Southwest A-List & A-List Preferred: (Benefits, Status Matches) [2019]

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Are you trying to figure out the requirements for earning elite status with Southwest Airlines? Are you also wondering what the benefits are for earning elite status with Southwest?

Well, this article has you covered.

In this article, I’m going to cover everything you need to know about Southwest Airlines A-List and A-List Preferred. I’ll go over things like how to earn the status and other things like status matches, the A-List phone number, and of course all of the key benefits.

Be sure to check out the infographic at the bottom of the article as well!

What is Southwest A-List?

A-List is the elite status of Southwest Airlines and consists of two separate tiers: the standard A-List level and then the higher level of A-List Preferred.

I will be talking about both of these in detail below.

Right off the bat I think it is worth noting that elite status with Southwest is different from other major airlines like United.

That is mostly because Southwest does not force you to pay for your baggage so there’s no baggage perks and there is no true business class or even economy plus to get upgraded to. There are also no lounges or special alliance partner benefits to take advantage of.

So the benefits for Southwest A-List are going to be a little bit different. That’s not to say that they can’t be valuable, however. Many people who frequently fly Southwest will find some of the benefits below very valuable.

How to earn Southwest A-List

You can earn A-List If you meet the following requirements in a calendar year:

  • 25 one-way qualifying flights OR
  • 35,000 tier qualifying points

Purchasing A-List

In the past, Southwest has offered chances for you to purchase your tier qualifying points. For example, you could purchase up to 15,000 tier-qualifying points (TQPs), in increments of 2,500 Rapid Rewards points to move up to the first tier. Prices ranged from $350 for 2,500 tier-qualifying Rapid Rewards points, and up to $1,199 for 15,000 TQPs.

(These points could not be applied to A-List Preferred or Companion Pass tiers.)

Southwest credit cards

You can also utilize Southwest credit cards like the Southwest Premier credit card which will allow you to earn credits toward A-List when you meet certain spending requirements.

You’ll earn 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually which equal 15,000 TQP.

You’ll also get:

  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 6,000 anniversary points

I should note that the new Southwest Priority card also comes with this earning potential in addition to a number of other perks which include:

  • Bonus spending:
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
    • 2X Rapid Rewards on hotel and car rental partner purchases.
    • 1X Rapid Rewards on all other purchases
  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year
  • Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $149 annual fee applied to your first billing statement

So you can get nearly half way to A-List just by putting spend spend on your Southwest credit cards. And if you chose to purchase some of your qualifying points, you could get just under 5,000 points short of achieving A-list status (though I would just stick to the credit card A-List bonuses).

Getting Southwest A-List for free

Southwest has been known to offer special targeted offers where they offer you A-List status for free. Other targeted offers might simply require you to make a handful of Southwest flights in order to get the status.

For example, you may have to make three round trip flights for six one way flights or simply earn a threshold number of tier qualifying points.

Southwest A-List Benefits

Here are the Southwest A-List benefits.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 25% bonus earning
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number

Priority boarding

With A-List, you will be among the first passengers to board the plane. Also, if you purchase a last minute ticket after boarding pass groups have been issued, you should be allowed to board between Group A and Group B.

That is pretty significant because it means that regardless of when you purchase a ticket you will pretty much always be guaranteed a window or aisle seat and you should not have an issue finding room for your baggage in the overhead bins. For you last minute-travelers, this could be a huge convenience.

Below is the entire order of the Southwest Airlines boarding process.

  • Passengers already on the plane
  • Pre-boarding
  • Business Select
  • A-list Preferred
  • A-list
  • EarlyBird
  • Boarding Group A
  • Boarding Group B
  • Boarding Group C
  • Standbys

Priority security and check-in lanes

With A-List, you’ll be able to get through the check-in lines and the security lines much quicker. This can be an extremely convenient benefit because I have seen some check-in lines for the bags very long at Southwest airport terminals. During those times, I have seen the priority check-in lanes empty or only with a couple of passengers.

The priority security lanes can be quicker too but if you are interested in breezing through security you may also want to look into programs like TSA Pre-Check and CLEAR. Both of those can save you a lot of time and going to security and it is not limited to only flying with Southwest.

These security lanes will only be available in select cities. Sometimes there may only be a priority check-in and other times there may only be priority security (or there may be both).

NOTE: You must present your A-List Membership card or a boarding pass indicating you are traveling on a Business Select Fare in order to access the Fly By Security Lane.

25% bonus earning

Typically, You will earn Southwest Rapid Rewards at the following rates

  • 6X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 10X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 12X per dollar for Business Select 

However, as an A-List member of those Earnings will be increased by 25%. So here are the earnings for an A-List member.

  • 7.5X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 12.5X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 15X per dollar for Business Select

Free same day standby

One of the benefits of being an A-List member is that you can jump on flights that are more convenient. This is known as the same day standby benefit and it’s also available to Business Select and Anytime passengers when there is no change in fare.

It’s a great and convenient benefit, but it does come with some restrictions you should be aware of.

Free same-day standby will be provided for A-List and A-List Preferred Members:

  • Traveling prior to the original scheduled departure
  • Between the same city pairs
  • On the original date of travel
  • Where a seat is available.

If the flight that you are trying to get on does not meet the qualifications you can still get on with a standby ticket but there are some conditions that apply. On flights that do not meet these qualifications, A-List and A-List Preferred Members will receive priority standby and will be required to pay the difference in fare if a seat becomes available.

You should also note that you cannot use this benefit for someone traveling with you who is not in A-List member. Southwest states:

If an A-List or A-List Preferred Member is traveling on a multiple-Passenger reservation, free same-day standby and priority standby will not be provided for non-A-List or non-A-List Preferred Members in the same reservation.

Dedicated A-List phone number

As an A-List member you will have access to the priority phone line. The A-List priority phone number is: 1-888-737-1005. 

A-list Preferred

How to earn A-List Preferred

A-List preferred is the upper tier of elite status with Southwest Airlines and so as you would expect it is a little bit tougher to get.

You can earn A-List Preferred if you meet the following requirements in a calendar year:

  • 50 one-way qualifying flights OR
  • 70,000 tier qualifying points

You can also use the same credit cards that earn tier qualifying points but note that most status challenges and matches will get you the lower tier of A-List.

A-List Preferred Benefits

The benefits for A-list Preferred are extremely similar to the benefits for A-List.

  • Priority boarding
  • Priority security and check-in lanes
  • 100% bonus earning
  • Free same day standby
  • Dedicated A-List phone number
  • Free in-flight wifi

Priority boarding

As shown above, the priority boarding is just one group ahead of the standard A-List members.

Priority security and chicken lanes

These will be the same as those for A-List.

100% bonus

One dramatic difference between A-List and A-List Preferred is that the bonus earning rate jumps up from 25% to 100%.

So this is with the earning rates look like:

A-List Preferred

  • 12X per dollar for Wanna Get Away fares
  • 20X per dollar for Anytime fares
  • 24X per dollar for Business Select

That 24X per dollar for Business Select is pretty high so if you are an A-List Preferred member and constantly flying Business Selector around the country you will be racking up tons and tons of Rapid Rewards.

Free same day standby

The same standby benefits apply to A-List Preferred members as above.

Dedicated A-List phone number

A-List Preferred members have A dedicated mind as well but their number is different. The A-List Preferred priority phone line is 1-888-737-1006.

Free Wi-Fi

Another unique benefit for A-List Preferred members is that they get free Wi-Fi on flights. Now, not every Southwest flight will have Wi-Fi capabilities but you can check to see which ones do before the flight.

A-List Status matches

Southwest has been known to offer status matches to A-List.

Typically, the way it works is you provide Southwest with proof of your elite status with another domestic airline and they will provide you with A-List status for 90 days.

Then during that 90-day period, You can get your status extended by an additional 12 months by meeting a certain threshold of flights. For example you may need to make three qualifying roundtrips or six one-way flights.

You can find the Southwest status match information here. 

A-List upgrades

A-List does not offer a complementary upgrades to Southwest Business Select.

Instead, if you are interested in getting upgrades to business select then you should look into the Southwest priority credit card which offers for annual upgrades.

You should know that you also can pay for an upgrade when you arrive at the airport for a pretty modest price usually around $30-$40.

Southwest Companion pass

If you are doing a lot of flying to earn A-List then chances are you probably are a contender to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. That is an extremely valuable pass that will allow a companion to fly for free with you for up to two calendar years. Read more about the Companion Pass here

Is A-List worth it?

So is A-List list worth it?

Well, that is going to depend on your personal preferences and flying habits. Below are some questions that you may want to ask yourself to see if the status will be worth it for you.

Do you utilize a standby?

If you are someone who does a lot of traveling for business then you might want to catch those earlier flights whenever meetings end shorter than expected or you get done with your work quicker. Being able to utilize the standby tickets for free is a great benefit for those type of people but you might already get that perk with Business Select.

Do you cut things close?

If you are always on the go and typically arrive at the airport just before departure then being able to breeze through the check in line and even the security line could be a major benefit for yourself. The combination of A-List, TSA Pre-Check, and CLEAR could be a great trifecta to get you through to the boarding area very quickly.

Do you want to earn a lot of Rapid Rewards?

As an A-List member, your Rapid Rewards earnings will greatly increase especially if you are able to achieve A-List Preferred. If you are someone who can earn Rapid Rewards with work travel, then this could be a great way to take advantage of the status.

And you don’t always have to put your Rapid Rewards towards travel. I know a few people who do not travel that often outside of work and they use their Rapid Rewards for gift cards. You might be sacrificing a little bit of value but what good or travel points if you have no goals or intentions to travel?

Final word

Elite status with Southwest may not be about the upgrades but Southwest Airlines A-List offers several perks to make your travel more convenient and rewarding. With expedited check-in, security, same-day standby and other perks this status can be worth it for a lot of people. For more on Southwest, be sure to check out my tips here


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