HomeBUSINESSFINANCESouthwest Airlines Makes Another Passenger-Unfriendly Change

Southwest Airlines Makes Another Passenger-Unfriendly Change


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The airline hasn’t exactly been careful about not angering customers after its holiday meltdown.

Southwest Airlines prides itself on having transparent pricing. The airline even coined the term “transfarency” to brag about its lack of hidden costs.

And, compared to low-cost rivals like Spirit Airlines (SAVE) – Get Free Report and economy fares on full-price airlines like Delta (DAL) – Get Free Report or United (UAL) – Get Free Report, Southwest (LUV) – Get Free Report actually does a good job delivering what it promises. When you buy a ticket on Southwest your fare actually covers all of the things you actually need to take the flight.

DON’T MISS:  Southwest Airlines Testing Major Boarding Process Changes

Most discount airlines (or non-discount airlines selling economy tickets) advertise a low price, but then charge for everything from getting a seat assignment to check bags and even carry-ons aside from a small purse-sized personal item. On some lost-cost airlines you will even pay for a bottle of water, coffee, soda, or any other non-alcoholic beverage.

Southwest has never done that. Even checked bags are part of your basic fare. The airline, however, does have a few options for passengers looking for some extras (really just five in total) and prices for those add-ons have generally been increasing.

Now, Southwest has quietly followed on the heels of changing its WiFi pricing in a very customer-unfriendly way, with another fee increase.

Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

These Are the Things Southwest Charges Extra For

Southwest may have had its fair share of well-earned bad publicity recently, but the company has lived up to its “transfarency” promise. Once you buy a ticket, you literally don’t have to buy anything else, but the airline does sell a few extras:

  • Alcoholic beverages: The airline includes water, soda, coffee, and tea, but you will pay extra for beer, wine, liquor, and bottled cold brew.
  • WiFi: Southwest used to charge $8 per 24-hour period. That recently changed and the airline now charges $8 per segment.  
  • Early Bird Checkin: Southwest boards its planes based on a letter and number system. Passengers are given a letter (A, B, or C) at check-in as well as a number within the letter group. That determines when you board. Early Bird Checkin automates the check-in process meaning that the passenger does not have to remember to go to Southwest.com 24 hours before their flight. ‘EarlyBird Check-In pricing starts at $15. Pricing may vary based on the popularity and length of each (one-way) flight.” Each flight segment requires a separate Early Bird Purchase.
  • Upgraded Boarding: This is people paying for the A 1-15 positions.    

Southwest recently (and without public notice or emailing its customer database) has raised the price on some Business Select/Upgraded boarding upgrades.

Southwest Explains Its Price Hike Decision

Upgraded Boarding allows people to pay up if they have a reason they want to get on the plane among the first groups of passengers (behind those requiring extra assistance. The prime reason to want to get on early is so you can also get off first and many people pay for the upgrade when they have tight connecting flight.

“Last year, we launched the option to secure Upgraded Boarding became available through the Southwest Mobile App and Southwest.com,” the airline shared in an email to TheStreet. “Upgraded Boarding gives customers the ability to upgrade their boarding position to A1-A15 24 hours before the flight depending on availability. This allows customers the opportunity to be among the first to board the aircraft, pick their preferred available seat, and access the overhead bin space.”

The airline used to charge between $30 and $40 per flight segment for Upgraded boarding. It has raised that figure to $50 on select flights, according to a report from The Points Guy.

“Every few years, we review the price of our services in order to align with market and operational conditions as well as uphold the quality of our offerings. Southwest has increased the price of purchasing Upgraded Boarding to $50 in a handful of our markets while others remain $30 or $40 for the service,” the airlines shared in an email to the popular travel website.


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