When Marilyn Bellafiore’s sons were starting their academy search, she had aloof one aphorism about area they could apply: schools amid area Southwest Airlines flies.
Bellafiore has the Southwest Accompaniment Pass, a account offered by the airline that lets bodies acquirement two tickets for the amount of one. The Southwest accompaniment canyon lets you accept one being to be your biking partner, and gives that being a chargeless ride on any Southwest flight you book for yourself — and there are no blackout dates.
To get it, you accept to be an acutely common flier — or a big spender, or both. But back Bellafiore and her bedmate accomplished how abundant money the accompaniment canyon could save their family, they were all in.
“Every time I use it I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” Bellafiore tells MONEY. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Qualifying for the Southwest Accompaniment Canyon takes some investment, and it makes the best faculty for couples who plan to biking calm frequently. To be eligible, you charge fly 100 condoning one-way Southwest flights — the asperous agnate of demography one annular cruise every anniversary — or acquire 110,000 condoning credibility from one of the airline’s acclaim cards (annual fees alpha at $69) or rewards ally in a agenda year. You can additionally do a aggregate of credibility and miles.
Once you arbor up abundant credibility or flights, Southwest lets you accumulate the accompaniment canyon not aloof for the blow of the year in which you qualify, but for the afterward year as well. You accept to accept one being to be your biking “companion” — which is why couples can usually get the best use out of the canyon — although you can change your accompaniment up to three times per year.
The Southwest Accompaniment Canyon has been about back 1987 and is broadly admired by acclaim agenda fanatics as one of the best admired allowances offered in the rewards universe. (The Alaska Airlines acclaim card, for instance, additionally includes a accompaniment book action — but it costs at atomic $99 every time you use it.) And while some accompaniment canyon holders never use their canyon at all, Southwest says, others use it every week, Southwest says.
Bellafiore able for the canyon due to her husband’s common business travel. And already the brace abstruse of the perk, they started application their Southwest acclaim agenda for every acquirement the ancestors made. “I like to let bodies apperceive this has been an asset to our family,” Bellafiore says.
At the time back her sons started attractive at colleges in 2010, she notes, the napkins Southwest handed out with its in-flight beverages had maps of all the cities the airline flies to. Those maps served as the starting point for allotment colleges to visit.
“My sons had alone aureate on Southwest growing up, and we would accessory at the napkins and I would alpha analytic for schools in the cities that were in Southwest’s network,” Bellafiore says. And while she ability accept adopted that her sons appear a academy nearby, she says that because of the flight deals, “the abstraction of our sons accessory academy far abroad from home was accessible for us to swallow.”
Bellafiore’s sons ultimately accept schools that did crave their parents to fly from their hometown of Delmar, N.Y. — a suburb of Albany — in adjustment to appointment them. Her earlier son, Sam, went to the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. (To get there, Marilyn and her bedmate would fly to Chicago and hire a car for the two-hour drive to South Bend.) His adolescent brother, Robert, abounding the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. — aloof 30 account abroad from the Oklahoma City airport.
Bellafiore says the Southwest Accompaniment Canyon has adored her bags of dollars on flights to appointment her accouchement back they started academy — although of advance she and her bedmate accept additionally spent bags on the trips.
Her sons accept back graduated, but Bellafiore says she and her bedmate are still adequate the allowances of the accompaniment pass. They’ve aureate to California abundant times and taken a cruise to Aruba, amid added vacations.
Next on their list? “We’re cat-and-mouse for Southwest to accessible account to Hawaii,” says Bellafiore. “We would adulation to go there application the accompaniment pass. We put off activity to Hawaii for years because we’ve heard that Southwest would fly there one day. So we’ve been acquisitive for a continued time.”
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