I’m Switching to Alaska and Southwest (With Companion Pass) Next Week

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American who? Delta what? Beginning 2017, I’m exclusively flying and crediting everything to Alaska or Southwest.

If I have to fly American, that’ll be credited to Alaska. Thanks to Alaska’s merger with Virgin America, I might not see the inside of DFW much next year. DAL is gonna become my new jam – and it’s only 10 minutes up the street.

Switching to Alaska and Southwest

I’ll be at DAL a lot more than DFW in 2017

I’m also going to transfer 90,000 Starwood points to Marriott to get:

I easily value that at least $5,000.

Bring on the Alaska and Southwest “Love”

Virgin America

I for one have been looking forward to the Alaska-Virgin America merger for a long time.

Thanks, aviation gods

Thanks, aviation gods

Because Virgin America has a hub at DAL, which means I can get more places without the help of American or Delta. Which is awesome because Alaska Mileage Plan is the last remaining good mileage-based program.

I currently have 3 companion fares and at $50 flight voucher I need to use. And don’t want those to go to waste.

Southwest

I have also been deliberating whether or not to get the Southwest Companion Pass via 90,000 Starwood points.

Package 3 is where it's at

Package 3 is where it’s at

Because 90,000 Starwood points are worth a lot. But so is the Companion Pass. It’ll be good for the remainder of 2017 and all of 2018 – nearly 2 full years of flying free with a mate. That’s incredible if you put it to frequent use.

120,000 Southwest points are worth at least $1,716 toward Southwest flights. But if I bring someone along, that doubles to $3,432 in paid airfare saved out-of-pocket.

It’s reasonable to value 7 free nights at Marriott Category 5 hotels at $1,000 (at $143 per night). But I’m gonna round right up and call it $5,000 because the Companion Pass is good through the end of 2018.

And 120,000 Southwest points alone are good for nearly 6 free round-trip flights at a cost of $300 each – with a companion for the cost of taxes and fees – which is incredible.

90,000 Starwood points can be worth much more in hotel award stays, or a First Class international flight. It’s going to sting to lose that many in one fell swoop.

But I feel like the lasting value of the Companion Pass, spread out over 2 years, will ultimately be worth much more than a few nights in a hotel, or a couple of flights.

After much back and forth, I’ll pull the trigger on January 3rd and make the required transfers and calls. Plus, I’ll still have some Starwood points left over because I got both credit cards earlier this year. And rocked an awesome Plastiq promotion for 3X Starwood points.

Putting them together

Simply, I’ll still shop based on price and schedule. But I’ll factor in whether or not I want to bring someone along. And decide between Alaska or Southwest case-by-case.

If American is unavoidable because they have the best price or route, I’ll credit the flights to Alaska. And try to avoid Delta altogether.

as

Airlines hubbed at DAL

Because Alaska and Southwest have plenty of non-stop flights from DAL, so between the two, I should be covered.

I’m thrilled about this arrangement because DAL is so close to me. I’ll think nothing of taking a quick weekend trip. The psychological freedom of having all those points in the mileage bank and earning status with a program I like is invaluable – it’s actually worth a lot more than I anticipated. That feeling alone is worth it.

It also seems good to split the difference between 2 programs so all my eggs aren’t in one (airline) basket. Because Alaska could change their tune (although I oddly trust them). And Southwest could devalue their points or program without warning (which they’ve done before). So this seems like the best hedge, all things considered.

Bottom line

I’m thrilled about the Alaska-Virgin America merger. It really opens Dallas up to the Alaska Mileage Plan program in a way that wasn’t as accessible before.

And I’m finally going to jump on the Southwest bandwagon with two feet first – Companion Pass and all.

Airline loyalty these days is a weird topic that requires many mental leaps and connections. But the arrangement of sticking to Alaska or Southwest for all things flight-related seems to be the simplest solution. And I love the Mileage Plan program! Alaska miles are extremely valuable and versatile. I’m already eyeing a trip South Africa in Cathay Pacific First and Business, with a stopover in Hong Kong for next year.

I’m also just done being on the American/Delta treadmill. It’s tiring keeping up with all the requirements. #goodbyetoallthat

Could you replicate this arrangement? Sure, Alaska and Southwest have prominence in many cities.

Unless you are extremely hub captive (ATL, SLC, or a small regional airport [like CMH]), it might be worth ditching American, Delta, United, and their revenue-based requirements for a year or two. Of course, this isn’t always possible because of price, schedules, connections, etc. But it looks like I’m striking out in Dallas – another reason I’m so glad I moved here!

Are you assessing your loyalty choices this week? Will you make a move to another airline in 2017? I’d love hear about which one and why!

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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  1. I’ve never been to DFW, but I flew into DAL on VX and DAL looks good for a smaller airport, nice and clean. Going through security was smooth. Got a preflight meal at Whataburger. Loved it.

  2. I’m not playing the loyalty/status game, but I’m prioritizing United/Star Alliance miles collection as well as Alaska Miles. That should cover me for wherever in the world I’d want to go

    • I hear you. Having a stash of UR points is the way to go, I think. Then you can access United/Star Alliance, British Airways, Flying Blue, and Singapore – between those 4, you should be well covered.

      And of course Alaska miles are just a fantastic addition and handy to collect those too.

      I won’t go out of my way to earn any type of status in 2017, but if it happens as a natural by-product, that’s cool. Award flights are the way to go!

  3. I live in Austin, also thinking about switching to Alaska from AA. Besides flying AS, how do you credit AA miles to AS, what’s the best way to do that? can you call AA after a flight?

    • Oh, it’s easy. When you book an AA flight, just select AS from the dropdown menu and add your AS number.

      If you forget to, I believe you can call Alaska, not American, to get flight credit after the fact.

      I’m excited about switching to AS! As a fellow Texan, I’d say definitely look into Mileage Plan and consider it for 2017.

  4. I have the SW Companion Pass for the next year. Living in San Antonio, UA has been our go-to in the last year, mostly because 1. they have the SAT-IAH route all to themselves (flying into Hobby isn’t an option if we’re connecting with international flights in Houston), and 2. they have, again, the SAT-SFO direct route (the “nerd bird”) locked up too. I’m looking at this Alaska-VA thing with some interest. I’m not interested in the Big Three’s race to the bottom.

    • Definitely! I’m getting out of the race to the bottom altogether.

      It’s tougher on hub captive routes like you described. But Alaska and Southwest can fill in some of the gaps. I intend to make it fill ALL of them when possible. Even if it means a connection here and there.

  5. We are on our second Companion Pass and I love SW! And DAL for that matter! Sure there’s not a Centurion Lounge like at DFW, but DAL is so efficient and fast that you can get there 45 minutes before a flight and be fine! Plus there’s a Cru Wine Bar, Cantina Laredo, even a La Madeleine if you so please! There are interesting art and photography installations too! Honestly, I think DAL is my fave airport because it’s tiny, fast, efficient, and easy, with a hint of luxury. Can’t wait to hear where all you are heading with the CP!

    • Looks like, effective immediately, hotel transfers no longer count toward the CP.

      Oh well, guess I have 90K SPG points to burn. And will focus on Alaska instead.

      Probably won’t have nearly as many adventures on Southwest (or be at DAL as much) in 2017. :/

      But glad to hear they have a good thing going there! Kinda bummed now, though.

  6. Check your destination ideas on Southwest from time to time. Even without the SW CP I have booked flights on SW for as little as 2500ish points each way before. Not always an advertised sale.

    • I always do! They fly non-stop to Memphis, and I’ve seen it for $84 each way, which is a pretty good deal.

      Always good to keep this in mind, though – thank you for the reminder!

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