Note: Read the primer on Using Miles if you have not already.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based points program. This means that the number of points you need to redeem for an award depends on the price of the ticket. Thus, all of the normal rules for finding low-priced tickets apply here, such as avoiding flights on Friday or Sunday, purchasing during a sale, etc.
Award Chart: Points are worth about 1.65 cents each toward Wanna Get Away fares (depending on taxes).
Close-In Booking Fees: None.
Stopovers and Open-Jaws: N/A. You can create all of the stopovers and open-jaws that you wish if you break your trip into multiple one-way awards.
Fuel Surcharges: None.
Go to Southwest to search for award flights. The process of searching for an award flight is very straightforward, so I’ll skip the in-depth tutorial. In fact, it is the exact same process as searching for a revenue ticket except that you’ll select to see your fares in Points instead of Dollars.
Using Your Companion Pass
If you have the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, you’ll first want to have a ticket booked for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s a revenue or award ticket or even if someone else is paying – it just has to be in your name. Once you have that… <I’ll finish this after I get my pass so that I can take screenshots of the process and post them here.>
Advanced Tips & Tricks
Rebooking flights to save points – Because Southwest reward flights have no cancellation or change fees, if the prices of your flights drop, you can rebook them and have the difference in points refunded to your account. To do this, go to Change Air Reservation and enter your confirmation number, first name, and last name. Select which flights you want to change (you can do both at once), and perform your search. Choose your new flights, and on the final checkout screen, you’ll see the amount of Rapid Rewards points being refunded to you. You can do this an unlimited number of times before your trip.