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New Rapid Rewards—I Get The Point(s)

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[asset|aid=240|format=image|formatter=asset|title=RBRiPodLogoSmall.gif|width=180|height=179|resizable=true|align=right]As a Southwest Employee, I find myself talking about this company at a lot of occasions from parties to soccer games. I’m sure my Coworkers have similar experiences when a new acquaintance learns where we work, they inevitably want to know how much it costs to go to Vegas, or (in my case) if I’m a pilot. (Yes, gender stereotypes run deep.)

So when I heard we were changing our Rapid Rewards program, I could just picture myself having to learn all about some complex system so that I could answer questions intelligently, or simply stop going to parties—not an option!

But wait! This new system is great and our web site makes it easy! It’s not based on miles or credits, but points. This episode of Red Belly Radio is about the new Rapid Rewards program and my guest is Ryan Green from Marketing. No one knows more about this new program than Ryan. Give it a listen and you can talk to acquaintances and sound like an expert, too.
17 Comments
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No, I don't think you get the POINT. This is NOT a good thing for the vast majority of your customers, including some of us who do ridiculous things with our schedules or travel plans just to fly Southwest. It's not the complexity of the system that's the problem. It's the fact that it flies (no pun intended) in the face of what you've built your brand identity around since what? - 1971? Seems you're missing the point entirely - how and why Southwest became a market leader, why you've been profitable during the worst industry recession in history, and why your customers are so wildly passionate about your product. Or maybe you just don't care about any of that. Thinking it's a good time to get out of your stock, though. This won't end well - unless it ends, and rapidly. (No pun intended there, either - especially since "rapid rewards" is a thing of the past. Nothing funny at all.)
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Agree with anon. This change is one of the worst things Southwest could have done. You took the award winning program that helped build your brand loyalty and you destroyed it in an afternoon. SWA obviously did no market research and did not consider their core frequent fliers and indeed fans who tend to be short to medium range fliers. You've added between 50% and 100% to the amount of flights these fliers will need to earn rewards and in so doing so have diminished your rapid rewards program and indeed your usefulness as an airline. Not to mention you've angered a large portion of your previously loyal clientel, the kind of loyal clientel that has kept your airline so profitable the last 10 years while everyone else has foundered. Why on Earth did you try to fix something that wasn't broken and no one apparently had a problem with? My only conclusion must be that you figured you could make more money this way and in the process you've become nothing but a legacy airline where a second bag most fliers don't need flies free... After a lifetime of loyalty I and many others now have no reason to consider SWA first when we fly.
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I agree with the previous writer. This is a huge mistake for Southwest. You continue to shed all of the unique characteristics that made your customers fiercely loyal in your quest to make more money. That's the difference between Gary and Herb. The latter was all about the LUV, and the dough rolled in; the former is just all about the dough--no fun intended.
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As customers, if would read all the info, check out the newrapidrewards.com website and become informed on all aspects of the program (not to mention all the perks that will come with the new` Chase visa card), you would understand how great this new program will be. As with all changes, you have to give it a chance and become familiar with it. I personally love it. I will earn my free trips just with my SWA chase visa card just like I do now. But, now I don't have to worry about seats not being available when I want to travel. Swa has always been very customer oriented and always will be. These changes were not made overnight. They were based on what "we" as customers asked for over the years. Do you really think SWA would change something that would alienate their passengers???? They are still the best airline around!!!!!!!.
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So, the airline with the most loyal client base is replacing the best, simplest and most customer-friendly FF program in the industry with this Rube Goldberg contraption? I think we were expecting chicken salad from SWA and we are now being served some other chicken by-product.
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Anon and Dan said it perfectly! I agree that Southwest has made a change that most of their frequent fliers will not appreciate (I am one of them). I fly Southwest because they are different-- now they will be the same as any other airline, but without the benefit of first class! I travel 2 weeks per month and am thinking about changing which airline I fly frequently.
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You got my attention, there go my credits, here comes my points, you got my money oh and ... do you want Fries to go with it?
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Anon 10:03, I'd read all through their informative website before I posted and I've read through it again today after cooling down, and my previous assessment stands. Southwest is making a catastrophic mistake, and I say this as not only a flier but as a stock holder. SWA is alienating the same people that have kept them afloat all these years to pursue people who by my reckoning, aren't buying what they're selling either (business travelers).
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Paula, a long time Southwest flyer and fan I have been a great fan of Southwest for many years. I thought you made a lot of good improvements especially the numbered line up loading program. i also thought that you had the BEST and most simplified loyalty program of any airline and I have been a frequent flyer on most of the major airlines. HOWEVER, this change is a black eye for SWA. It is complex and a takeaway. I don't want points and a hard way to redeem them. Possibly it will be more profitable for you, but I think that I will consider switching to JetBlue for my regular trips up the West Coast. Please note that this is the first blog I have ever posted. Obviously, your announcement made a BIG, NEGATIVE impact on me.
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New Awards Visa program is a 34% reduction is Awards benefit using SWA Visa card. Sample benefit analysis below Wanna Get a Way round trip cost between Sacramento Ca and West Palm Beach Fl is $428. Under old credit plan a round trip cost one award (16 credits x $1200 spent) or $19200. Assuming an award is on par with a Wanna Get a Way which it is not as the Award is work more. Under the new Points program one round cost for a Wanna Get a Way (1pts per $ spent x 60 pts per $ flight cost x $428) $25680. For a Anytime flight it is equivalent to $52080 spent on SWA Visa. This is a reduction of benefit of ((25680-19200)/19200) 34% or greater if an Award is valued at a higher rate such as an Anytime flight. I love SWA and I have been a SWA Visa customer for 12 Years. Now I am not happy.
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As a SWA RR member for business every monday and friday; I will benefit from this new program ONLY because I fly so often in Business Select. However; If you must go forward with this transition I urge the following: 1) at least allow those RR members who are between the 0-16 points needed in the old system for a free flight to select whether or not they want to have those credits they have on March 1 transitioned to points in the new system; or continue on the old system til they reach 16. Example: I have 1.25 RR credits from one flight and don't fly anymore between now and March 1 because I don't like the new program. On March1; you give me the option to keep that 1.25 credits and earn 14.75 more for a free flight; or allow me to get the point equivilation on the new system when it starts since it will take a while before i get those 14.75 RR credits. 2) I hope you will learn from all of this feedback that before you make a change in any program relating to your customers; you send out an email or survey to all of your RR members so they can give feedback instead of basing your changes on what you think or what only a few of your RR members think will be good for them.
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LUV the wi-fi....how about using the drink coupons for the wi-fi fee...don't drink but I do wi-fi
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Well how about listening to your customers??? There's been near universal dislike for your changes to the RR program, in all the Blog entries on the subject. If you really want to say you listen to us, you will NOT implement the changes!
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This is the comments I left at the Cranky Flier regarding the new program. Nearly half of my flights over past 30 years have been on Southwest. In the past 8 years, all flights (51) have been on Southwest. As an airline enthusiast, I want to fly different airlines and different airliners. But I have picked Southwest, with its one type of aircraft, for two reasons: - The ability to cancel a non-refundable fare and to have the full amount available as a credit for up to a year - The simplicity of the frequent flier program. 1 flight, 1 credit. 16 credit, free flight. So simple even a child can understand it. Up until a few years ago there were no blackout dates for free flights. They went to black out dates. Okay, I can live with that. After all, it was theoretically possible that a flight would operate with all passengers using their free flight. Seeing as I don't often change reservations, Southwest now has given me, to quote their motto, the freedom to move about the country on different airlines and airliners. Admit the mistake. Many passengers may have requested the change but I have the feeling a majority did not.
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I've been flying Southwest since I started college and that was almost 10 yrs ago. I've gotten several of my friends to sign up as well. WHY? Because it is so simple. Yeah, you have an annual fee but hey, 8 ROUND TRIPS = 1 FREE TRIP. You know how many long distance relationships signed up just for that?? AND NOW YOU ARE TAKING IT AWAY. This I know, come next year, I will not be renewing. I'll use up my remaining 2 standard awards (oh btw, thanks a lot for so many freaking blackout dates, it was a pain trying to arrange a trip with a friend who was also trying to use a standard awards) and say adios. Plus, I get enough crap from my colleagues in the consulting world about flying on such a "commoner" airline.
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Steve, while I am feeling like I am in the minority of customer posts here (I actually am optomistic about the new program), I find your article causing me to react about the same way I do when I hear the average auto dealer advertisement. You don't say it, but you imply that you think its easy to explain. Steve, SWA is moving from the easiest to the most complex in the industry. There are 6 conversion levels, three for earning, and three for redeeming. You are right, you need audio files and a website to learn it. SWA makes it clear, and we all should get it: those that purchase higher priced tickets will get more of the "reward" cut. For me, I can accept that, even though I normally am a "get away" fare purchaser. I also understood it in 2006 when you made a big deal out of removing blackout dates! I knew, that seat capacity controls was going to be a bigger limitation, and bigger devaluing of my "free" benefits, even though you (just like the car dealers) really only shouted "No More Blackout Dates!"
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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.