DALLAS (PRWEB) August 10, 2005
Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) today announced changes to its Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. Effective today, the carrier will allow Members 24 months (instead of the current 12 months) to earn credits toward free travel. As of Feb. 10, 2006, the carrier will remove systemwide blackout dates and implement seat restrictions for Award travel.
"The Rapid Rewards program is a generous and simple vehicle for our loyal Customers to earn free travel," said Joyce Rogge, Senior Vice President of Marketing. "Customers have been asking for more time to earn Award Travel, and we are excited to make this change, which will give more Customers the opportunity to take advantage of the Rapid Rewards program's benefits and fly for free."
Southwest's extensive research and Rapid Rewards Member polling revealed that the most desirable changes flyers wanted were more time to earn credits and no systemwide blackout dates for Award travel.
For information on the program changes, go to http://www.southwest.com/jp/rapid_rewards.shtml?src=PR_RR_081005 .
Members' existing credits immediately will be extended for an additional 12 months, giving current Members two years to earn free travel on Southwest. For Awards issued Feb. 10, 2006, or after, seat restrictions will apply. Systemwide blackout dates also will be removed, but certain holiday or peak travel periods will be in high demand and may be difficult times to redeem Award travel. Unexpired Awards issued before Feb. 10, 2006, are unrestricted, even if redeemed after that date. Awards will continue to be valid for travel 12 months from the date of issue.
In the Company's ongoing effort to keep the program simple and easy to use, Southwest is exploring ways to provide an Award "seat finder" on its web site to help Members more conveniently locate dates and flights when Award seats will be available.
In 2003 and 2004, more than five million Awards were redeemed in Southwest's Rapid Rewards program, and that is among the highest redemption rates in the airline industry.
"We continue to look for ways to keep the program flexible and easy because we want our Customers to earn Awards they can actually use," Rogge said. "The program's ease - eight roundtrips equals an Award - has contributed to its growth and popularity, meaning a high number of Awards are being redeemed."
At the Companion Pass level of the Rapid Rewards program, Members earning 100 credits or more in a 12-month period will still receive the benefit of naming a companion to travel free with them for one year.
Rapid Rewards Award travel is free, but it is subject to the U.S. government-imposed September 11th security fee of up to $10 roundtrip.
Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards program was honored in InsideFlyer magazine's 2005 annual Freddie Awards for best Customer Service, best bonus promotion, and best award redemption. It is widely recognized by users and industry watchers as the simplest and most lucrative frequent flyer program in the airline industry. Southwest is the nation's largest carrier in terms of domestic Customers boarded. More than 31,000 employees systemwide provide more than 3,000 daily departures to 60 cities with a fleet of more than 436 Boeing 737s.
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