Southwest Revamps Frequent Flyer Program

Southwest has changed its Rapid Rewards program, placing capacity restrictions on seats for the first time.  On a positive note, you can now take two years (instead of one) to earn credits.

This is a massive and unfortunate change—Southwest was the only carrier to offer free seats with no capacity controls (ie, if a seat was available, you could have it).  Its press release notes that there are no blackout dates, but that is a canard—if they make no seats available, then it is effectively a blackout date.

The company is spinning this as a great change for travelers (what else are they going to say?), but it’s a shame that one of the last great perks it going away.  Alas poor Rapid Rewards, we hardly knew ye.


  1. Can anyone explain to me why I should care about frequent flier miles? Southwest was never my bag – I refuse to fly them even if the seats are free. But airlines put so many restrictions on how you can use FF miles that they’re basically worthless. Heck, I can’t even use the upgrade certificates Continental sent me for treating me miserably in the past because they put restrictions on those!

    As soon as JetBlue flies out of Newark beyond Florida, that’ll be my airline. And if someone offers reasonably priced upgrades to seats with a bit more pitch and an inch or two extra width, I’ll fly them, instead.