This strategy is nothing new for major airlines. They all try to steal passengers from their competitors using lucrative frequent flyer promotions. But Southwest has played this game less often, because in the past, it wasn't much of a competitor to Delta, American and United. But times change, and Southwest apparently is betting it can play in the big leagues.
Southwest Airlines Co. is going after its rivals’ best customers by matching the elite-flyer status of some passengers on other U.S. carriers.
Members of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program who prove upper-tier standing at other airlines will be upgraded to the carrier’s “A-List” for 90 days. Those who qualify can earn an additional 12 months on the list by making three round-trip or six one-way flights within the 90-day period, Southwest spokeswoman Thais Hanson said Friday.
“This promotion is an opportunity to showcase the benefits of A-List status to our customers, especially those who may be tired of not being recognized as part of other airline loyalty programs.” Hanson said in an email.
The program began Friday with offers to Rapid Rewards members in Washington, Atlanta and San Diego. The Dallas-based airline will add more cities “as necessary” as it evaluates the success of the offer, Hanson said. A-List benefits include priority boarding, check-in and security-lane access, as well as free same-day standby.
Rapid Rewards members have to receive program emails to get the offer. Southwest made a similar pitch earlier this year to targeted customers around the country, and in three California markets last year. The company declined to comment on the success of those earlier efforts.
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Photo credit: Southwest is going after customers in key markets by offering them elite frequent flyer status. Pictured is the company's website on a tablet. Southwest Airlines