Southwest Chases Elite-Level Flyers by Poaching Them From Rivals

(Bloomberg) -- Southwest Airlines Co. is going after its rivals’ best customers by matching the elite-flyer status of some passengers on other U.S. carriers.

Members of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program who prove upper-tier standing at other airlines will be upgraded to the carrier’s “A-List” for 90 days. Those who qualify can earn an additional 12 months on the list by making three round-trip or six one-way flights within the 90-day period, Southwest spokeswoman Thais Hanson said Friday.

“This promotion is an opportunity to showcase the benefits of A-List status to our customers, especially those who may be tired of not being recognized as part of other airline loyalty programs.” Hanson said in an email.

The program began Friday with offers to Rapid Rewards members in Washington, Atlanta and San Diego. The Dallas-based airline will add more cities “as necessary” as it evaluates the success of the offer, Hanson said. A-List benefits include priority boarding, check-in and security-lane access, as well as free same-day standby.

Rapid Rewards members have to receive program emails to get the offer. Southwest made a similar pitch earlier this year to targeted customers around the country, and in three California markets last year. The company declined to comment on the success of those earlier efforts.

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