What Is Southwest Airlines Elite Status Worth? January 2017 | Real World Machine

What Is Southwest Airlines Elite Status Worth? January 2017

The Southwest Rapid Rewards program offers two formal elite tiers: A-List and A-List Preferred. While not technically a tier, you can also think of A-List Preferred + Companion Pass as the third and highest tier in the program. You quality for elite status based on achieving the requisite number of (a) one-way flights (EQDs) or (b) tier qualifying points (TQPs).

Real World Machine values Southwest Rapid Rewards miles at 1.5 cents each, after factoring in the somewhat limited Southwest network, no premium class award options, and the general availability of redemption flight options.





Elite Status Value

Southwest Rapid Rewards Elite Status Value
A-List $680
A-List Preferred $2,662
A-List Preferred with Companion Pass $7,641

You get TQPs at a rate of 6, 10, or 12 points per dollar spent (excluding taxes and most fees) for traveling on Wanna Get Away fares (discount economy), anytime fares (full-ish economy), and business select fares (full-ish economy with a few extra perks), respectively.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card will also net you 1,500 TQPs per each $10,000 you spend on the card, up to 15,000 TQPs per year.

Related: How much are my Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth?

Unlike most other U.S. airlines, Southwest calculates a flight segment as a complete one-way trip, regardless of the number of layovers/connections you make. Hence, a round-trip flight will always net you two flight segments.

Assumptions

Valuations are provided for each elite status level below and assume that (1) you already have the respective elite status for point bonus purposes and (2) that you hit the minimum threshold needed to achieve the status. If necessary, values are rounded up to the nearest dollar. Valuations do not include the regular non-elite-bonus points you earn for Rapid Rewards spending, since you would get these points regardless of your elite status.

As always, elite status valuation can often be more of an art than a science…and certain benefits may be more or less valuable to you than they are to the average passenger.


A-List = $680

This valuation is based on having A-List status and spending $4,000 on Wanna Get Away airfare plus $1,200 on Anytime airfare (before most taxes and fees), resulting in earning 35,000 TQPs. You need to earn (a) 25 one-way segments, or (b) 35,000 TQPs in a given year to achieve A-List Status.

25% Point Bonus = $135
You earn a 25% point bonus on your base points. Valuing Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 9,000 points, worth $135, during your travels.

Priority Phone Number = $45
While not a huge perk, you do get priority call handling for all of your (re)booking needs when you call into customer service, but you’re probably going to utilize the website a lot more than the phone.

Fly By Access (priority check-in and security) = $175
You get some value out of dedicated priority check-in lanes, especially if you are checking bags. Since Southwest also allows everyone at least one free checked bag, the dedicated check-in lanes can cut down on your wait time significantly.

You also get priority security lane access at larger airports, but honestly, you probably already have TSA Precheck.

Overall, there is some modest benefit to be gained from the priority security lanes and a bigger benefit from priority check-in if you check bags. I value this benefit at $175.

Priority Boarding = $275
Given that Southwest does not have assigned seating, priority boarding gives you a big leg up in getting the seat you want on a flight. You should board after Business Select passengers and A-List Preferred members but before all other passengers. Southwest also automatically reserves a boarding position for you 36 hours prior to the flight.

Same-Day Standby = $50
You can standby for free on other same-day flights. You also get priority over non-elite standby passengers. You do, however, remain responsible for paying any difference in fares (unless you booked a Business Select fare).

Return to table.




A-List Preferred = $2,662

This valuation is based on having A-List Preferred status and spending $8,000 on Wanna Get Away airfare plus $2,200 on Anytime airfare (before most taxes and fees), resulting in earning 70,000 TQPs. You need to earn (a) 50 one-way segments, or (b) 70,000 TQPs in a given year to achieve A-List Status.

100% Point Bonus = $1,050
You earn a 100% point bonus on your base points. Valuing Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 70,000 points, worth $1,050, during your travels.

Priority Phone Number = $70
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes marginally more beneficial.

Fly By Access (priority check-in and security) = $350
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes more beneficial.

Priority Boarding = $600
This is the same as the A-List benefit, except that you also get priority over A-List members…only Business Select will board before you. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk also becomes more beneficial.

Same-Day Standby = $80
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes marginally more beneficial.

In-Flight WiFi = $512
You get free in-flight WiFi on all flights for which it is available. A-List and non-elite members pay $8 per day for in-flight WiFi. Assuming 80 days of travel with Southwest and assuming you utilize the WiFi 80% of all of those days, the benefit is worth $512.

Return to table.


A-List Preferred with Companion Pass = $7,641

This valuation is based on having A-List Preferred with Companion Pass status and spending $13,000 on Wanna Get Away airfare plus $3,200 on Anytime airfare (before most taxes and fees), resulting in earning 110,000 TQPs. You need to earn (a) 100 one-way segments, or (b) 110,000 TQPs in a given year to achieve A-List Status.

It is also worth noting that this is technically not a standalone elite level, since all of the benefits are the same as A-List Preferred with the exception of the Companion Pass.

100% Point Bonus = $1,650
This is the same as the A-List Preferred benefit except that you’re flying more. Valuing Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents a piece, you will earn a bonus of 110,000 points, worth $1,050, during your travels.

Companion Pass = $3,840
The companion pass lets you designate someone as your companion and bring that someone along with you for free (you still pay taxes and fees on the companion pass flight). This benefit can be worth thousands upon thousands of dollars.

For valuation purposes, I will assume that you will being a companion with you on 12 round-trip flights (one per month) with a value of $320 for each round-trip flight.

Priority Phone Number = $90
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes marginally more beneficial.

Fly By Access (priority check-in and security) = $425
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes more beneficial.

Priority Boarding = $800
This is the same as the A-List benefit, except that you also get priority over A-List members…only Business Select will board before you. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk also becomes more beneficial.

Same-Day Standby = $100
This is the same as the A-List benefit. Since you’re flying a lot more than an A-List member, the perk becomes marginally more beneficial.

In-Flight WiFi = $736
This is the same as the A-List Preferred benefit except that you’re flying more. Assuming 115 days of travel with Southwest and assuming you utilize the WiFi 80% of all of those days, the benefit is worth $736.

Return to table.



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What Is Southwest Airlines Elite Status Worth? January 2017
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What Is Southwest Airlines Elite Status Worth? January 2017
Description
Learn more about Southwest Rewards elite status with a breakdown and description of elite status benefits and their values.
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Real World Machine LLC
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