I’ve been on vacation for the past few weeks, so this post is a little late; however, the optimal time to do all of this will be in early 2017, so no harm done.
A few weeks back, Marriott and Starwood began allowing rewards members to link their accounts together and to transfer points between the two programs at a ratio of 3 Marriott Rewards points per 1 SPG Starpoint. This opened up the opportunity to purchase a Marriott Hotel + Air Package 3 (Category 1-5) with 90,000 SPG Starpoints instead of the normal cost of 270,000 Marriott Rewards points.
The Hotel + Air packages, in exchange for 270,000 Marriott Rewards points, provide you with a 7-night stay at any Category 1-5 Marriott hotel and 120,000 airline miles of your choice. Package 3 specifically designates the selection of 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. While you could choose another of Marriott’s partner airlines, the main point of this post is to highlight that transfers from Marriott do count toward the 110,000 miles you need to earn to be awarded a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, so simply purchasing this package is enough. Do keep in mind that because the companion pass is valid through December 31st of the year after you earn it, the ideal time for this redemption is on or after January 1, 2017, which gives you an expiration date of December 31, 2018.
In any case, I merely wanted to point out that this option exists and is worth considering for folks who travel a lot domestically. If you’d like to book a Marriott Hotel + Air package, the number to call is (800) 321-7396.