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Southwest A-List status: What it is and how to earn it

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Southwest Airlines is, for better and for worse, one of a kind. It’s generally thought of as a budget airline, known for its open seating and free checked bags — and people tend to either love or hate it.

When it comes to elite status with Southwest, there aren’t the same perks available for loyal members that many other airlines offer. For instance, most airline elite status programs include free checked bags and a chance at complimentary seat upgrades. However, Southwest already offers free checked bags for all passengers and doesn’t offer business- or first-class seating options; therefore, you won’t find these on the perks list for Southwest’s elite status tiers.

Still, Southwest does offer some perks to its loyal passengers. Here’s what you need to know about A-List, A-List Preferred and the Companion Pass to decide whether they’re worth going after.

What is Southwest A-List status?

Southwest uses the term “A-List” when referring to its Rapid Rewards customers with elite status. The program has two status tiers: A-List and A-List Preferred.

And while it isn’t technically an elite status tier, the airline also has the ultravaluable Companion Pass. This benefit allows you to bring a designated companion with you for free (plus applicable taxes and fees) on an unlimited number of Southwest Airlines flights for the duration of the pass.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 in the sky over Los Angeles

Related: The complete guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards

How to qualify for Southwest elite status

Southwest has made it easier to earn A-List and A-List Preferred in 2024. Here’s how to qualify for each level:

  • A-List: 20 one-way qualifying flight segments or 35,000 tier qualifying points
  • A-List Preferred: 40 one-way qualifying flight segments or 70,000 tier qualifying points
  • Companion Pass: 100 one-way qualifying flights or 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points

You can earn A-List and A-List Preferred status by completing the required number of qualifying flight segments or by earning tier qualifying points. The latter can be earned on flights or via spending on select cobranded Southwest credit cards.


To qualify for the Companion Pass, you can complete 100 one-way qualifying flights in a calendar year, which are counted identically as those for earning status. Once you hit 70, you’d reach A-List Preferred — and then hitting 100 earns you the Companion Pass.

However, you can also achieve it by earning Companion Pass qualifying points, which includes a wider range of activities than those that earn TQPs. You can view full details of what does (and doesn’t) count toward these tiers on Southwest’s website, but they include welcome bonuses on Southwest credit cards, purchases through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal, and hotel stays and rental cars booked with Southwest partners.

Note that transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards and purchased points don’t count toward any qualification.

Additionally, Southwest sometimes runs promotions that allow you to fast-track elite status or hold it for a shorter period of time — like last fall’s promotion to earn a two-month Companion Pass after a single qualifying flight.

Related: Why I choose Southwest Airlines every time

Southwest status benefits

For many, Southwest’s open seating policy is one of its biggest benefits. However, the seating is first come, first served, so you’ll be more likely to get the seat you want if you have an early boarding position. To get a good boarding position, you’ll need to check in as early as possible (24 hours before your flight). You can also skip this stress by paying for EarlyBird Check-In for an upgraded boarding position.

Or, if you have elite status, you’ll get automatic early check-in as part of your status benefits.

Southwest check-in area at LGA

Additionally, both status tiers earn more Rapid Rewards points on paid Southwest Airlines flights. Typically, you’ll earn between 6 and 12 points per dollar, depending on the type of fare you purchase. But with A-List and A-List Preferred, you’ll earn even more points on those flights.

Here’s a breakdown of the key perks you’ll receive with each tier of Southwest elite status.


A-List is the lower status tier and the easier one to earn. With it, you’ll get these benefits:

  • Priority boarding
  • 25% earning bonus
  • Free same-day change (taxes and fees may apply) and priority same-day standby
  • Priority Lane and Express Lane at Southwest check-in
  • Dedicated A-List member phone line

A-List Preferred

A-List Preferred is the highest tier of elite status. With it, you’ll get elevated earning rates and additional perks:

  • Free inflight Wi-Fi
  • Up to two complimentary premium drinks (on flights of 176 miles or more)
  • Priority boarding (boarding position automatically reserved 36 hours before flight)
  • 100% earning bonus
  • Free same-day standby and same-day change (taxes and fees may apply)

Companion Pass

The Companion Pass isn’t inherently an elite status tier and doesn’t come with its own set of benefits outside of the free designated companion you can add to your Southwest Airlines flight reservations for just the cost of taxes and fees. However, if you earn it through flying, you’ll automatically earn A-List Preferred status on your way to earning the Companion Pass and will get all of those benefits on top of your Companion Pass.

Related: How to earn and use the Southwest Companion Pass

Can a credit card help earn Southwest status?

Southwest has three personal and two business credit cards. None of them come with automatic status, but two of the personal cards and both business cards give you the option to spend your way to status. Plus, all five cobranded cards allow you to earn a Companion Pass through spending.


The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card earn 1,500 TQPs toward A-List status for every $5,000 spent annually.

However, you’ll need to spend twice as much on a business card to earn A-List status. The Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card each earn 1,500 TQPs for every $10,000 spent annually.

If you’re going after a Companion Pass, any of the cobranded credit cards can help you get there. All the Rapid Rewards points you earn through your Southwest credit card spending (including the welcome bonus) will count toward the 135,000 points you need to earn a Companion Pass. Plus, you’ll get a 10,000-point boost toward earning the Companion Pass each year, just for being a Southwest cardholder.

Related: Current Southwest credit card welcome offers

Is Southwest status worth it?

Since all passengers get two free checked bags and there’s no business class to be upgraded to, Southwest’s status has less obvious value than elite status with most other airlines.

Additionally, Southwest added the perk of free same-day standby for all fare types in 2023, and three of the four fare types include free same-day changes, so these perks probably aren’t worth chasing status for.

However, A-List status could be worth it for someone who pays for EarlyBird Check-In or upgraded boardings on every flight, since these range from $15 to $30 per one-way flight. And those who pay for Wi-Fi ($8 per flight) and premium drinks (up to $9 per drink) may really see value in A-List Preferred status.

airplane seats

Still, you can get some A-List benefits just by holding a cobranded credit card. The Southwest Performance Business card, for example, comes with 365 inflight Wi-Fi credits and four upgraded boardings per year.

The Companion Pass, on the other hand, can provide tremendous value to someone who flies Southwest regularly with a partner or family. The ability to add a companion for just the cost of taxes and fees will effectively cut the cost of the flight in half for both people, which can provide lucrative savings to those who can take advantage of it. Still, those who typically travel alone will likely get very little value from the Companion Pass and not find it worth going after.

Bottom line

Southwest Airlines A-List and A-List Preferred status don’t offer as much additional value as elite status on other airlines, since passengers already get free checked bags and don’t have hope of snagging a seat upgrade. Still, those who fly Southwest Airlines regularly enough to earn status organically will appreciate the automatic check-in and bonus points they’ll earn with either status. And if you’re someone who travels regularly with a partner, you’ll likely get tremendous value from earning a Companion Pass.

Be sure to check out our guides to other airline loyalty programs for a full breakdown of their elite benefits: