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Strategizing for 2017 SW Companion Pass using Marriot Travel Packages

Discussion in 'Southwest Airlines' started by heavenlyjane, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. Cmonman76

    Cmonman76 Level 2 Member

    Yeah, Southwest doesn't do Hawaii but we mainly use SW for quick trips to Florida and wouldn't have used those miles as part of the Marriott stay. I have 4 nights in San Juan in april, I could cancel the Hyatt Place stay and switch to the Courtyard there just to use it and save some Hyatt points. Planning Europe over thanksgiving but probably 3 nights each in London and Paris and we may have to AirBnB with a family of 5. Decisions decisions.
     
  2. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    I see, Hawaii would be just to use the hotel cert. That would work.
     
  3. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    I wanted to make some observations about SW and figure this thread may not get much more attention, I'll put them here as this is where I personally started looking at SW seriously (have yet to fly SW, but have a firm trip to DEN in early August).

    I had made my first booking on SW for last weekend (Memorial Day holiday). I made it a month before and had forgotten about my new step-grandson being due 2 days before. I had to cancel the trip, and SW made this very painless. Excellent! I may have lost the taxes I paid ($11.20 x 2) but all of my points went back to my account. The baby arrived on Friday and is healthy and all are happy.

    With this pain-free cancellation in mind, I'm going to do a speculative booking to Belize in Jan. But this brings up a pain-point.

    From CLE on SW, Belize is a 10 hour adventure available only on Saturdays (CLE->ORD->DEN->BZE). At least looking at the current schedule. Not really attractive. However, we typically attend a large coin show in FL in January, this year in Tampa. Belize from some places in FL is quite reasonable, although the only practical option for us is not really ideal. On some days it's a 7k and 2:20 trip NS. The day we need it it is 26k and 7:00 w/stop in Houston. It becomes very reasonable if we could get to Fort Lauderdale by Sunday (7k and 2:20), and that's possible, but at a cost that about evens it out. If I stay in Tampa another day it gets cheap/short again (assuming, based on previous Mondays ... but the schedule doesn't go that far yet). But then I'm altering my ideal day plan to fit a flight schedule.

    I'm bummed that SW doesn't allow creative routing or stop-overs. Sure, I can schedule them as multiple one ways at extra cost ... but even trying to fly Tampa to FLL is a many hours trip ... they don't have a direct non-stop. I'm trying to find creative ways to save 19k miles (and 2 hours), and it's just the cheapskate in me. I'm booking the 26k flight for now, holding out for a creative solution in the coming months. (I found a $110 flight elsewhere TPA->FLL, but is it worth it? Renting a one-way car is a costly and requires 3:45 driving).

    I will also mention that I'm looking at flying to Belize on 1/7. This happens to be the last day of their current schedule, so who knows how we'll get home. Trying prototype dates for Belize->CLE shows issues with availability, prices and/or elapsed times. It looks like I'm better off flying back to FL on one ticket, then to CLE on a separately scheduled flight. Again, at the cost of 2 trips. If I can route like this, why can't SW? In the end I'll have to wait for the schedule to be extended, then I can see what I have.

    I'm not opposed to using other carriers for positioning flights, but that sort of defeats the purpose of having a SW CP. Or at least dilutes it a bit.

    I think that's all I have to vent for now. Thanks.

    (Edit: I fixed the time for TPA->BZE on the day we need to read 7 hours. I had it 4:25 before, and that's the time for a different day. 7 hours is what bothers me - 2 hour layover in Houston).
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2017
  4. Cmonman76

    Cmonman76 Level 2 Member

    Hey Knick, you can save those taxes from a cancelled flight and use on another booking. It's linked to the confirm #.

    As far as your other question, that is why I still occasionally use Delta or American even though we also have the companion pass. For some cities Southwest just doesn't work well. Other cities it's great. I also tend to move my schedule around to match the cheapest flights
     
  5. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    So I did snag a flight from Tampa to Belize on the very last day of the current schedule. 26k (relatively expensive) and 7 hours over 2 flights and a 2 hour layover. I will check for better options when the schedule extends again.

    Oddly, I couldn't add my companion online. Kept telling me that the date I specified wasn't valid. I was worried that my award ticket was the last seat! Calling in, the CSR was able to add her but there was a bit of trouble applying the airline tax credit from my canceled flight (thanks for mentioning that, I might have never realized I could do this - now I know how).

    Looks like I need to create yet-another spreadsheet (or Evernote ... it won't get too complex) to track canceled confirmation numbers and the travel funds remaining on each!
     
  6. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    If you're paying the taxes with credit card and cancel a flight, there is the option to credit the card. That's what I do.
     
  7. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Missed that when I canceled. I'll look next time, but hopefully I don't have to cancel too often!
     
  8. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    It defaults to hold for future flights. I have to remind myself each time to change it.
     
  9. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    While this SW-newbie has folks' attention ... I've also yet to check in 24 hours ahead of time and reserve my seats. Tips?

    Somewhere I saw that flyers with companions might have priority? No? Is it the rule that exactly 24 hours before the departure time I have to get seat assignments quickly? Does anyone have an online reference or article outlining a seat strategy? And in what order do they board ... seat numbers or earlier check-ins?

    My SW First Flight isn't until the beginning of August now. 2 months, but I want to get it right first time!

    (Update: It actually behooves us to find someplace to go in June or July with the CP ... a long weekend, as we have 2 hotel certs that will expire at the end of that timeframe. And I don't want to lose those w/out a fight ... or flight :)).
     
  10. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    You and your companion have to check in separately. No guarantee that you will board together. Board in order of check in - no seat assignments. I usually set an alarm on my phone as a reminder. Set up phone for one check in and computer for other and try to check in at same time. I saw somewhere that someone had developed a program for checking in, but I've not used it.

    And there's always the option of buying one early bird and have them save you a seat . . . ;)

    Early bird is by order that you purchased it - so the sooner the better if you decide to go that route. However, if you have to cancel flight I don't believe early bird is refundable. Not absolutely sure on that.
     
  11. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    And it goes A listers and preferred, A1-60, family with small children, B1-60, C1-60.
     
  12. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Haven't read this thread, but I thought I'd throw out that the SW cards now show 60k. I can't remember if signups count toward CP or not, I got mine through Marriott after the deval email / reinstatement they did in Jan.
     
  13. AnyNameYouWish

    AnyNameYouWish Level 2 Member

    Also Knick-If my plans aren't flexible and the SW flight costs more points than I'm happy with, I just check online every day to see if they have gone down in price yet. Every single time I have been able to cancel my reservation and rebook using less points, and this is for a family of 4. One time my final points paid for each ticket ended up being less than 1/3 of what I originally booked the flight with. I rescheduled that one 3 times.
     
  14. AnyNameYouWish

    AnyNameYouWish Level 2 Member

    Sign up bonuses do count.
     
  15. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    I knew to watch for their occasional sales and rebook if lower then, but there prices might fluctuate even on a daily basis? I'll keep a watch. Thanks.
     
  16. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Nice, thanks for confirming. I haven't cared since we're both way over 5/24 haha
     
  17. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Ok, guys. My FIRST SW flight is tomorrow at 6:10pm. Which means I get to check in myself and my wife on different confirmation numbers as close to 6:10 as I can. This is a 1:15 flight each way, so it's the perfect one to try our luck with the 24 hour before rule.

    But I've never done this before and want to be prepared. I've gathered some tips from previous posts, but still unclear on a few things ...

    If I open up each flight confirmation page ... is that where CHECK IN appears on or after 6:10? I'm going to flash back to the old manual ebay snipe days!

    BTW, my original 120k is down to 18-19k. So I've been busy planning. At least as far ahead as the SW schedule will let me. I have 52k of UR points above my save threshold AND $600 in SW GCs. We'll see how long these keep me busy.

    TIA.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  18. Patrickthetiger

    Patrickthetiger Level 2 Member

    Remember that you can re-book your trips during Southwest fare sales at the lower rates-- fares booked using RR points are fully refundable, so you can cancel your trip and turn around a book it at the lower rate. I've saved thousands and thousands of RR points that way.
     
  19. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Thanks. I've been watching for price reductions but have yet to see any. I'll keep looking, thanks for the reminder.
     
  20. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    Subscribe to Southwest emails. I always check when they've announced a big sale.
     
  21. zceuxbhjutf

    zceuxbhjutf Panel 3 Member

    Back in the day, you could do creative routing with the certificates (which no longer exist). Prolly the most classic example was coast-to-coast: the website would show tons of 1-stop options via Midway Chicago and other airports that could be nightmares during summer thunder season, but you could manually create two separate flights coast-Vegas and Vegas-othercoast. It would look like you'd need to use two certificates until you clicked the final button and then it would go to one certificate. Airlines tend to almost always want Vegas as a beginning or endpoint, dunno if due to tourism bureau subsidies or what.

    Slight possibility a similar concept works with points but I've yet to experiment.
     
  22. MK17

    MK17 Love to Travel

    I have done that as well. It has saved me a ton of points over the years.
     
  23. notalent

    notalent Michael Bolton

    Do you call and rebook, or do you do it online?
     
  24. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    You guys. Well, I found the unique check in page by myself. Again, it felt like I was trying to manually deliver an eBay snipe for something important! I was all ready 15 minutes before time (and of course checked to make sure it wouldn't take me earlier a few times).

    Anyway. I clicked through both browsers perhaps 1-2 seconds apart. I scored A-39 and A-50. Did I do good? From previous posts and all of my reading, I believe I did.

    Now. Anyone have any strategies for couples traveling together? We'll try to find seats as up-front as possible based on readings. Pick the outside seats and hope nobody sits in the middle? Or do I just sit next to my wife, in the middle seat, and hope nobody picks the aisle. I think that seat might prove to be way too attractive to pass up, eh?
     
  25. AnyNameYouWish

    AnyNameYouWish Level 2 Member

    I check back several times a week, without sales being advertised and I rebook myself online.
     
  26. AnyNameYouWish

    AnyNameYouWish Level 2 Member

    I think you did really great! I always forget about check in and end up in mid Cs. I don't usually care enough to make the effort. I'd pick the outside seat and just leave a small bag on the middle one. A50 isn't that far behind you so it shouldn't be too much of a struggle to hold that. If she was in high Bs or Cs that might be different. Enjoy your trip!
     
  27. Cmonman76

    Cmonman76 Level 2 Member

    Depends on your flight. The last few I have been on were completely booked so there was no hope of keeping a middle seat empty. My wife thinks she has to have an isle so when it is just us two that puts me in a middle seat on full flights.
     
  28. MK17

    MK17 Love to Travel

    I have done both. When I have my companion with me, I have to call, but when it is just me, I do it online. I would also call when I am driving and want to make the change then.
     
  29. MK17

    MK17 Love to Travel

    If you and your SO get boarding numbers that are far apart, which I have before, I (since I am A List and always board ahead of my wife), will grab a middle seat about a 1/4 of the way back in the plane. This leaves room for the folks who MUST have a forward seat. I find that women traveling alone prefer to sit next to other women, so I usually don't have to worry about them wanting to take one of the seats next to me. This allows time for my wife to board and get one of the two seats next to me. Hope this helps.
     
  30. AnyNameYouWish

    AnyNameYouWish Level 2 Member

    I have rebooked online with a scheduled companion. You just have to cancel the companion first and reschedule them last. Really depends on how fast you think the seats will be taken.
     
  31. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    I checked the flight we take this evening a couple of weeks ago. There was nothing cheaper. I just checked a trip in early August that is a little more miles-expensive, but the combo of those flights is showing at 3k MORE. Will keep checking.

    Belize in Jan was a big miles suck. Well, we have a couple of day stop in FL for a convention and that made for a pretty convenient base for continuing TO Belize. Coming home, they don't even list CLE direct. So we did two individual flights with a stop in Fort Lauderdale for a day. Getting to CLE from there is still a 7 hour adventure (3 hours in BWI; easy), but the tallying up of 4 individual legs w/2 of them international took a big chunk of my stash. I'll watch for reductions here, too, but I'll need some luck.

    I'm ready with cash and transfer points to take best advantage of this CP for all of next year. Still might be able to squeeze in one more weekend trip late fall ...
     
  32. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    We travel regularly on SW and almost always the flights are completely booked. The last two flights we were maybe 15 numbers apart? My husband was able to snag the exit row both flights. The FA was standing in between the seats, so I think that's why nobody tried to sit down. So I was able to get the seat next to him.

    I find that the middle seat actually has wider leg room space. Normally one of us takes an aisle and puts a bag on the middle seat until the other makes it to the seat. Has worked for us so far.

    We are traveling tomorrow and have a 30 minute connection. That makes me nervous - so we will try to grab whatever we can get up front. I have A27 for first leg.
     
  33. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Not a good first experience with SW. In short: we're still in Cleveland. Flight was delayed, then delayed again, then canceled. Weather was certainly tricky, but no other flights were canceled that we could see. Then we heard (apparently just a rumor) that there was a bombing at the BWI airport ... all I see was a minor, short-term issue with an abandoned bag in a parking garage that was cleared quickly.

    I've booked a replacement flight for tomorrow, but it does mess with our plans a bit. We'll see what we can salvage. I'll also note that I booked it while on extensive hold waiting for a CSR, and it listed at 11k more miles than today's flight was. I instead paid with cash in the form of a GC ... well, partly because I was afraid of losing the flight to some of the other displaced passengers from today, and I didn't have enough miles left (the canceled flight had not yet returned points to my account).

    Anyway. 30 minutes on with a CSR finally (mostly on hold) to make sure our return flight did not get canceled. I paid $22 extra for Business Select only to get an A-02 boarding position. This didn't help my wife on the CP, who scored a middle-class B-47. I'll grab a window seat mid-front plane and try my bag in the middle seat for as long as I can.

    So, we'll try again tomorrow.

    Question: I have cash and I have "surplus" UR. Surplus means I have enough UR and United miles for a RT in business to China (or most other places; need to recalc with the new United prices). By current calcs I have 52k (corrected) UR to spare. Who would use their UR @ 1.6 cents per point? I figure this is pretty uninspiring. Anyone disagree?
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2017
  34. Cmonman76

    Cmonman76 Level 2 Member

    I use my UR for Southwest all the time because 1. It's much more flexible to book with points than cash and 2. UR's cost me much less than 1.6 cents to earn.

    Sorry you had a poor experience. I don't think I've hardly even had a slight delay in the last 3 years of increased flying with them.
     
  35. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    You're right of course. If I'm leveraging a way to get 5x (Staples typically) periodically, my cost is way low for these. And while 1.6x is slightly lower than the blog-quoted value (which on occasion I have done perceivable better), it's still not a bad return. I guess it's time to print a few more UR points :).
     

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