Southwest A-List status: What you get and how to qualify

Young man looking backwards and smiling as he boards his Southwest flightImage: Young man looking backwards and smiling as he boards his Southwest flight
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Southwest A-List status gives you a better chance to pick the seat you want when you fly.

Whether you prefer a window, aisle or middle seat, with A-List status you’ll be at the front of the line with priority boarding.



At a glance: Southwest A-List status levels

Southwest Airlines offers two A-List status levels: A-List and A-List Preferred. And both can get you priority boarding, an especially important perk when flying Southwest.

But if you’re looking to bring along a friend or family member on your next trip, you’ll have to work toward earning Southwest’s highly coveted Companion Pass.

Let’s take a closer look at how the A-List status levels compare.

  A-List A-List Preferred
Priority check-in and security lane
Priority boarding
Same-day standby
Free in-flight Wi-Fi  

Southwest A-List status

What does Southwest A-List status get you?

A-list status comes with priority boarding, but that’s not the only advantage. When you arrive at the airport, Southwest’s Fly By® Access gives you access to a priority check-in line and priority security lane — which can be key if you’re in a rush. You’ll also be eligible for same-day standby flights, which gives you more flexibility to switch to an earlier flight without paying a change fee — or even the fare difference.

And Southwest A-List members can earn 25% more points than regular Rapid Rewards® members when they fly. The exact number of points you get depends on the type of ticket you book and how much it costs. You’ll get …

  • 7.5 points for every $1 spent on Wanna Get Away? fares
  • 12.5 points per $1 on Anytime fares
  • 15 points per $1 on Business Select fares

How do I qualify for Southwest A-List status?

To qualify for Southwest A-List status, you’ll need …

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

These thresholds must be met within a calendar year. When you qualify, you’ll earn benefits for the rest of that year and the entirety of the next calendar year.

It’s worth noting that only the points you earn from flying or from spending on certain Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards count as tier-qualifying points. But if you’re a big spender, you could earn a few extra tier-qualifying points that way.

Southwest A-List Preferred status

What does Southwest A-List Preferred status get you?

On top of all the perks you get as an A-List member, A-List Preferred status comes with one more key advantage: You’ll receive free in-flight Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected while you’re in the air.

You’ll also get higher priority for standby flights than A-List members. And Southwest A-List Preferred members also earn 100% more points than regular Rapid Rewards® members when they fly.

That means you’ll get …

  • 12 points per $1 spent on Wanna Get Away? fares
  • 20 points per $1 on Anytime fares
  • 24 points per $1 on Business Select fares

How do I qualify for Southwest A-List Preferred status?

To qualify for Southwest A-List Preferred status, you’ll need …

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

Once again, you must meet those thresholds in a calendar year, and you’ll keep your benefits until the end of the following calendar year.

Once again, spending on certain Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards could give you a boost.

What A-List doesn’t include

Southwest’s A-List status levels don’t include some of the perks that you may expect to get with some other airline rewards programs. In fact, benefits that typically come with elite status levels are already part of what Southwest offers all passengers, regardless of status.

  • Checked bags — All passengers can check two bags for free.
  • Change fees — There are no change fees ever. If your plans change, you can switch flights. The only thing you’ll be charged for is the fare difference if your new flight is more expensive.
  • Boarding and seating — The airline doesn’t offer first-class seating. Instead Southwest assigns a boarding position. All the seats are the same, so there are no upgrades in the traditional sense, but because Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred members receive priority boarding, they get a chance to board before other passengers, regardless of when they check in. So they have a better chance of selecting the seat they want.
  • Lounges — Southwest has no airport lounges. So A-List status won’t help you find a quiet place to relax while you wait for your flight.

If you’re a frequent flyer with elite status, you might be disappointed by these shortcomings.

Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards

A Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card could make it easier for you to qualify for Southwest A-List and A-List Preferred status, plus the coveted Companion Pass. Here are a few to consider.


About the author: Tim Devaney is a personal finance writer and credit card expert at Credit Karma. He’s a longtime journalist who prides himself on being a good storyteller who can explain complex information in an easily digestible wa… Read more.