As the integration between Southwest and AirTran progresses the company is working to integrate their loyalty programs. Today’s milestone in that effort was the announcement that points and credits in the two programs are now fungible between the two systems via an online interface.
At first blush this is a good thing. Making it possible for members to combine their points and take advantage of the redemption opportunities available via the partner is a good thing. It also provides an idea of how the company will value the points as the programs are combined in the future as the AirTran brand is retired. All good news, to be sure. That said, there are some bits about the conversion that are, well, interesting.
First up, it appears that Southwest will not permit AirTran credits to be converted to RapidRewards points; they can only be converted to RapidRewards credits. Given the move towards points rather than credits with the new RapidRewards program this doesn’t make a ton of sense given that they have an established ratio, but I suppose it is what it is.
Next, converting points doesn’t extend the expiry of them. They certainly didn’t have to do that but it would have been customer-friendly and useful. Not necessarily surprising, but a bit disappointing.
There is also the conversion factors in place. Under the plan 1200 points will convert to 1 A+ credit. That can be converted back to a RapidRewards only as 1 credit, not as points, but the rough math there seems to be a losing proposition. To get to 8 credits, enough for a one-way trip, would require 9,600 points. That same number of points is worth $160 at the Wanna Get Away fare levels if redeeming as points. Then again, for last minute tickets where the fare is high redeeming 19,200 points to get to 16 credits for a one-way unrestricted award seems to be a better value than getting only $160 worth of Business Select fare value for the same number of points.
Finally, I don’t understand why they chose to display graphics showing one set of numbers and descriptions showing a different set, albeit at the same ratio:
Definitely a bit strange, even if accurate.
Overall, nothing incredibly surprising or revealing in the system set up to handle these transactions. Good for customers in general as it opens up more options.