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As promised, Southwest Rapid Rewards has rolled out their new Rapid Rewards award pricing system today. Details on exactly what the new award prices would look like were a bit light from Southwest in advance of the changes, but now reports are starting to come in from those who have been pricing awards via the new more variable priced award model.
Previously “Wanna Get Away” fares costs a flat 70 points per dollar for the base fare, but now that amount can vary base on “based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors“. Southwest has said most awards stay the same price as they were before, but until today there was no way to begin testing that statement (and of course with variable prices that can change at any time).
A good resource thus far is this thread in Flyertalk which shows that some test searches people have done that indicate the price has indeed stayed at 70 points per dollar, and at other times has gone up to around 80 points per dollar. It is worth mentioning that the busy holiday travel season is not yet loaded into the Southwest calendar, so we don’t know yet if those flights will stay in the 70 – 80 points per dollar range that has been found so far, or if they will go beyond that threshold.
I did a couple of my own tests and found on a Friday in early summer that a flight from Houston – Aruba (via Orlando) priced at 76 points per dollar. A Memorial Day weekend Friday flight from Houston – Las Vegas was also 76 points per dollar. Using that same Friday of Memorial Day weekend Houston – Orlando came in at 74 points per dollar and Austin – Cancun 70 points per dollar. I purposefully was picking travel days that I thought might be more popular, so I’m not surprised that most of my flights were not at the old 70 points per dollar rate.
To find out the points per dollar cost you have to get the base fare (without all the taxes/fees as shown below) and then take the total number of points required divided by that base fare.
As an example, here is a July 5th nonstop flight from Orlando to Houston that prices at $331 one-way. If you click on “fare breakdown” you see that the base fare is $294.79. Yesterday that flight would have cost a flat 70 points per base dollar for a total of about 20,635 points, but today with variable pricing it costs 22,994 points at a ratio of 78 points per dollar. Either way that flight doesn’t strike me as a great deal on points or dollars, but it is a good example of a Southwest award that costs more today than yesterday.
I’m glad to see that thus far we are talking about flights that cost no more than around 12% more points today than yesterday, but it is anyone’s guess as to whether that stays constant, or whether that difference increases over time.
Have you found some Southwest award flights pricing differently today than yesterday?