Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards Takes Top Honors at Frequent Flyer Awards Ceremony

Program Earns Best Award Redemption, Best Customer Service, and Best Bonus Promotion Honors

DALLAS, May 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — For seven straight years in a row, Southwest Airlines was honored with first place for Best Award Redemption at InsideFlyer magazine’s 17th annual Freddie Awards ceremony last week in New York City. The airline has won this honor each of the seven years that the magazine has awarded it. Along with the Best Award Redemption, Southwest received first place awards for Best Customer Service and Best Bonus Promotion.

“We are excited the flying public recognizes the value and simplicity of the Rapid Rewards program,” said Debra Benton, Southwest’s Director of Loyalty and Partnership Marketing. “We strive to make the program Customer friendly and easy to use. The Freddie Awards confirm that our program gives frequent flyers what they want — outstanding Customer Service and a simple way to earn and redeem free travel.”

Each year, InsideFlyer magazine invites members of all frequent traveler programs to vote for the programs they feel deliver the best combination of benefits, awards, and returns on loyalty from the traveler’s point of view. Winners are determined not only by how many votes a program receives, but by the overall merits of each program as reflected in “value voting,” where voters rate their favorite programs on a scale of one to ten. More than 315,000 frequent flyers submitted ballots to Freddie Awards organizers, casting votes for programs worldwide.

Southwest also was honored with second place awards in the categories for Program of the Year, Best Web Site, Best Member Communications, and Best Bonus Promotion. For the second place Best Bonus Promotion, the airline was honored for the Visa credit card promotion where Rapid Rewards Members received double credit when purchasing airfare on using a Visa card (October 1 – December 15, 2004). The airline has won several Freddie Awards from InsideFlyer over the years and has been given high marks for many program elements.

“If loyalty had to be based on a single factor, it would be Customer Service. Southwest’s Rapid Rewards [program] not only understands this, but for the fourth straight year, and fifth time overall, has been singled out by the traveling public as the single best example,” Randy Peterson, InsideFlyer Editor and Publisher, said during the awards ceremony in New York City.

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program lets frequent flyers stop counting miles and start taking trips. “It’s easy to earn trips, and it’s even easier to redeem them,” Benton said. “It’s a program members can actually use, not just dream about.”

Members earn credits by flying or doing business with the program’s preferred partners. A roundtrip equals two credits (a one-way ticket equals one). Members must fly eight roundtrips or earn 16 credits in a 12-month period to receive a roundtrip award. Once the award is earned (by flying, buying, staying, driving, surfing the Internet, or talking on the phone), Southwest automatically sends the Ticketless Award to the Customer’s online account — free travel fast with no hassle. Plus, Southwest allows the member to transfer the award to anyone. The Award is free but subject to the U.S. government September 11th Security Fee of up to $10 roundtrip.

Currently, Southwest offers Rapid Rewards Members double credit for flights into or out of Baltimore/Washington International or flights to or from Chicago Midway booked on and flown by August 3, 2005. At the elite level, Southwest offers members who fly 50 roundtrips (or earn 100 credits) within 12 months a Companion Pass, which allows a member to designate a traveler to fly with them free of charge for 12 months.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of scheduled domestic departures. The airline currently serves 59 airports in 31 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates nearly 3,000 flights a day and has 31,000 employees systemwide. The carrier will begin service to Pittsburgh on May 4, 2005.

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