When I was doing my annual credit card review for 2022, I spent some time thinking about what I should do with my Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card. Did I want to upgrade to the Priority card for 5,000 points or cancel it and open a new Priority card account to earn the 50,000-point sign-up bonus? Should I try earning another Companion Pass? A lot to consider.
Southwest Performance Issues
The fact that Southwest canceled tons of flights in June weighed heavily on me and created some trust issues with using their airline. But they got themselves back on track and I resumed mulling over my plans for their credit card and using their airline going forward. My husband and I each have some big credits with them that we need to use up so I need to plan at least one itinerary with them to use up those funds. I also amassed a significant amount of points with them last year during an accelerated points promotion for gas, grocery, and Amazon purchases. Using both the points and credits would mean planning 1-2 itineraries with them.
Then came their huge meltdown over the holidays that left thousands of people stranded. It was a nightmare that uncovered some big flaws with their systems and even caused the Transportation Department to begin an investigation into the airline and its practices. Although my past experiences with their customer service have always been really good, with so many customers and flights to address they failed hard at getting things resolved during this time. All of this has caused huge trust concerns for not only the people involved, but also for the people who heard about it all over the news, and me as well.
I live in Michigan which experiences severe weather systems from December through March. Last February we flew with them to Miami. Our flight had a connection in Nashville. A snowstorm had come in the day before our flight causing our plane to require significant time for deicing before takeoff. This made the connection so close that we literally got off the first plane and walked across to another gate and boarded immediately. With their current track record of canceling mass flights, I would be very hesitant to book a flight during those months.
I think that a lot of people will be hesitant to fly with Southwest this year. Passenger compensation and upgrading processes could have Southwest hemorrhaging a lot of money this year, especially in the first quarter.
A decline in business for Southwest may also cause current Chase Rapid Reward cardholders to drop them like a hot potato and signups for new accounts could see a significant decline That might lead to Chase having to scramble out some big promotions on its cobranded credit cards in order to attract new business and maintain the cardholders that it has. They are going to need to dangle a really big carrot which may lead to elevated points earning opportunities, big signup bonuses, larger retention offers, or perhaps a fast track to the Companion Pass.
They are both going to have to act fast to minimalize collateral damage.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
So where does that leave me standing? The anniversary on my card is this month, so I need to make a decision NOW. I don’t like to make knee-jerk decisions, so I think the best course of action is no action. I plan to keep my current card, collect my anniversary points, and wait a bit before I make any changes. Maybe they will roll out a promotion that will make the wait worth my while.
If things don’t head in the right direction, I can always use up my credits and miles later this year and cancel my card before my next anniversary date.
I have taken a lot of great trips with Southwest over the last few years and sincerely hope that they will be able to remedy their issues and make a solid recovery in 2023. It’s definitely time for them to invest in system upgrades in order to be able to better handle these situations going forward and work toward regaining customer trust. Due to my own trust issues with Southwest’s performance, I will not book any flights with them until after the winter weather season and I have had an opportunity to watch how they move forward during the first quarter.