Southwest Looks at Revamping Rapid Rewards, Adding Same Day Standby Rules

Southwest has been circulating a survey to a bunch of fliers to try to explore all sorts of ways to make changes to their offerings. Fortunately, a thoughtful reader took screenshots of every single page of his survey and sent it over to me. Today and tomorrow, I’ll be taking a peak at what they’re asking about.

Please keep in mind that this was just a survey. We know that a change to Rapid Rewards is coming, but we don’t know that this is it. This is apparently just one of the potential scenarios they’ve been floating around. Have a read for yourself.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Change Options in Survey

It looks like they are taking a page from Virgin America and JetBlue with this possible change. You would earn points based on the number of dollars you spend. Higher class fares would get higher earnings (wait until tomorrow, I’ll show this). I don’t mind this piece of the puzzle.

Where I’m not thrilled is with the redemption plan. This program would again be like those of JetBlue and Virgin America in that the redemption amount would vary. In this scenario, it would be directly tied to the selling price at the time you’re looking to redeem. While I see the value in this from an airline standpoint, I remain unimpressed by these programs since you really can’t save up for a free flight. The number is always changing. Of course, a cash + points option would make things somewhat better. If they go this route, I’d hope they’d consider that.

This program would keep the A-list elite benefits, but my guess is that it would turn into more of a full-fledged elite-style program. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it will put a dent in Southwest’s egalitarian persona.

Now let’s switch gears to something that has annoyed most Southwest fliers at one point or another . . . same day standby. While other airlines will generally allow you to standby for another flight on the same day (sometimes for a fee), Southwest has always required that you simply pay the difference in fare to the selling fare available at the time. It looks like they’re now exploring alternatives.

Southwest Same Day Change Options in Survey

So what are they throwing out there? Well, there’s the possibility of same day standby and same day confirmed, just like the other guys offer. They’re also looking at a priority same day standby option that would be offered to the higher fare classes.

It does sound like Southwest is looking at becoming more like the other guys, huh? I hope they move very carefully here. We’ll talk about that more tomorrow when we look at the bigger pricing picture.


12 Responses to Southwest Looks at Revamping Rapid Rewards, Adding Same Day Standby Rules

  1. Free tickets to Columbus with a stop in Albuquerque have never impressed me.

    If they want to take a page from Virgin America then borrow some inventory from Virgin Atlantic and throw in some redemption plans to Europe and South Africa. THAT would get my attention.

  2. V-Oz to Australia would be good to. Just partner with the Virgin Group all around the world. It’s right up Branson’s alley and just enough to tweak the legacy boys without having to haul the freight themselves.

  3. eponymous coward says:

    @CF:

    “While I see the value in this from an airline standpoint, I remain unimpressed by these programs since you really can’t save up for a free flight.”

    Um, I’ve redeemed twice on VX in the space of 3 years, and they’re not my primary airline (AS is). It’s not that hard if you fly them a few times a year.

    WN and VX’s big problem is point expiration… and WN would be eliminating that, it seems, so yes, you should be able to save up. (The part that WN rocks on now is their car/hotel award rates, which totally blow other airlines away. It’s ridiculously easy to get 2 or more RR credits from hotel stays and car rentals on a single trip- the equivalent of a roundtrip on WN or more. I seriously hope that doesn’t go away.)

    @Traveling Optimist:

    “If they want to take a page from Virgin America then borrow some inventory from Virgin Atlantic and throw in some redemption plans to Europe and South Africa.”

    You realize VX doesn’t HAVE those redemption options yet, right?

  4. CF says:

    eponymous coward wrote:

    Um, I’ve redeemed twice on VX in the space of 3 years, and they’re not my primary airline (AS is). It’s not that hard if you fly them a few times a year.

    Sorry, I must not have been clear. My point was that with the current structure, you know what you’re aiming for. You need 25,000 miles or whatever, and that’s your goal. With these revenue-based redemptions, it’s a moving target so you can’t save up for a specific amount and be assured that it will get you what you want.

  5. Columbo says:

    CHARGING TO STANDBY ON AN EARLIER FLIGHT IS RIDICULOUS. IT DOES NOT COST THE AIRLINE ANYTHING TO FILL AN EMPTY SEAT AND PROVIDES EXTRA CUSTOMER SERVICE AND NO CASH COST TO THE AIRLINE. WHAT BETTER FREE ADVERTISEMENT THEN CUSTOMER SEERVICE. I REMEMBER WHEN DELTA’S BEST ADVERTISEMENT WAS WORD OF MOUTH AND DID NOT COST THEM A PENNY. ADVERTISEMENT IS WORTH NOTHING UNLESS YOU PROVIDE THE CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH WITH THE ACTUAL TRIP.

  6. Oliver says:

    The standby option sounds like a very good move if WN implements it properly. I’m sure they’re thinking if there’s a way to get a little revenue for this “perk”. I have a gut feeling they’ll be saying it’s a new added service that adds value to your ticket. *GASP* Is this the change fee?!!?!

    I really hope that WN will not use a point system that is more or less equal to the dollar amount of the ticket. VX and B6’s system isn’t that friendly to redemption. WN has won year after year the awards for easiest redemption process…they need to keep it that way!

    WN is on the right track for awarding more award points for the business select fares. Extending extra credit to full fare non-business select flights would be a nice perk… WN does have to keep differentiating the business select fare as something worth paying the extra money for.

  7. @ eponymous coward…

    I wasn’t aware the VX didn’t have award redemption with VS. I live in Dallas where my two best options are AA and WN. Just made Platinum for the first time with AA and am already eyeing Spain as an option to redeem miles.

    That’s why I like and stick with AA. They have a network WN can’t match. While I’m surprised VX can’t redeem on VS, it makes more and more sense to me for one maverick airline (WN) to link up with the other (Virgin Group) and offer some kind of world coverage for their FFYs if they’re not planning on going overseas themselves.

    I bought travel on WN last year for the first time in my life. That should tell WN something but if they don’t miss or need me, I’m quite happy where I am as well.

  8. Hey folks, Christi here from Southwest. We regularly conduct surveys to learn more about our Customers. Our goal at the end of the day is to determine what is most important to them. It’s no secret that we use tools such as our Blog, surveys, and Twitter – to help us keep the pulse, and as this recent survey (and others) tell us, we have passionate Customers who share their feedback and help us remain relevant. This survey was just like any of the others we do – we’re gauging Customer feedback to several different options; and in this case, we were studying Rapid Rewards and same day standby.

    Let me know if you have any questions, feedback, or concerns…I’m happy to share!

    Christi Day
    @southwestair

  9. eponymous coward says:

    @ The Traveling Optimist:

    I don’t think WN cares about adding an overseas airline partner for RR redemptions, really. And to be honest, the majority of the American traveling public CAN’T do overseas travel, since most people don’t own a passport. Most Americans are fine redeeming a loyalty reward to go to Vegas or Disneyworld (which WN can get to just fine)- the people on frequent flyer boards who hoard miles to travel in CX F to exotic locales are a tiny sliver of the traveling public.

  10. Oliver says:

    CF wrote:

    Sorry, I must not have been clear. My point was that with the current structure, you know what you’re aiming for. You need 25,000 miles or whatever, and that’s your goal. With these revenue-based redemptions, it’s a moving target so you can’t save up for a specific amount and be assured that it will get you what you want.

    true, but with the 25k mile in your account you don’t necessarily get a seat when you need it either.

    (the same has been true with the current WN RR program).

    My main gripe with WN as an occasional customer is the expiration policy. It actually causes me to fly WN less than I otherwise would because the thought of having the points expire frustrates me.

  11. Nick Aster says:

    I took the survey too and got utterly fatigued by it. Why must Southwest complicate things? One of the principal advantages of Rapid Rewards is its simplicity. Heaping layers of options and mumbo jumbo onto the program just seems like messing with a good things!

  12. John Gillespie says:

    It looks like Southwest is discontinuing the use of the
    southwest rapid rewards credit card to accumulate credits. This is NOT good for rapid rewards passengers. Time to find a different airline with a better program. No need to keep southwest credit card.

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