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Lohaphaisan, a product manager at mobile-payment company Square in San Francisco, had planned to score all these free flights for her man through the popular Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.
Once you have a Southwest Companion Pass, you can bring a friend (or in her case, a boyfriend) for free on any Southwest flight you book for the rest of the year, aside from about $5 in inescapable taxes and fees.
To get the pass, you either have to earn 125,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year, a tough mission unless you fly Southwest about twice every week.
However, there are other ways to earn the Companion Pass: You can fast-track your way toward those points by signing up for one of Southwest’s credit cards, which gives you thousands of points as a one-time bonus when you hit a minimum spending threshold.
Lohaphaisan signed up and earned her Companion Pass through a combination of credit card spending, the sign-up offer, and flying with Southwest. She was ready to start cashing in on complimentary flights for her boyfriend, and the possibilities were endless.
But love, unfortunately, was not. She and her boyfriend broke up.
“And that’s the reason why I’m not that happy about the Companion Pass anymore,” Lohaphaisan said.
Lohaphaisan is hardly alone in the swift dashing of her credit card rewards dreams. Credit card rewards are enticing. They give you cash back on purchases you would have made anyway, a seat upgrade on a flight you’ve already booked, or a night in a hotel as part of a vacation you’ve already planned.
But personal finance experts have found that the quest to maximize credit card rewards can leave customers spending more than they intended—and not just in cash. In Lohaphaisan’s case, she shelled out to score a reward that she hoped would greatly improve her and her boyfriend’s quality of life, until suddenly their lives were no longer shared and she had no companion to shower with her Companion Pass.
But Lohaphaisan wasn’t going to give up.
Instead she sent a message (subject line: “Want my Southwest Companion Pass?”) to Square’s internal employee email list, along with details indicating that she would primarily fly between San Francisco and Burbank, with room for other sporadic trips. She made it clear that she and her companion would split the costs fifty-fifty, granting both parties half off their flight costs.
Within a day, 17 people responded.
“I was so overwhelmed by the responses that it started to become distracting,” she said.
Hopeful applicants sent detailed calendars filled with siblings’ graduations, weddings, and parents’ birthdays, indicating when they planned to travel to Burbank. Others had no ties to Burbank but simply wanted in on the alluring offer of half-price flights with a stranger.
“By the end of the day, I had to send a follow-up telling people to stop emailing me because I had way too many applicants already,” she said, adding that she didn’t even have time to answer all 17 people. “I got too exhausted.”
Source: NY Times – Wirecutter
Keyword: When Romance Ruins Your Southwest Companion Pass Master Plan