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Everything You Wanted to Know About Southwest's Revamped Rapid Rewards Program

How the program now works, from Southwest's new Rapid Rewards website
How the program now works, from Southwest's new Rapid Rewards website

Southwest officials hopped on conference calls with aviation-biz writers yesterday to lay out the details of its long-in-the-works Rapid Rewards do-over, which Ryan Green, the Love Field-based carrier's Senior Director of Customer Loyalty and Partnerships, calls "the single biggest new product launch in our Company's history" over on the SWA blog. FlyerTalk, the frequent-flier forum, was among those listening in on the phone call, and late last night posted this lengthy summary of the overhaul of the program, which is now based on how much you spend on a ticket rather than how often you fly.

As in: The more you pay for a ticket, the more points you get -- with a bonus given to those who pay full fare. Writes Green, "The new program is designed to give you, our Customers, more control and flexibility over how and when you earn and redeem your points. When you buy certain fare products, you earn more points." There are myriad other benefits involved in the new program -- from no blackout dates to the fact the points are now redeemable for international flights. And there are further details buried beneath the headline involving so-called A-Listers, who will receive 25 percent earning bonuses on flights.

Throughout the wee small hours of this morning, the FlyerTalk forum's been filling up with Q's and A's for those who depend upon Rapid Rewards -- the revamp of which, says CEO Gary Kelly, is intended to pick up "several hundred million" dollars previously left on the table. There are now several pages' worth of discussion, including some pop-ins from SWA execs, with most frequent fliers in favor of the change: As one FlyerTalk-er writes, "I'm thinking that at first glance I'm okay with this. It was nice to get an easy point on HOU-AUS on a $39 WGA [Wanna Get Away] but on the other end it irked me to only get one point on more expensive fares." The new program goes into effect March 1.


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