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In the email that Southwest Rapid Rewards sent out today to their members, there is a link under “News For Our Valued Members” that takes you to what I assume is bad news for the Rapid Rewards program. The update says (bolding mine):
We created Rapid Rewards® because we think you deserve to actually feel rewarded. And, from time to time we must make some updates to our program. Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares.
I have reached out to Southwest to try and see what this new Rapid Rewards system will look like, but for now we don’t know the details. I am pretty sure this doesn’t mean awards are getting cheaper….
Remember that Rapid Rewards just devalued their mostly fixed value program about a year ago by 15% for Wanna Get Away fares (from about 1.67 cents per point to 1.42 cents per point), so I’m a bit surprised they are already doing it again unless this primarily has to do with their international flights that have come online in the last year or so. The last time they made a change they gave six months notice and outlined exact details of the change ahead of time.
The message from today goes on to emphasize that they still offer unlimited reward seats, no blackout dates, no fee to redeem or cancel awards, etc. That’s all well and good, really, but a variable rate redemption system combined with fixed-ish value points doesn’t sound like a good change for us. At least the email doesn’t mention Companion Pass changes…
I’ll keep you posted when I learn more, but I would book any Southwest awards that you have had your eyes on before April 17th, especially since you can re-price them if the points price drops anyway.