New WN RR program (RR 2.0) coming: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/southwest-rapid-rewards/1168741-rapid-rewards-2-0-begins-march-1-2011-a.html You should definitely read the first post, which has all the essential details.
Current WN RR (1.0): http://www.southwest.com/rapid_rewards/rules_and_regs.html
RR 2.0 is based on new types of points, which will work almost like cash toward purchase of Wanna Get Away/Anytime/BS tickets. The aim in RR 2.0 is to reward with extra points people who fly the expensive fare buckets and also flyers with the new levels of WN elite status. There will also now be two different types of points, Tier-Qualifying Points and regular, in the same way that UA has EQMs and RDMs. You will be able to top off any “loose” credits you have left as of 3/1/11 with new points you acquire.
ENHANCEMENTS PER WN: http://www.southwest.com/newRR/programOverview.do: No capacity controls, no blackouts, points don’t expire, int’l travel Awards, better A-List
1. Less CC spend required for the Companion Pass (CP), and better Visa CC to come
2. Points pile up until you transfer for an Award purchase: better control on timing
3. Elite status & CP are now on calendar year; you get “rest of current year plus next year,” allowing much more lucrative early Jan. dump for CP from Starpoints, Diners, etc.
4. Probably opportunities for “points runs” and bonus offers will eventuate.
5. Only 25 flights for A-List; 50 for A-List Preferred with more perks & bonuses
6. Elite travelers will see their return go up a lot, perhaps several hundred percent
7. Previous system, with more valuable “old” Awards, will run in parallel a while
8. Less expensive Award flights will be easier to pay for; mid-continent US may benefit
9. Can buy points to top off & also can redeem for a one-way trip w/o earning a RT first
1. No more Award tickets for flying sixteen $39 flights
2. CP will be awarded based on points OR 100 flights, not the combination of the two
3. You don’t know what target you are shooting for; Awards based on cash ticket price
4. As fares rise over time, the number of points to redeem a given trip will increase.
THE TRANSITION PERIOD
WN is being quite generous with the transition. Essentially if you have A-List/CP expiring in 2011 or earn it under the old rules by the end of 2011 so as to expire in 2012, they will extend to the year-end, and will consider exceptions for special cases.
The more you spend and the higher your status and the cheaper the fare bucket you redeem in, the better off you are. Cheap, low-bucket tickets won’t yield much any.