Southwest Is Making a Major Change to Its Boarding Process


Southwest Airlines is infamously known for its rather chaotic boarding process in which no passenger is assigned a seat ahead of time.

But after teasing potential changes during a Q1 2024 earnings call in April, it appears the airline has quietly begun offering higher fees in exchange for passengers being able to pre-select their seats.

Multiple outlets are reporting that the airline has upped fees for an “upgraded boarding” option, which allows earlier boarding for passengers who pay, meaning they have a higher likelihood of snagging a better seat by getting on the plane earlier.

Related: Southwest Airlines CEO Says the Company May Start Assigning Seats

The fees have increased from $30 to $149 extra per ticket, up from an $80 maximum before the change-up.

“Upgraded Boarding” passengers are given seating assignments in A1 to A15, and can only choose to upgrade 24 hours or less before the flight takes off.

Another fee that’s been increased is the “early bird check-in” which now ranges from $15 to $99 (it was previously capped at $25), which puts passengers in an earlier boarding group, thus giving them a better chance at a better seat.

During an interview with CNBC in April, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told the outlet that potential changes were on the horizon after a rough quarterly loss of nearly $231 million.

“We’re looking into new initiatives, things like the way we seat and board our aircraft,” Jordan told the outlet at the time. “Customer preferences do change over time.”

Related: Southwest Airlines makes big operational changes after 2024 financial report

Despite the mounting losses, Southwest was still able to bring in $6.3 billion in operating revenue during Q1, which was the highest Q1 operating revenue in the company’s history, and a 10.9% increase year over year.

Southwest was down just over 7% year over year as of Thursday morning.



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