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All-New Rapid Rewards Update

Employee
Employee

I wanted to provide you all with an update on how things are going since we launched the All-New Rapid Rewards program last week.  To say it’s been a crazy past week and a half is an understatement, and I know you all have experienced and expressed your frustrations with the launch of the new program and the challenges we have faced with the rollout. 

 

If we were a sports team, you could say that we’ve been in a slump the last week and a half.  It happens to even the best teams, and when it comes to Customer Service and meeting and exceeding our Customers’ expectations, I feel that Southwest is the best in the game.  Like a slumping sports team, we have heard all about it from our fans, which is to be expected and certainly fair.  The truth is we haven’t lived up to our standards or expectations for delivering Customer Service this past week and a half.  For that, we sincerely apologize.  I can tell you that we have been working around the clock to recover and get back to our winning ways.  We are seeing improvements, and each day is better than the one before.   

 

One of the biggest challenges we have experienced, that we know has a bigger impact on you, is our higher than normal call volumes, as well as unusually high e-mail inquiries.  Unfortunately, that has meant that your wait time to speak to someone has been longer than normal, and at times, you have been unable to get through.  Likewise, it has taken us longer to respond to your e-mails.  Fortunately, we have seen steady improvements since the launch, and we are hoping to be back to the level of Customer Service you expect from us soon.  Please trust me when I tell you that we do have all hands on deck working around the clock to answer your calls and e-mails.  Combined, our Customer Service Representatives have worked thousands of hours of overtime, and we have brought in temporary Employees to help. 

 

Additionally, as with anything new, there is a learning curve to becoming familiar with the changes on the web site, so our Members naturally have questions about where to find certain features and how to navigate the site, which can be frustrating.  We know there is opportunity for making the new account screens more intuitive so you can more easily find your information.  A few of these have already been implemented, and we continue to work on further enhancements.  Last week, we posted a blog and video with answers to some frequently asked questions about how to navigate the web site, so I encourage you to check that out if you haven’t already.

 

With regard to functionality on southwest.com, most all functionality is working as designed.  Yes, we are still experiencing a few bugs here and there, and we have only one main outstanding issue we are working diligently to address.  Members who are using Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) are unable to login to their account.  We are aware of this issue and are working to fix it as soon as we possibly can.  I’m including a link to upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 if you are interested in upgrading:  http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/worldwide-sites.aspx, and again, we are working to fix this on our end as quickly as we can so that those with IE6 can login to their accounts. 

 

            Again, we are seeing improvements across all fronts, and we are working as hard and fast as we can to get back on track.  We know you expect a lot from Southwest Airlines, and we’re sorry we haven’t been able to live up to your (or our) expectations.        

125 Comments
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I have been a loyal & frequent Southwest Customer since 1993, when you came to Baltimore. The new web page is difficult to navigate, I believe I have been cheated out of credits from prior trips. The new Point Requirements has increased the travel requirements necessary to earn a reward to where it is not worth it. You are going to lose my business.
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I can forgive all and live with the changes but please give me my A status that I was only 3 flights away from. I have flown now 4 times since and this morning boarding my flight from Phoenix to Onatario I am stuck with a B40 pass. I'll be sitting in the middle for sure.
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I like the old system better the new system is better for the business traveler that travels a lot but, for a family that only travel maybe once or twice a year it does not work to well.
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I know you've heard this before - but my corporate computer is locked-down, and the only browser option is IE6. Its horrible, but true. Due to this problem many of us (and my employer alone has over 300k employees) - will not be able to book online travel with Southwest. Is there any consideration to have a reduced functionality (i.e. like the mobile site) website that works with IE6? - Bg.
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Thanks for the update, it is appreciated!! One note about IE6 compatibility from a web developer -- I wouldn't put too much effort into it, if I were you. Even Microsoft wants people to get rid of IE6, as it doesn't meet many of the standards for modern websites. They even have a website counting down the percentage of IE6 use!! http://www.ie6countdown.com/
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I tried to buy tickets for myself and my husband. I'm 69, he's 64--so he's an "adult" by your reckoning. And I'm a "senior." But your site fills in the name of the person who logged in as the First Passenger automatically. In little tiny letters under First Passenger, it says (adult). I practically had to cancel my ticket and rebook, but the single person who answered the phone after half an hour was able (after I complained a lot) to do something called a "ticket exchange," and he said that would do it and we wouldn't get in trouble with the TSA. I actually kind of doubt it, but I don't want to rebook as prices are going up hourly. Please get your web site fixed so that it either (1) YELLS ADULT where it autofills the name of the person who logged in or (2) doesn't autofill or (3), best of all, figures out who is the adult and who is the senior and autofills the answers correctly. It should be able to do (3), since the "who is flying? TSA wants to know" questions have already been answered.
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I think the program is great...too bad you pulled all the 99 dollar fares to tampa from chicago. I was ready to buy tickets and 24 hours later the cost goes up 76 dollars.
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Will there be any Credits --> Points conversion available? Also, it's been nearly a week since my last round trip and I still don't have any points showing on my account.
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I am not a big fan of the new RR system. Now I have to either buy the more expensive tickets (what's the point) or fly more just the earn the same rewards I would have gotten before the change. I don't think this is worth it at all. Give me back the credits!!!
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I am a business traveler out of Dallas. I think this new reward and slight increase in price is a step backwards for someone like me. DFW is down the street (O'Hare, JFK, IAH, and MIA customers might agree) and honestly I am looking at legacy airlines now because it is now shades of grey between your rewards program. It may take me a little longer gain a free flight with AA or Delta but I can choose my seat, fly 1st class and check my bag for free if I take my business there and join their program. I feel like you moved in a direction that didn't strengthen my relationship but made me realize you are not the only airline out there. In good faith I'm giving WN a month or two but if I feel I'm getting the short end of the stick, I will be free to move around the country in a newer plane than a -300
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I agree with Alex and Carolyn. THis new system was not implemented to benefit me as a regular traveler. It was done for the benefit of SWA! Perhaps the old system allowed regular travelers quicker acces to travel. SWA has promoted this myth that their fares are cheaper. THis is not true. Forget the baggage deal. The fares are higher, the boarding conditions resemble cattle going to slaughter, and now you have even taken away the chance to earn Rapid Rewards. SHAME. This is a scam!!
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So basically before i would get 2 flight credits for a $200 round trip whereas now i only get 1200 points which is equivolent to a 1 way flight on the old system. Not liking the new system much at all.
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I was one flight away from a free one and under the new system I wont be flying anywhere free for a while. I will go from being a Southwest only guy to a whoever has the best price guy. Unfortunately for you, that is rarely Southwest. -Tyler
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Now that Southwest carries more passengers than anyone else, the airline that has democratized travel now comes up with a rewards program that favors the big spenders and the fat cats. I am not amused, and neither is my (relatively svelte) cat. Everything on Southwest made travel simple, and now it's getting complex. I feel baited and switched. I still like Southwest's no bag fee policy and the fact that they fly out of Humphrey terminal thus avoiding the harassment and hassle at MSP main terminal, but since I am a retiree whose time is worth zero, I am considering going back to the buses.
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As a very frequent traveler with Southwest for the past 6 years, I am amazed at just how bad this has gone. Definitely not the Southwest I'm used to. I have emailed, called and talked to people at the gates but still no answers. The customer service line is always busy, emails have not been returned in over a week and the level of frustration is mounting. Basically it seems like Southwest is now going to detemine loyalty on level of spend as opposed to frequency of use. Having been A16-20 for the past 2 years, imagine the shock as I now board in the 30's to 50's. I will be patient for only so long and wonder why my loyalty is no longer recognized or appreciated.
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The new Southwest system is a joke. To say that it is improvement is deceitful. Under the new system, I will have to purchase 10 round trip tickets between Kansas City and Austin at $500 a piece to earn the points for 1 free trip from Kansas City to Austin. That adds up to 2 more round trip flights than I would have had to purchase in the past, a total of $1000. I find it insulting that Southwest would consider me so unintelligent as to believe that a system that requires me to spend $1000 more to earn a free flight is an improvement. My business will be going to the airlines whose flights are cheaper (even with their bag fees).
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Chris, Southwest has created their own customer service crisis with this awful new rewards program. Don't worry - your customers are leaving, and soon their customer service issues will be leaving with them,
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i think you should switch all past credits over to points. we have all been loyal customers and deserve the credits we earned. im hearing that you changed around the seating policy too.i really hope thats not true.we are planning a huge trip to florida and i would really like to sit with my whole family.i like the old system..whoever checked in first..gets on first. to say your customer service has been failing is an understatement. the people i did get on the phone after an hour on hold.were condescending, rude, just reading verbatim from a piece of paper. they didnt care. they just wanted to get off the phone. in fact 2 of them said i cant help you...and just hung up on us. awesome service!! ive always used southwest. we have a southwest card. im seriously thinking of switching to team jet blue. fix your issues....and start caring about your customers!!! just a sorry aint gonna cut it!
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After being a faithful Southwest customer for many years and being responsible for switching many friends and relatives over to Southwest I reqret to say I will be returning to American Airlines. At least I know with American my round trip domestic ticket will be 25,000 miles. I was going to book a couple of SW flights the other day and couldn't believe how many points they were going to cost. I still have credits but when they are gone so am I. Why SW, did you ruin a good thing? I know you think this is going to pick up more Business travelers but I think you are wrong. For one thing must Business travelers I know use their miles for First Class upgrades. You don't offer this. You don't offer nice clubs for them to spend their layover time. The unassigned seating will not work for them. They do not want to possible be stuck into a middle seat trying to work on spread sheets and computers. Your old faithfuls may only take a few flights a year but when you dd them up their loss will far exceed the gain you receive from your new customers. Can't you see by the letters you are getting the mistake you are making? We all want our old SW back with our simple point system and ability to fly whenever we want without having to use the amount of points it would cost on another airline for an International flight. Sorry, but my guess is you won't be number one for long.
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So Mr. Mainz, The questions everyone wants to know: when is the program going to be changed back to the way it was before? Remeber the "new coke"? Let's follow their example and GET RID OF IT!
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I think your new web site sucks. I use 100's of web site on a monthly bases and yours is diffenently NOT user friendly. We have Southwest Visa cards and fly Southwest quite often. I feel as though we are going to have to look for another avenue for our travel. I can't and will not spend an hour trying to figure out your site and I will NOT wait on the phone for over an hour to get an answer. Respectfully and very Disappointed, Paula Hedden & Benny Clark Homes by Benny Clark, Inc.
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I am computer savvy and never had problems with your website until now. The last two trips our family booked needed telephone intervention and a very long wait (30 minutes) in order to speak to the SW representative. I liked the function of the old site better.
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For all you naysayers out there...hi, have you flown with another airline recently? Have you tried to accumulate any sort of useable free ticket with leisure travel on other airlines? You might want to think twice about "taking your business elsewhere." Do you even realize the NON flexibility of most other airlines? Change fees, delays, terrible turnaround times, bag fees, no overhead space, canceled flights, etc., are all pretty common. Not on southwest! I am amazed at the ignorance in these comments. I luv you sw! Thanks for extending my companion pass and hubby's alist another 3 months! Thanks for your awesome customer service! Thanks for drink tickets and free snacks! I'm still a very loyal fan!
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Very disappointed. I'll be using my Virgin America Credit Card, and flying their luxury planes now that they are in Chicago. Thanks for all the good times SWA, but the same deals can be had with an assigned seat and mood lightning. No more finding my place in line. I'm spreading the word to family, friends, and business associates.
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There is no way I'm paying 3xs more to be on the same flight and in the same row with kids playing their ipods. I would go out of my way to fly SWA but this new system makes SWA just like any other airline so now the true criteria for me is price and convenience. Boo to whomever lost sight of the beauty in simplicity and respecting all customers not just those who spend alot. Also, I sent SWA an email complaining about the program and it took a week to get a reply so yes Chris, the customer service is falling short.
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Prior to the conversion to the points system, I had 5 expired one way awards that I was planning to have reissued as they approached their individual deadlines for reissue in April, June and December of 2011. They do not appear in my Awards or in Reissue Awards. Where do I find these online or has SW reneged and taken away something else I earned?
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I use Southwest twice a week for approximately 45 weeks out of the year. I have been without access to my account since the changeover. I'mnot convinced the issue is just with IE6, as I have tried multiple browsers. My issue is I no longer feel like a valued customer. Although everyone is very nice on the phone, I have yet to be helped getting into my account. What is funny, or not, is Southwest "cannot" have someone call me back to resolve this issue. I would like to think that I use Southwest more then the average traveller, spending literally thousands a year for the past 5years, but I guess that doesn't matter. I'm very disappointed how this has played out, but I can tell you from experience that I would be treated with more respect from the other airlines if I flew this much with them. I love Southwest's system, but am going to have to deal with the broken down system of the other airlines and work my way back up the status ladder. Disappointed customer
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I earned 16 credits prior to the roll-out of the new Rapid Rewards program, which would have qualified me for a round-trip flight (not ONE flight). I am still missing 1/2 credit and when I do finally earn it, my reward will be worth HALF of the amount of the reward I should have qualified for. I am disappointed in the new Rapid Rewards program, to say the least. When you fly out of Dallas, many of the flights are not direct flights and I have to commit to flying longer than I would on another airline. The old Rapid Rewards program was beneficial to me but, the new one is lackluster. Additionally, are flights with the old rewards even available? I have tired to book an award flight and there is NO availiability.
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Good luck Southwest, you will need it.. Many, if not most, of your loyal customers are leaving. I know I am.
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I am one of your biggest fans ever! Texas is home so I have been bragging about you to everyone on the East Coast and now you are finally coming to Charleston! I literally could not be more excited and will be on the inaugural Houston flight. I know the new RR will make sense, but right now we are disappointed and confused. We have received a different answer from everyone we've talked to about what will happen to our credits. Our main focus is earning the companion pass. The first person told us if we earned our 100 credits by May 27 we would have it until Dec 2012. The last person told us our 70 something credits have been converted and we are back to 36,000 towards the 110,000 needed for the companion pass. We have been consciously putting everything on the credit card and renting from your partners, etc. to try to get this pass. We feel like we were so close to earning that pass and now it might not be possible. We're just looking for a straight answer from one person. Thanks so much!!!
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I fly Southwest at least 45 weeks out of the year (90) segments, and am sorely disappointed how the changeover has played out. I would have an idea if the new website was better, if I could only log on. I've used different browsers to try to connect, but none work. I've called numerous times and am told the same thing, but no solution. Is the IT department still employed? I would be looking for another job. Unless of course no one cares about keeping extensive travelers. I spend too much money with Southwest to be kept in the dark for as long as I have. Although I hate to change airlines, I will have to. I will be loyal to whichever company treats me as such. Such is life! It was a good ride, but time to go.
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My #1 gripe is that you guys can't seem to integrate your phone bookings with your online bookings. I booked online, rebooked by phone, and res disappeared from my account. It's really not that hard to link them together, I guarantee you 🙂 Expose a "find by rewards number" feature in your legacy system and link em up, please! Overall though I'm glad you're taking steps to improve the site. There are some things that make no sense - for example when you "log in" on the homepage nothing changes, it just logs you in, but what is the #1 action people do after logging in? Going to their account page to see their flights and etc (I am guessing, but you have web analytics to figure this out of course). So take us there when we log in, please! Every other website out there takes you to your account page when you log in, so why violate this behavior? I could be wrong of course 🙂
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I hope you read these comments and those at your Facebook page and take them seriously. I believe you are going to lose thousands of once-loyal customers. I'm one of them. Pre-RR 2.0 if Southwest flew to my destination I booked with Southwest. Period. End of story. Post-RR 2.0 I will shop around for the best price. Bags fly free makes no difference to me - I always carry-on because baggage claim at MDW is slower than molasses.
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I love SWAirlines, I"ve been a customer in all ways LOVED Herb, etc. However I am flying this weekend the 19th to SF and could not get my RR accepted, nor one year ago. Each time I book am told no such person. Thus I am loosing my RR mileage. I called but was on hold over 20 min. and the email response was well we're experiencing issues. I sure want to acquire my rewards as I am flying to STL in June. LOVE SW still a lyfe long customer!
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its one thing to be sold a piece of garbage, however, it's a slap in the face when SWA market's this piece of garbage (New RR Program) as some great new concept with pictures of people jumping in the air with excitement.it hurts almost everyone. insulting. its sad to say a a long time loyal customer but bye bye SWA
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i love SWA
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Fix the rolling 12-mo Companion Pass on the website so I know how close I am. Thanks! All-in-all the new program is great for frequent business travelers; love it!
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Why does the system say every comment I try to submit is spam?
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Southwest - your new RR system has really screwed up a good thing you had going for many years. Like many bloggers here, I never checked other airlines for fares when buying tickets before now. I think your greed will be catch up with you. We are free to travel with anyone that has the best deal. Good Luck!
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Dear President Gary Kelly, You’re new RR program sucks. No matter how you present the new RR program to “us” the customers…it’s a scam to make more money and screw over loyal customers. Its very obvious that your money making scheme has only pissed off us customers. LISTEN to the people that made Southwest what it is today…..CHANGE the program back!!!!!!!!!!! Sincerely yours, Very dissatisfied Southwest flyer.
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Here's a better sports analogy for the situation. You had a consistently winning team with a loyal fan base. One day, in the middle of the season, you announced: 1) We're trading all of your favorite players for a group of free agents; 2) Season ticket holders are welcome to keep attending games, but it will cost you significantly more for each game; 3) Season ticket holders will also be moved to the upper deck to accomodate our corporate sponsors. Please refer your questions and concerns to the intern in group sales.
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I do hope people who matter at Southwest are reading these comments to see that we understand technical glitches when a major system "upgrade" takes place. What we don't understand--or appreciate--is having earned rewards grossly devalued to the point it feels they've been taken from us. Before the new system, I was 60% of the way to a free flight and well on track to earn it this year, now I'm less than 10% there and will definitely not get it. To a small business owner who doesn't have a large company paying for my travel, this is a significant loss. Since I am based in Chicago, I will be taking my business back to United.
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I still feel that Southwest has taken what was the easiest, most straight-forward airline website and made it difficult to navigate just like all the other airlines that I hate. Every change that is made at Southwest takes it further from the user friendly, customer appreciating airline that made it everyone's favorite. The old saying is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"!
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A slump? How about you traded all of your best players, and then kicked all of the season ticket holders to the upper deck so that corporate accounts could be nearer to the action? All calls about the matter, by the way, have been referred to the intern in group sales. This morning it took me five minutes to find a better flight for half the cost, and I booked it without hesitation. Two weeks ago I would not have even looked.
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As a loyal - and previously supportive - SWA frequent flyer,I am very disappointed with the changes that have been made in the RR program. For those of us who plan ahead for our business and pleasure trips, we get screwed with the lowest multiplier that results in less than 1200 points for a roundtrip - when we used to get 2 credits ( the equivalent of 2400 points) for a roundtrip. On the flipside, the points required to redeem points for a free flight has increased significantly. If your Wanna get Away roundtrip airfare is more than $320 for your planned reward travel - u will b using more points in the new program vs. the old program's 16 credit requirement. I'm not buying into SWA's marketing spin that these changes are improvements. When people realize what SWA has done to their customers - many will spend their $$ where they get value - and customer focus!
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Southwest, I'll be honest I used to fly you a lot more then I do now, I'm a platinum on delta and the perks include an upgrade to first around 80% of the time, priority bags, express medallion check in, and special lines to get me through security quicker. If I need to change a flight I can do it 3 hours before at no cost on any fare class I purchase. Why would I fly you? You need to provide me with some incentive to earn my business. Oh and my bags always fly free on delta.
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I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with most of the comments here. From missing credits from previous flights to A-list credits, etc. There's a reason that things are referred to as "OLD adages", and it's because they are truisms. Do not fix what is not broken comes to mind. If this was an attempt to merge the Southwest and AirTran systems, then to my mind it has failed miserably. My question would be why not just convert the AirTran members. Personally, the OLD system worked best...KISS. Please don't forget what made all of us want to fly Southwest (and made many of us loyal customers) in the first place. Remember, I/We do have a choice in airlines, and your price is not always the best anymore.
New Arrival
Thanks for the apology...yes, all teams slump, including Team Kelly. Why not offer some form of compensation to your loyal passengers? Perhaps, a boat load of points, a companion ticket, or an off-peak free ticket. Words are nice to fix the damage to the brand, but tangible compensation would speed the healing process.
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Chris: Much thanks for the apology. All teams slump, including the best airline in the United States. However, the amount of damage to the brand is significant. Words aren't enough to significantly lessen the anger of your very loyal fan base. How about real compensation such as a boatload of points, a companion ticket, or even an off-peak free ticket? That has always been Herb's philosophy. I'm certain Gary wants to put this botched rollout behind him. Much thanks for considering the proposal...
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The 3 members of my family don't qualify as frequent fliers, but between us we fly approximately 8-10 round trips a year, and also have 2 SW credit cards. When it came time to book a flight, the SW site was where I went. The former Rapid Rewards Program helped us enjoy some trips that we wouldn't have otherwise made, so SW won my loyalty, plus I encouraged many other people to give you a try. For the last 4 yrs., my husband and I have flown to Tampa from Louisville sometime in the first 3 months of the year, and have taken 5 people with us in the last 2 yrs. that wouldn't have otherwise gone. Because of the great round trip pricing that we got (never over $200), it was easy to convince them to go with us and give SW a first-time try. We will be going again, this time in April, and the round trip price(Wanna Get Away) is currently $406.80, and that's one month advance! We are going to fly SW this time, but only because 2 of our party have free RR round trips for signing up for the credit card, however, in any future trips, I will now be forced to check other carriers for price comparison as the current SW Reward Point System is not going to give enough benefit to allow them to be the only game in town. I join all the others who are not happy with this change, and kindly ask you to change it back. "If it ain't broke..don't fix it!"