changes are worth something, but at this time not factored into our model. Maybe some day.
Sadly, this month we saw something that we’ve never seen on Southwest before: lack of award availability. As shown below, our hypothetical Seattle to San Juan flight was not bookable with points. This is likely because Southwest had no seats(paid or otherwise). This does highlight one glaring problem a Southwest traveler faces, no codeshare fallback. So while another airline might not have availability on their own metal, it’s likely they’d be able to book one on a partner.
Obviously, Southwest is an outlier in the US Domestic carrier space. Solid reliability vs. award potential, no baggage fees vs no premium cabin possibilites. For those looking for a hassle-free award booking experience, look no further. For those looking to maximize the value of their Chase Ultimate Rewards, United is the better option.