Southwest Is Making Some Big Upgrades to Its Loyalty Program

The airline's Rapid Rewards program will see some major changes come January 1, 2024.

Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines
Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines

Saddle up, because your upcoming Southwest rides are about to be much more exciting—or, at least, more rewarding.

The airline just announced that it is implementing a few significant changes to its loyalty program—dubbed Rapid Rewards—in an effort to make it easier for passengers to not only obtain, but also enjoy upgraded membership status.

The main gist of it can be summed up in just a few words—fly less, earn more. Beginning January 1, 2024, Rapid Rewards members will only need to fly 20 one-way qualifying flights (instead of the former 25) or earn 35,000 tier-qualifying points within one calendar year to officially reach A-List status. Making A-List Preferred status faster will also be possible too. As of January 1, members will need to fly just 40 one-way qualifying flights (previously, they were 50) or earn 70,000 tier-qualifying points within one calendar year to do so.

Upgrades are also planned for Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card members. From January 1, 2024 onwards, cardmembers will be able to get 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $5,000 spent using one of the select cards. Previously, to make the same amount of points, members had to spend $10,000.

Select passengers will be able to reap their benefits on air, too. Starting as early as November 6, A-List Preferred Members will be treated to up to two complimentary premium drinks per flight.

Last but definitely not least, the airline is also rolling out a booking policy change that many will be pleased to hear. Starting next spring, Rapid Rewards Members will finally be able to book and pay for their flight using a combination of both cash and points, which can be as few as 1,000.

"We're making our award-winning Rapid Rewards program even stronger, by adding new enhancements to our loyalty program, making it even easier for Members to earn and enjoy their benefits," Jonathan Clarkson, VP of marketing at Southwest Airlines, said in a statement. "By lowering the tier requirements and making credit card spend count double toward tier requirements, we're able to deepen engagement with our brand and cobranded credit cards, while maintaining the core program values that our Customers know and love—including unlimited reward seats, no blackout dates, and points that don't expire."

Earlier in September, Delta also introduced some changes to its loyalty program, but they weren't welcomed with as much enthusiasm. Starting in February 2025, Delta is limiting the number of Sky Club visits that select Amex cardholders can make per year using their credit card. Up until now, there was no cap.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.