Members of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program and AirTran's A+ Rewards program may now transfer their points between the two programs.
This is a first step toward the eventual merger of the two programs. In the meantime, it adds value to both programs by giving members of each program access to the combined award options—93 destinations, including Mexico and the Caribbean—of Southwest and AirTran.
Rapid Rewards members may convert their Rapid Rewards points, credits (the old Rapid Rewards currency, still in circulation), and active awards and certificates into A+ Rewards Credits as follows:
- 1,200 Rapid Rewards points = one A+ Rewards credit;
- One Rapid Rewards credit = one A+ Rewards credit;
- One Rapid Rewards Standard Award = 16 A+ Rewards credits; and
- One Rapid Rewards Freedom Award = 32 A+ Rewards credits.
A+ Rewards members may convert their A+ Rewards credits into Rapid Rewards credits as follows:
- One A+ Rewards credit = one Rapid Rewards credit.
Conspicuously missing from the above is the option of converting A+ credits into Rapid Rewards points. Points after all are the primary currency of Rapid Rewards, and presumably will remain so when AirTran's program is eventually folded into Southwest's. A Southwest representative explained that the airline is adopting the same policy that governed last year's transition from the old Rapid Rewards to the current version—a response that isn't likely to satisfy anyone who thinks to raise the question.
With the two programs' different currencies and expiration policies, the expiration of converted rewards is messy.
- When converting Rapid Rewards points to A+ credits, the expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards credits will be one year from the date of creation.
- When converting Rapid Rewards credits to A+ credits, the expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards credits will be the same as the original expiration date of the Rapid Rewards credits transferred.
- When converting Rapid Rewards award certificates, the expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards credits will remain the same as the original expiration date on the Award Certificate.
- When converting A+ Rewards credits to Rapid Rewards credits, the expiration date of newly created Rapid Rewards credits will be the same as the original expiration date of the A+ Rewards credits converted. Once you reach 16 total combined credits in your Rapid Rewards account, an Award will automatically generate, carrying an expiration date of one year from the date the Award was created.
If you have points or credits in both programs, it's definitely worth taking the time to think through what new award opportunities might arise if you consolidated your earnings from one program to the other. Consider your priorities as they relate to the two carriers' respective strengths. Southwest has a much more extensive flight network than AirTran. AirTran, on the other hand, offers business class and flies to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Reader Reality Check
Do you plan to convert points from one program to the other? How many, and for what award?
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This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.