The Death of Southwest Companion Pass Hotel Transfers
The other day Southwest changed the rules regarding hotels transfers counting towards the Companion Pass. Basically, they used to count and now they don’t. It is a big negative change and one that affects many people including myself. It is also a change that came with absolutely no notice which is not the sort of behavior that I believe companies should engage in.
When I covered this news the other day several people commented on my post about how “bloggers” killed the Companion Pass. Of course I have shared my thoughts on the “You Bloggers” groupthink before, but it got me thinking. What actually killed this deal?
Obviously I am a blogger and perhaps I have a bias, but I think it is silly to blame bloggers for this one. Instead I blame you and I blame me. I’ll explain that in a minute, but first let’s look at a little history. You see, the Companion Pass is one of those deals that has been around a long time. For years and years every new blog that has come has had a primer on how to get a Companion Pass.
It is one of those low hanging fruit deals that is both easy to write about and fun to share with family and friends. And so it has been written about by blogs big and small for years and years and years and it didn’t die. So what changed?
Well, I think two things did. First, there are so many more people trying to take advantage of travel rewards than there were before. Some will blame blogs and bloggers for spreading the info and perhaps they have a point, but the reality is the internet is here. Information spreads one way or the other.
But the big changes came from Chase. Prior to this past year I doubt very many people decided to transfer hotel points to get a Companion Pass. Yes, some people did but many more people opted instead for the much easier option of getting two co-branded Chase credit cards. But then the rules changed and something called 5/24 came.
Suddenly many people who previously could get the Southwest cards were no longer eligible. Those people who had been hooked on that B1G1 magic needed another way. Marriott’s travel packages actually looked decent. For 270,000 points you could get 120,000 Southwest points, a Companion Pass and a 7 night stay at a category 1-5 Marriott. But who has 270,000 Marriott points laying around?
The answer was only a few people. Sure you could transfer Ultimate Rewards to Marriott at 1:1, but that is a TERRIBLE value. So things continued and my guess is not that many people had enough hotel points to make a dent. Then, the last key to the puzzle happened. Marriott bought Starwood and implemented transfers between SPG and Marriott Rewards. Suddenly 90K Starpoints equaled 7 nights in a Marriott, 120,000 Southwest points and a Companion Pass!
Yes, a few blogs covered this option when it became available, but I don’t believe it has been beat to death. The truth is that the combination of a market inefficient deal and a lot of people wanting to take advantage of it killed this deal. The bloggers didn’t.
Southwest was smart in ending points transfers from hotel programs on January 1. Some analyst in a room somewhere must have calculated how many of us were waiting to get a Companion Pass on January 1 in order to get two years of B1G1 flights. They should have told us ahead of time but knew also that we would all jump on the deal. So it quietly went away.
Was Southwest wrong in not letting us know? I think so. Did bloggers kill this deal? No, people did. There are just too many “travel hackers”. Good deals die quickly now and that is something we need to accept as a community.
Of course I didn’t write this to preach, so I would love to hear you opinions in the comments! What do you think killed this deal? Am I way off in my analysis? Did I miss something? Share your thoughts, but please be respectful of other commenters.