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Rapid Rewards Followup

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Hey, folks!  We know that there is a lot of buzz out there regarding our announcement of the new Rapid Rewards program.  We have been monitoring Customer feedback on all of our channels, and we know there is some concern about what the new program will mean for our Customers. 

Rest assured, the new Rapid Rewards program is based on what our Customers have been asking us to change over the years, and it was very carefully designed by and responsive to an extensive set of Customer research and feedback from our Members.  With more understanding of the benefits of the new program, we feel that our Customers will ultimately agree that the changes make the program better. 

That said, we realize this is a big change for our Customers.  That is why we have developed a web site specifically designed to help our Members understand the new program and what it will mean for them.  We encourage you to visit www.newrapidrewards.com and see for yourself how the new program works.  You’ll find a wealth of information, along with some videos, that will walk you through the changes.  If you still have specific questions or concerns, please post below, and we’ll find an answer for you!

279 Comments
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I was talking to a friend who is a temporary employee specifically hired for SWA for their All New Rapid Rewards program, and he tells me that he was told that they are banned from reading the blogs on here and the bosses are like prison guards when it comes to what they can read and say about this new program. NO KIDDING!!!! I believe it is because Southwest knows what a mistake they made and they are afraid that their ambassadors will know it too (as if they haven't already figured it out). WOW...what a letdown from a company that claims that they are the customer focused and friendly. SWA, it looks like your future is grim....if there is a future for SWA!
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While I understand that change is hard, a business has to innovate and stay competitive in order to survive. From my perspective this new system sounds pretty fair. Yes it is different, but it's pretty clear the old way wasn't going to be sustainable for much longer. And why should the $59 guys get the same benefit as me if I pay $159 for my flight. When I buy a large coffee I pay more and get more coffee than the person who buys a small. I don't see anyone complaining about this at Starbucks.
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how are points earned on senior fares?
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I have been a Rapid Rewards member for nearly 20 years. In addition I am a shareholder for over 15 years. I am in agreement with most individuals that this revision is not good. I would tend to always look first on Southwest when purchasing tickets (multiple times per year) as I don't want to lose any credits due to the 24 month expiration. With the changes no need to worry about that angle anymore. In addition I like the simplicity and the egalitarianism (isn't that what southwest is all about) of the old program. As both a customer and shareholder cut the loses and stick with the old program
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I am an A lister and companion pass. I fly throughout the U.S. on about 30 roundtrips per year for work. In the past, about 25 of these were with Southwest. Now, about 5 of them will be with Southwest. You have taken away my incentive to fly your airline. You just lost a 15+ year customer. American Airlines here I come.
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Love the fact that you keep saying these changes were from "customer feedback" yet I havent read ANY positive feedback about these changes. So, I call BS on that point. And I second the notion that no one is "confused" of the changes. Everyone is just unhappy with the changes.
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You can spin it any way you want to, put up all the web sites in the world and out right LIE that customers asked for this abortion but the bottom line is that SWA instituted this boondoggle for it's own benefit, not the customers. No matter how you structure it, getting to free flights is now MORE difficult not LESS. This is another step by current management to destroy in less than a decade what Herb Kelleher built in 30 years. This airline is NO DIFFERENT than any other american airline and in some cases its now WORSE than most. Too bad, I have flown with SWA since it's beginnings in the mid '70's and I have never EVER seen such a 180 turn so fast. This move is a farce that is sure to backfire. Can you say "New Coke"??
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After reviewing again and again over the past three days the changes to RR, I have several points to make that I think sum up what some (if not all) of us are thinking at this point: 1) STOP treating us like idiots - we CAN do the math. Instead of a factor of 8 (for a free flight) the factor is now at least 10 trips... sometime MORE. Telling us that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread is INSULTING. Colleges will be offering lessons in this debacle one day. 2) There are TWO positive changes - that rewards don't expire and that ALL seats will be available. That said, the conversation should have gone something like this: We are going to allow you to book ANY flight with your awards AND they are never going to expire. In exchange for those alterations, we will be increasing the number of flights (or you may choose to pay MORE for your flights) to EARN a reward. At least that is HONEST - those videos are deceiving and again insulting to us. 3) Many of us ONLY choose LUV to fly - but there are cheaper and sometimes easier flights on other airlines which we can take. We feel as though this change impacts your CORE BASE (at our expense) to court the business traveler who can pay more for their tickets and have their travel dept. pick up the tab. WE over the years, MADE LUV WHAT IT IS... then you turn around and LIE TO US trying to SELL us this new RR program. IS that what your core customers really mean to you? 4) Intellectualy, many of us know that these changes are made to impact your bottom line and as shareholders many of us are wondering HOW this bad press will impact you longer term. Should we sell our stock? WIll the program help draw new business or drive away existing business? My bet right now is on the latter... but your reaction in the next few days could change that. Spending $100M on this program without doing CORE focus groups is corporate suicide. You HAD to know the reaction this was going to bring.... WE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT LUV... and that's why this change hurts so much - you basically are charging us more for very little in return. As others have said - SWA just becomes another airline of many... it doesn't matter which one we board. Thanks for reading and trying to understand.
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This has got to be one the worst blunders ever for SW I really feel bad for the persons who will take the fall out for this. I just don't understand why you would make these kind of changes. Please don't tell us one more time about how it's improved. Just be honest and talk money. Bottom line how much is it saving you. We can understand business decisons don't play this game of "improved" the comments say it all we are not buying it.
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I won't waste space recapitulating all the nuances of why I think SWA is wrong to go in this direction. It is simple in my mind. I've been a loyal SWA customer for twenty years. Why? Two reasons: I felt like they cared about and appreciated my business--it permeates the experience from customer service to flight attendants, crew and even maintenance personnel. Secondly, They showed me appreciation for my business and loyalty with the RR program. With all of the other carrier bait and switch deals and programs requiring a math degree and CPA to collect on, SWA made it easy: Fly 8 round trips and you got a free ticket with no restrictions--find an open seat and get on. I miss that. This seems like the final nail in the coffin of being an appreciated customer, and transitioning to a faceless revenue source. Go back to your roots, please--it obviously served you well in your rise to your position of prominence. thanks.
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This is very disappointing. All of us loyal customers would be much happier if Southwest would man-up and admit a mistake. Keep the old program. Since Brian said they need to cut cost, why not start by charging for the second bag!
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The system is simple - pay more, earn more, pay less, earn nothing. Free flights will now be reserved for those who purchase full fare and business select - do the math. I suspect this change is due to the AirTrans acquisition - sorry folks, the good ole days of free flights are over for 80% of us...
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I like the change because I am going to be making a killing on points!!! I am already A list from last year and the way I fly business select I will be preferred in about 6 round trip flights (unless I am compt to preferred to start with) Now I can double dip my Hilton points as there is no way I am going to only get 600 points for one hotel stay. I bit of a let down there. I like the free internet for the preferred members. That is a nice perk. I will say for as much as I really do fly you have addressed issues for the business class flier. Now just waiting for March 1 to role around to start earning my 200,000 points I am going to earn this year.
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"Rest assured, the new Rapid Rewards program is based on what our Customers have been asking us to change over the years" I highly doubt we asked you to create a less rewarding, more expensive program for us. But in any case, since you're apparently so intent on listening to what we have to say, if we ask you to change it back, will you? Rest assured, this is what we want.
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No matter how many times you tell us RR 2.0 is better for us, we won't believe it. Funny thing is, we have calculators too, and yeah, we know how to use them. RR 2.0 encourages us upgrade our fares to business select, and rightfully so. Using OAK-LAX as an example, $168 (Business Select) x 12 = 2,016 pts x 3 flights = 6,048 pts (Wanna Get Away Award) Purchase 3 flights, and you get a free flight, yay! Really? After spending $504+, this averages to $126 per flight. VERSUS. $81 (Wanna Get Away) x 6 = 486 pts x 13 flights = 6,318 pts (Wanna Get Away Award) Purchase 13 flights, then get one free! After spending $1,053, this averages to be $75 per flight....a whooping $6 discount per flight! I've taken enough Southwest flights to know that its not worth paying almost double to stand in front of me in the boarding line. And once you get on the plane and its free seating, that's when it really hits you. It's definitely not worth it. The way I see it, RR 2.0 benefits the minority of customers who are idiotic enough to pay more for practically the same thing or have flown enough to earn that privilege. You know what SW sales were exciting? Because customers knew that the same amount of credit would be earned, but for a cheaper price. With RR 2.0, that is gone. It's still in our best interests to purchase during sales, but we should completely forget about earning rewards. Essentially, you've effectively destroyed the rewards program and alienated a majority of your customers without completely seeming so. I think congratulations are in order--it certainly is a brilliant move on your part. But please don't feed us lies about how we "asked for these changes" and how it's "more rewarding." Quite frankly, it's insulting.
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It's amazing to me when seemingly intelligent people can take a bag of crap and try to sell it as a desirable product. But that is precisely what your marketing department is doing with your so-called "improved" Rapid Rewards program. And judging from the comments here, I'm not alone is my disappointment. You've taken the best reward system in the industry and turned it into a complicated clone of the failing airlines' programs. I'm sure you hope that customers will buy into the new system because of the flowery adjectives you use to describe it. But we can do the math and we intensely dislike what we see. To boil things down to the simplest common denominator, a free round trip that used to take 16 flights will now require 20, with all factors being equal. And my inability to utilize unused funds for my clients' transportation is another bummer. I've been a diehard fan of Southwest Airlines as long as I've been flying, but that has changed. When my current credits and companion pass awards are gone I'll look elsewhere. And I'll soon be expressing my opinion on all this on my YouTube channel which gets 600K views a day.
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Hello Frequent Flyers: The revised numbering system brought early critism but turned out to be an improvement. SWA has modified the numbering system over the years and installed the grouping poles in the terminals. You still have to watch the clock for the exact minute for the 24 hour check in requirement unless of course you pay the extra $10.00. All for improving the system. SWA is far different than the rest airlines - I fly SWA not so much for the free tickets but for the flexibility of cancelling and changing flights - they do not charge a penality for changing flights and you keep the original fare as a credit good for 12 months. Making a change on another airline will cost you at least $100.00 up front plus the cost of the new fare. Then of course - free bags! Yes, you should still buy "wanna get away fares" just keep the savings for future flights. Why? If you purchase "wanna get away" tickets the savings go into your pocket not SWA's. Use the money saved to purchase future tickets, when you purchase business select the additional fare is going straight to SWA's accounts for the investment income to offset the cost of the free tickets. They are not free to the customer, you are simply pre-paying for the future ticket. All credit card, hotel, rental car and airline reward systems work this way to encourage you to spend more money now, the longer they have your money "working" the better investment return to pay for the perks. Another example of this is when you buy the tickets in advance verses the day before the flight - you will see the ticket price increase due to the loss of their investment income of the money working over time. Hotels give you the best price if you pay 100% up front when you make the reservation instead of paying upon departure. All industries benefit greatly when they have your money "working" for them before the product is delivered. Probably the oldest example is the IRS since you are pre-paying your taxes all year long prior to the actual due date on April 15th. Insurance companies work on the investment income to pay claims that come "later". Southwest is simply getting your money now, to pay their claims (free flights) later. Safe Travels Everyone!
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The way I see the RapidRewards program changes is that Southwest took a reasonably well-working customer loyalty program and has now made it practically worthless! These changes penalize the short-distance travelers BIG TIME! In my case, 8 Detroit-Chicago roundtrips were the BEST deal among the entire domestic airline industry. Flying on the other airlines would have required me a make 3 times as many trips to earn a free ticket. But now, I won't expect to accumulate sufficient points even to fly a short roundtrip like Detroit-Chicago for many more trips, forget the long-distnace Rapid Rewards ticket. I am extremely disappointed to see the earning power of the Rapid Rewards program having diminished to practically nothing. Way to go Southwest! I hope you honestly reconsider rolling back a number of these customer-unfriendly changes in your new Rapid Rewards!
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Brian, one quick question for you. Obviously, SWA has built in an incentive for booking business select seats. One problem I've had in the past is that on certain routes Business Select fills up and is not available. Will Southwest increase the number of Business Select seats available, or at least allow persons to continue to purchase Business Select if the first 15 slots are already booked? As someone who primarily does short haul, intra-Texas flights, but purchases most tickets within 48 hours of flying, I think I will be all right with the new system, but greater business select opportunities would be appreciated. Finally, will anyone be comped to the A List preferred status starting on 3/1? For those of us who have flown consistently 50-100 rt's per year for many years, that would be a very nice and deserved perk. Thanks for putting yourself out there to take questions (and a whole lot of abuse as well).
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Southwest, I'm disappointed. I recently moved to Golden, CO (near Denver) from Cleveland. I had plans to be travelling a lot - holidays, weekends, surprise visits. I *was* routinely booking with southwest without doing much comparison shopping for two reasons: 1) I knew that your ticketing policies were bar-none the most flexible in the industry, and 2) I knew that my loyalty would be rewarded with free tickets on a regular basis. Your new rapid rewards program significantly increases the amount of round-trips I'll need to obtain a free flight, and is making me question just how valued I am as a customer. As it is, I will not rack up the 7,200 (essentially, 1/2 of a one way) points I'll need to buy the remaining RR credits I'll need - you're putting me on a clean slate here and I *do not* appreciate that in the least. United/Continental offers regular nonstop service from Denver to Cleveland. American has always treated me like gold even as an infrequent flier (I may have to pay change fees with both carriers, but I know what I'm getting). Both of these carriers offer international service to places I'd like to visit. Are you sure you're really making decisions that are in your best interests here?
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Let's see...I just bought a full fare ticket for $266 and earned 2600 points (10 points/dollar spent). If I want to use points to buy the same $266 ticket, it will cost 26,600 points (100 points/dollar). So, I need to buy 10 round trips to earn 1 round trip. Under the old program, this round trip would have earned 2 credits. 16 credits would get me a round trip ticket, so I would need to buy only 8 round trips to earn 1 round trip. Sounds like a hosing to me, SWA....NUTS TO YOU !!!
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I have been a loyal Southwest Airlines customer for the past 3 years, and don't recall a single solicitation from Southwest Airlines seeking feedback or input to changes to their RapidRewards program. So I am curious to know who these customers may be, based on whose feedback, Southwest has reportedly changed the RapidRewards program. I think Southwest missed one change.. it should be no longer called the RAPID Rewards program! More apt title may be NO Rewards! As I understand, the RapidRewards program is (was?) a customer loyalty program, but the changes make it pretty much worthless. I am a short-distance business traveler (Detroit-Chicago) and Southwest's RapidRewards program was way better than the other airlines (Delta / American / United). The changed RapidRewards program benefits will now be less than those of the other airlines! How does this improvement sound to you? The other airlines at least offer a roundtrip reward ticket starting at 25,000 miles worth of points, and that ticket could be any distance in the lower 48 states; but the changes to the RapirdRewards program penalize me not only when earning the points, but also when redeeming those points! I am very disappointed in Southwest Airlines! You just took a pretty good customer loyalty rewards program and made it worse than those other airlines...
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I have divide(d) my flights between UA (Premier Exec) and SW (A List) for the past 4 years. I liked SW as it was a great way to earn rewards so my husband could occasionally join me after a business trip. Well that plan is sure no longer an option. In 2011 I will make 1k on UA as I have no need to ever step foot on a SW flight again. You guys blew it big time. My company requires we choose the least expensive flights, so booking business won't happen. Plus, who wants that cattle call boarding process. Next year I am curious to see how much revenue you lost by screwing your loyal patrons.
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I don't have a problem with the new RR. I never pay to fly WN as I have the Chase WN card. If I look at the program per dollar spent it works out for me as I book my WN tickets pretty far out as I am flying for vacations etc. So on a dollar for dollar basis I could save money. As a corporate travel agent my clients are happy as they are being rewarded for buying YL or Business Select fares. Doing the math I have the potentiality of more frequent reward tickets. My two most frequent destinations are SFO and LGA. Thankfully LGA is one of the most price competative markets out of MDW.
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Ship Happens!!!!
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Hi Finn, I don't know if they will add Business Select seats or not. Sometimes the seats are sold out because we won't sell Business Select if there is a large load of through Customers. If there are 70 throughts lets say, a Business Select Customer doesn't get much use out of boarding early so we won't sell it in that case.
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I think some of the loyal customers that are posting negative comments on this blog have forgotten what the other airlines are like. Nobody likes change because it takes them out of their comfort zone. I have seen numerous posts from people saying how they always book on Southwest without even considering the other airlines but now that will change. I hope they live up to their threats and check out the other airlines. They will find out how much more other airlines charge to get to the same destination and all the extra fees they will incur. Plus, the customer service at Southwest can't be touched!! I urge you all to go out and comppare the New RR program to the other airlines frequent flier programs and post your results. As always you will continue to get more for your money when you fly Southwest in flights and rewards. Keep in mind a fequent flier program is a 'bonus" not a right. It only makes sense that a frequent flier program rewards those who actually fly frequently. Southwest still rewards the person who doesn't take a ton of flights by letting them aquire points with the RR Visa and now points won't expire as long as there is some sort of activity every 24 months so you won't lose those hard earned points like you do with the current credit system.
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SWA - apparently you don't get it. We've read the new rules, looked at the website to learn more. What have we learned? You are throwing away your relationship with THOUSANDS loyal customers. Please stop sending the message that we just need to learn more and we will be happy with the changes. We looked; you are stabbing your base in the back (the nicest metaphor I could use in public space). It's not time for us to learn more - It's time for you to rethink your "new" Rewards model.
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The one thing SWA stood for was PR BS spew like the BAGS FLY FREE thing - that is SWA. In PLAIN ENGLISH, here is what you get ... but this whole program needs a video to explain and it still makes NO SENSE. What does that tell us? It's too complicated to CONFUSE US and that is NOT SWA. Well, at least not the older BETTER SWA.
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SW, I dont think this change was brought on by customers as much as it was by your stockholders. Quit telling us that it's raining while you spit on our legs. I am a long time SW customer and it never occured to me that the program needed changing, nor have I EVER heard fellow road warriors ask for it. This is not the customer service model that Herb founded the company on!
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come on everyone your acting like all of a sudden SWA is punching everyone in the face and stealing there wallets the new program helps everyone out it just helps the one the help SWA more, more and the ones who help SWA less, less. They're still helping them out though you guys are upset that SWA stopped letting everyone punch them in the face? be reasonable the old program was good and simple but hurt SWA in the long run because of people who would take advantage of it, people would buy 8 round trips at the $50 fares and the get a free round trip and book it on a flight that was valued at $400 and thats what you "core" customers are doing and your admiting it here on the blog saying you fly short hauls to get your free round trip to go somewhere else. Basically your telling SW that your mad that they arent paying you to fly with them anymore. What you can do is buy a few Business class tickets and earn A LOT of points and use those points to more WGA fare flights free say you buy 3 BCS from LAX-ISP at $474, multiply that by 12 thats 5,688 make it a round trip then its 11,376 points per round trip; so 3 of those flights is 34,128. Now you want to redeem a free flight, redeem a WGA flight not a BCS flight at $224 needing $26,880. that adds up to 1 free round way for only 3 free roud ways. sounds like Southwest is helping those out that are willing to help them out plenty. It just sounds to me like they're tired of handing out cookies to everyone and getting crumbs in return.
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You've heard it before...I have been a loyal customer and A-list and companion pass holder for years. The implemenation of this new program will just force me, for the first time in years, to fly another airline with the lowest price. Way to destroy customer loyalty!!!! Should have called Coka-cola to see how drastic change worked out for them!!!!! New Coke.....All New Rapid Rewards....Fools!!!
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I agree with many of you on here, both good and bad! Things are changing and SWA can't always stay the same if they expect to succeed in the future. For goodness sakes people, the Rapid Rewards system has been the same for over 20 years! It's time for a change. There is no way to please everyone and stay in business! Sure, I don't like that it's going to take me more money and more flights because I fly primarily Wanna Get Away fare flights, but so what. Like one poster said, this is a "REWARDS" program, NOT a right! It is a luxury that is given by Southwest and much appreciated. If you aren't happy with the changes then go fly with anther airline and waste your money as you wish, after all, it is your money to waste. I will still fly SWA and I will still use my Rapid Rewards account to earn free flights. Good job SWA for moving into the future!
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I DON'T LIKE THE NEW SOUTHWEST! Now charging to change a flight even on full fare tickets. Don't forget what made Southwest a great airline! Also, don't forget what made Southwest stand out from the others! Now, Southwest is just another one of those big airlines that charges you for everything. The rewards program is changing. What next? Are you going to start charging for bags too? Why not, everything has gone to the dogs! These changes are VERY DISAPOINTTING to me. I know I'm just one customer, but I've been loyal to Southwest for years. Now, I'm not sure why I ever was loyal. The way I see it, Southwest doesn't care about the customer, just more money. Don't forget, greed will get the best of you. I hope Southwest wakes up and changes back to the keep it simple program before it's too late. If not, I hope Southwest goes down with the others! There was a number of things that I liked about Southwest, but you are taking all those things away. I guess, I'll just have to start flying other airlines to see if I can find one that cares about their customers like Southwest used too! I hope these changes fail and Southwest changes back before it's too late as I really did like Southwest until now! Signed, Very Unhappy Customer
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Brian, For years, I have touted the customer friendliness of 3 companies: the best insurance company (USAA), the best supermarket chain (Wegman's) and the best airline (Southwest). Why Southwest? The simplicity and generosity of its rewards program. Wow, was it great! But it will clearly drop several notches for me, as I finally approach retirement and could take full advantage of it, as it used to be. What a shame! It was just too good to last. Could you please clarify one thing for me? I am 17.5 credits from a companion pass, and on target to get it by April 15. Will all of my 82.5 points, earned in 2010, continue to count toward a companion pass after March 1? It isn't clear to me after reviewing the web information, and two different Southwest employees couldn't be certain.
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I, for one, would like to give the new program a chance. I have been a loyal SW flier for 10 years, and I really liked the old RR program. But, from what I've seen on the intro website, the new plan seems more flexible, if also more complicated. I'm sure SW will be listening to its customers very closely over the next several months, as they express their opinions with their keyboards (and their dollars), and will tweak the program as necessary.
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Why do you insist on fixing something that isn't broken? How about we start with having an ontime departure after 2pm. If u live on the west coast you know what I mean. By 5pm east coast time southwests operations on the west coast are consistentley delayed every single day, with or without sfo groundstops. So, please, can we fix one thing at a time? Believe it or not, your business travelers like to get home ontime after a day trip. Rapid rewards I have no comment on until it rolls out, other than I just wish you would have fixed your delays first. Can't u just schedule more ground time for your planes since they are delayed everyday. this would reduce the delays caused by, well, as u put it high passenger loads and connecting passengers. Seems like the planes are on the ground longer now anyways, so why not just schedule it like that and avoid the delays. Thanks
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Columbia Bob, Yes they will. Very Unhappy Customer Not sure where you are getting information about flight changes, but our policy remains unchanged since the mid-80s when we began advance purchase discount fares. (By the way, if we had had the internet and social media back then, I am sure that change would have set off a similar outcry.) Our current commercials are trying to reinforce that message.
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One last time/summation Brian - If the SWA folks haven't gotten the message here goes! - we understand change and the obligation for you to alter a successful (if not totally profitable) program... after all many of us are shareholders too.. even if we are NOT the business traveler that this change appeals to. What we object to is the PR SPIN that says this program is GREAT! NEW! and especially BETTER! It is NOT. We have calculators and if not, most of us can add in our heads. I do not think there would have been this UPROAR if you would have just been HONEST with us. I said it before, the conversation should have gone something like this: We are changing our RR program to every seat every day and your credits/points (whatever) will no longer expire... in exchange for that, we are requiring you to fly 10 round-trips vs. the current 8 to obtain an award. It's the SPIN and out and out LYING that we object to. It's INSULTING and certainly NOT a way to treat your (or any) customer. Thanks!
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It's very clear to me why Southwest is making these changes. They are hoping to lose their "cost conscience" customers to other airlines. Why fill the aircraft with people who bought the "cheap seats" when they can try to attract more business customers who pay 3x the amount for the same flight. With the "cheap seats" empty, more high paying "high class" people can fill the plane. In this same vein...after all the 'small' customers have left, they can then start charging fees, put in a separate first class section and raise prices even more. I really think they are looking for a "quality" customer (aka. the spender), rather than what they have now "quantity" (aka. the low class)
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The A-list has always been earned by flying and not by using the Chase card. The A-list is actually a better deal with the new program. previously you would need 32 one-way flights to earn A list status, now you just need 25 one-ways. The A-list Preferred is a new grouping that has been added that you need 50 one way flights.
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*** Ding!!!! *** New RR is a joke. I've been an exclusive Southwest flyer for the last five years....but I just booked my next business trips on US Airways and Delta, something I thought I would never do. The new RR is a joke, as it sticks it to loyal customers to made a lot of short haul trips. The main reason why I was a loyal Southwest customer was that your company had a sensible frequent flyer program that was easy to understand. (Unlike the bureacratic nonsense that your competitors use.) Now, you've just joined the pack. Now, instead of a simple plan that I can easlily figure out, you've replaced it with an complex system that really tells your loyal short haul flyers to go elsewhere. Seriously, people, this is New Coke for your company. I had a bad feeling when the merger was announced...I knew down inside that the Southwest I knew and loved was headed in the wrong direction. It couldn't be good when your management started dropping hints about a new "improved" RR, which is airlinespeak for "we're gonna screw you." In case your customers don't know, Southwest's "on time performance" has falled into the gutter now as well, now that you're flying into nightmare airports like BOS and LGA. About the only good thing SWA has announced this year has been South Carolina service and that should have done years ago to pick at the scab that is ATL. Ironically, I just sold off my LUV shares after the merger, as I don't see things getting better. It's obvious that Mr. K has left the building. If I still was a shareholder, you'd bet I'd be raising holy hell at the next shareholder's meeting.
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I fly Southwest Airlines at least 2x's per week and have done so for years. I have been on the frontlines of support for the "greatness" of SWA and how they make it easy for the consumer. Like many things we are all dealing with these days, this too has changed. They've made a once simple to understand program incredible complex… just like every other airline. It’s not as much about understanding the complexities of the new program, it’s what Rapid Rewards has become… just like every other airline loyalty program. This should be the new slogan, "Southwest Airlines.... just like the rest". I've read through the information provided, and simply stated the new program is bad for us... the advocates, the real voice of the company. All of us who have sung the praises of the Rapid Rewards program will now use the same voice to speak to frustration, abandonment, corporate greed. If you need to save some money, stop sending me e-mails every 20 minutes about some special savings which really isn’t special at all. I don’t need to see the Bag Police commercials every three minutes… we got it. Save your money, bring back the original Rapid Rewards program. We have choices… I gave up flying first class because I believed in the spirit of Southwest (I don’t mean a wise cracking flight attendant). If Southwest chooses to change, I can change too. I already have this week. I just flew United for a local flight for the first time in 8 years. Guess what…it’s not so bad! Very frustrated but excited about a new relationship with United Airlines!
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My biggest problem with the new program was that you took a very simple and straight-forward reward program and turned it into a convoluted mess. I have a graduate degree in finance and I can certainly do the math on the new program, but the point is, I shouldn't have to. In an era of starpoints, and thankyou points, frequent flyer miles, etc. there was something simple and beautiful about knowing I could fly 8 roundtrips and earn a reward flight. So long to simplicity...
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I fly often for business and pleasure and recently switched to SWA because of the great reward program. It was worth it to me to drive past my own city's convenient airport and go 50 miles to a SWA serviced airport. Now I wonder why I'll bother driving when I can't get anything better than the same lousy program I already hate from the big-3 at my closer regional. Sorry, SWA ... you've lost a big edge with this one. Go back to your old system, and I'll bring my business right back. Until then, not worth the effort -- I'll fly United and Delta.
New Arrival
My earlier question was meant to ask if there will be a way to convert points from partner reward programs to the new RR points, similar to the way Diners Club points will be converted (1500 Diners Club points convert to 1200 RR points). Right now, I have the ability to convert Marriott points, LaQuinta points, Hyatt points, etc., to RR credits; will I still have that ability on March 1? ----------------------------- anonymous 17;54 yes you can earn points from partners. Check out the "earn" page at newrapidrewards.com and look at the partners features. Actually , we look to add more partners with the points system because that is an easier "currency" to trade with potential partners that credits. Brian Lusk — Fri, 01/07/2011 - 18:49 ----------------------------- Question about partner relationships: will there be a way to redeem points from partner reward programs (hotels, etc.) for RR points, similar to the relationship with Diners Club? Anonymous — Fri, 01/07/2011 - 17:54 ----------------------------
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Southwest is really shooting itself in the foot with this change. By making points never expire as long as you have some earning or redemption activity every 24 months, they're really making me that much less likely to fly them. It was actually the fact that you HAD to get 16 credits in 24 months that kept me flying them again and again...even on trips that I probably shouldn't have. For example, I took a trip from the Bay Area to Gallatin Field/Bozeman (BZN) in 2009. I quickly realized that no carrier offered direct flights from any Bay Area airport to BZN...I could have taken a single carrier: United out of SFO, with one stop, but I had some Southwest points I wanted to earn. The solution? Simple! SJC to LAS on Southwest, LAS to BZN on Allegiant Air, BZN to DEN on United, and then DEN to SJC on Southwest. Why? Because I wanted to earn my 16 credits, and had a limited amount of time with which to do it. With this change, all I would have to do is just rent a car, or stay at a hotel, ONCE every 24 months under my RR account. I wouldn't even have to fly Southwest in order to keep my points! And if RR 2.0 had been in effect back then, I probably wouldn't have even bothered to fly Southwest on that trip, because I had flown them just 5 months prior and 1 month following that trip. Look, Southwest. I know you have to do something about people who buy 16 $50 WGA fares and then redeem a RR award for a cross-country trip, but this god-awful mess you have created is NOT the answer. Okay, so the original point was to buy 8 round trip tickets and get a round trip of comparable value for free? Then why don't you at least make it 6 points per dollar for WGA purchases, 48 points per dollar to redeem; 10 points per dollar for Anytime purchase, 80 points per dollar to redeem; 12 points per dollar for BS purchase, 96 points per dollar to redeem? Do you think we are so stupid that we can't realize that you've screwed us over by increasing the multiplier from 8 to 10? Or better yet, just have a set number of "points" required to redeem for specific routes: for example SJC to SAN would be 6,000 points one way, while SJC to MCO would be 18,000 points one way. And DO NOT tie the actual redemption cost to the actual dollar value of the fare being purchased. You see, part of the real value of having an Award was that you could book last-minute trips without paying through the nose. By making Award travel different in some way -- you could rebook without having to worry about fare differences -- you increase the value of having the Award in the first place. With the new system, an Award is simply like having money in a personal Southwest account, that you can only use to redeem for flights. In other words, if I have to pay the true cost of the fare (either in dollars or points), I'm going to shop around for the best price...which includes your competitors. And if having an Award does not let me book last minute travel without having to worry about actual fares, I am THAT much less likely to even fly Southwest in the first place to try to get the Award. When combined with the fact that the "points" in the new system never actually expire, you have a disaster of a program that makes me FAR less likely to use your services...and isn't the point of a frequent flyer program to encourage loyalty?
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The previous program was so good in comparison to other programs that it was probably inevitable it would change. And done incrementally, I don't think it would have caused such an uproar. But there's one aspect of this system that directly alienates SWA's longer term customers, and I think is a big negative. SWA grew its base rapidly and profitably by being a low fare airline while also providing excellent customer service for ALL its passengers. It attracted smart but penny pinching customers. The new system rewards those who spend the most disproportionally, and those who spend the least disproportionally. If you want to reward those who spend more, I think your penny-pinching base gets that, although it makes us sad. But to reward them MORE? I realize your base has enlarged over the years. SWA isn't always the lowest cost airline any more. But do you really want to be alienating your long term customers right when you're acquiring AirTran, and you need that word of mouth referral, in say, the Atlanta market? That new customer is my friends and relatives in Atlanta. If they were flying for business, and often needed to make last minute changes, I'd recommend SWA because of the no change fee policy. But since most of their flying is not subject to last minute change, I'm going to say, yes, I once LUVed SWA, but go for the cheapest flight. And you can bet your competitors are going to take advantage of this moment. Because yes, indeed, everyone in Atlanta knows the New Coke story.
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I have a few active Rapid Reward tickets that I intended to let lapse and then reissue for $50 within two years of their expiration date. Under the old system, a RR ticket that expired on June 30, 2011 could be reactivated a day before June 30, 2013 for $50 and it would then be good through June 29, 2014. What is the plan for existing RR tickets' expiration and reissue? Does it stay the same or is there a change? I haven't seen any explanation on this subject. Is there one published somewhere?
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I echo what many have said above. This change sounds like “New Coke” and will be a case study in the future. I read the Dallasnews.com article which indicated that despite carrying more passengers than AA the FF membership was about half. That is not a problem.…that’s like yogi Berra saying “no one goes there cause it is too crowded”. You have loyalty, even from non-loyalty members. Why would you alienate the people who choose your airline over another to increase membership? Why would making the rewards program less attractive increase membership? If you have more passengers, but they don’t cost you money in rewards, that’s a win. I understand you want to increase margins, by getting people to pay more and get less rewards…just state that. The idea that every seat is a rewards seat, is not attractive when that reward seat will cost me at least 10 roundtrips, in most cases far more depending on distance traveled and lead time to buy. My typical scenario is taking $99 flights to visit family in Florida, then getting a reward ticket to Vegas. Since Flights to Vegas are often close to double what I pay to goto FL. It will take me 20 Round trip flights to earn a “reward” ticket. I could fly a competitor approx 12 times at about 1,000 miles per flight and earn that same ticket. The 10 SWA flights I don’t have to take, more than pay for my baggage, and I have the opportunity to find deals other than just at Southwest.com Yes, I need to plan ahead to get that reward seat, but if I don’t plan ahead under the new RR plan, I could be paying even more for my reward seat..thus needing somewhere between 20-30 roundtrips to earn my vegas trip. Thank goodness they don’t expire (sarcasm) My experience, I believe is typical. (just look a this feedback), and yes your margin will increase in that I would pay more for that reward ticket…but if I DON’T take those 10 flights on SWA…you will be like AA- where they carry less people, despite more having more members.