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Free flights in RR program seem much more "expensive" in the last few months!

New Arrival

I've been unpleasantly surprised to see how many miles are required now for flights in the RR program. This devalues the whole program. A one way flight from MDW to PHL is 23,000 pts. Even the less expensive dates are 8,200. I remember booking RT flights for this route and others for 7000-10000 points last year. It's not the first time I've encountered sticker shock this year, seems like there was a major change/increase in points for free flights.

Has anyone noticed how many more points are required to book flights?

Maybe I missed something.

 

4 REPLIES 4
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Re: Free flights in RR program seem much more "expensive" in the last few months!

Rising Star

@zekemcl, I hear you!  You are not really imagining things, but I think it is worth pointing out that Southwest's reward flight point costs are directly related to their cash cost.  So if fares are more expensive, they will also costs more points.  From SW's site: "The number of points needed for a reward flight depends on the fare. So when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming a reward flight."  

 

The best part about that quote is the sale part!  Whenever I book rewards flights, I re-check their point cost every time a fare sale is announced.  By rebooking when the flights go on sale, I have literally saved thousands upon thousands of points over the years.  My approach is to book what I need (since the points are refundable) and then keep checking.

 

Good luck with finding those affordable redemptions!

-A List Preferred, Companion Pass holder, Community Champion.
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Re: Free flights in RR program seem much more "expensive" in the last few months!

Top Contributor

Another factor is that, while points are aligned with the fare cost in dollars, Southwest has slowly been increasing the points/dollar conversion rate over the past few years, and 72 points per $1 is the new "base". (Initially it was 60/$1, then 70/$1, and currently the range is 72 to 80). I often see conversion rates of 76/$1 on some of my routes. That said, there are occasionally deals where it's 70/$1 (or very rarely even in the 60s), but with seemingly no pattern or obvious reason. I suspect it's on undersold routes, and is just an effect of the revenue management program doing it's thing.

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Re: Free flights in RR program seem much more "expensive" in the last few months!

Active Member

You are not wrong! I think Southwest sent us something about this in April but basically Anytime(-22%)  and Business Select Fares(-35%) got easier to redeem with points while Wanna Get Aay Fares(+6%)  got more expensive

 

Here's a more in depth article about it 

 

https://thepointsguy.com/news/southwest-updates-points-value/

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Re: Free flights in RR program seem much more "expensive" in the last few months!

Top Contributor

@bgubs14 wrote:

You are not wrong! I think Southwest sent us something about this in April but basically Anytime(-22%)  and Business Select Fares(-35%) got easier to redeem with points while Wanna Get Aay Fares(+6%)  got more expensive

 

Here's a more in depth article about it 

 

https://thepointsguy.com/news/southwest-updates-points-value/


 

That increase back in April was actually just the latest devaluation -- there have been several others since Southwest moved to the Points-based Rapid Rewards system in 2011. That said, there are still occasionally WGA points fares available for lower than the 76-78 points per $1 they announced. But overall, the average is now higher than it was last year, and significantly higher than the 60 points per $1 it was when the program launched in 2011.