Use Southwest Points to Fly Internationally: Flights Started Today!

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Today’s the day that Southwest takes the Companion Pass and their easy to earn and use Rapid Reward points international!  Of course their sorta other half, AirTran was already flying internationally, but having Southwest operate the routes and eventually expand the list of destinations is great for Southwest points holders and Companion Pass junkies!

To celebrate the occasion of the very first scheduled Southwest international flight this morning from Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) to Aruba, the Southwest Blog shares that there was traditional steel drum music, tropical smoothies, festive decor, and special beach balls and snorkel gear for the inaugural international passengers!  What could be better than an almost free flight on points?  An almost free flight on points + a commemorative beach ball with a tropical smoothie, of course.

The six routes kicking off today are BWI – Aruba, BWI – Montego Bay, Atlanta – Aruba, Atlanta – Montego Bay, BWI – Bahamas, and Orlando – Montego Bay.  Their Saturday service from Orlando – Montego Bay starts this coming Saturday.  The international footprint will continue to grow from there with more routes coming in August, and in the following years.  My own hometown airport, Houston Hobby, should get some nonstop Southwest international flights in the next year or two.  The Today in the Sky column is a good read if you are interested in the direction of Southwest international travel!

Radisson Aruba

Use Southwest points + Club Carlson points to get to Radisson Resort in Aruba!

To give a quick example of how to use Southwest points to fly internationally, if I wanted to hop down from Houston to Montego Bay (via Atlanta) for a long weekend in August, I could do so using just 22,400 Southwest points + about $100 in taxes/fees.  That same trip on most traditional US carriers would cost about 35,000 miles + taxes/fees, but in this case it is lower via Southwest as their points have a fixed value.  This means that when the cash price is relatively low, the points price will be relatively low, too.  Remember that Southwest does not charge bag fees, has “open” seating, has no “blackout dates”, and there is no charge to redeposit or reprice a trip on points.  All of those points can tip the scales in favor of Southwest for family travelers.  Of course if you had the Companion Pass then two people can fly round trip on that example for 22,400 points + taxes/fees for both seats.  That is just incredible.

If you are interested in learning a little more about earning and using Southwest points (and the Companion Pass) to fly with your family to some of the popular Caribbean international destinations, check out this post.

I know I will be watching Southwest’s international expansion, especially from Hobby, closely!  Are you planning to use some Southwest points to fly internationally?!

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  1. As a Houston-based companion pass holder, I cant wait for the international terminal at Hobby to open! Will be hopping down to Aruba or the Bahamas for many weekends for sure! 🙂

  2. YES!
    Already have flights booked Atlanta to Aruba in December with companion pass.
    It’s the only way to fly.

  3. I’m looking at flights out of DEN but can’t make a reservation to any of the Caribbean locations. Why is that so?

  4. Southwest is not allowing any connecting flights right now. MPs assertion that she can book a Houston flight to Aruba via Atlanta is not 100% accurate. You can however book a flight Houston to Atlanta AND book a flight Atlanta to Aruba. BUT they are separate tickets. And upon landing in Atlanta you will have to exit security, collect your bags, then re-check-in. SW suggests a minimum of 3 hours in between flights (upon booking these TWO tickets SW will eventually send you an email explaining this). I’ve already booked a TPA to CUN via ATL flight for August. SW likes to keep their (domestic)layovers short, so it will be interesting to see how they operate connections on an international itinerary.

    • Ben, you can book one ticket from Houston-Atlanta-Montego for the dates I looked at starting August 5. You can’t do it for flights right now in July. Are you saying even if you book one flight as per the website they split it into two? That would be weird, but it is correct I can’t book one ticket Houston-Atlanta-Montego Bay for July.

      • That’s interesting. In my particular case (going from Tampa to Cancun via Atlanta in August), it is only possible to book it as TPA to ATL and ATL to CUN (2 seperate itineraries). Perhaps this is only specific to certain routes/certain dates?

  5. And no, I did not mean that SW automatically split my reservation in two. I mean that I was unable to even book a TPA-CUN itinerary, I HAD to book it as TPA-ATL & ATL-CUN.

    • Ben, good! That would make no sense, so glad that isn’t what you meant. I think it is a route/date issue. I’m not familiar with the routes in Tampa, but like I mentioned for Houston August will bring more options than July. I think it is just all going to take a little time to ripple through the system.

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