Southwest Airlines makes rewards points less valuable overnight

Southwest Rapid Rewards points requiring travelers to use around 6% more points when booking

Travelers will have to use more points to redeem flights and other rewards onboard Southwest Airlines. 

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The Dallas-based carrier on Wednesday lowered the value of its Rapid Rewards points, requiring travelers to use around 6% more points per flight ticket. The update comes just as travelers are becoming more comfortable with getting on a plane again as more Americans become fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

(Southwest Airlines/Stephen M. Keller)

Southwest Airlines seems to have made the change to its rewards program without updating customers, many of whom transferred travel vouchers into points during the pandemic, but unlike other airlines which gave customers advanced notice, the change reportedly happened overnight, according to The Points Guy. 

"Just when I wanted to entertain the idea of flying again," one user said on Twitter in response to the airline devaluing the rewards program. 

Other loyal customers said they felt blindsided by the news of the point system changing. 

"Guess @SouthwestAir doesn’t want me to keep using them…always tell your customers BEFORE you devalue LOYALTY points," another user Tweeted at the airline. 

Southwest Airlines did not immediately return a FOX Business request for comment Thursday.

But with travelers waiting on standby to use flights during the pandemic, many are now looking to cash in on their points before they expire. Indeed, an estimated 20 million vouchers are currently available totaling an estimated $10 billion in future airline credits slated to expire, Kurt Knutsson, The Cyber Guy, told FOX Business last week. 

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Other airlines, meanwhile, are enticing travelers to take advantage of miles even more. Hawaiian Airlines on Monday said its HawaiianMiles would no longer expire allowing travelers to continue earning miles through flights. 

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Southwest is keeping its current price for pints at 2.75 cents each, according to The Points Guy.  The airline awards points based on the price of tickets purchased, unlike other airlines which also factor in distance traveled. 

 Hayley Rieman contributed to this report