Southwest Airlines adds free standby to cheapest fares

For an all-inclusive airline, Southwest actually has a lot of pricing tiers.

Any fare on Southwest comes with your checked bags and a carry-on included. That’s actually a major change compared to how similarly priced JetBlue Airlines (JBLU) – Get Free Report operates. That carrier does allow carry-on bags that can go in the overhead bins for people holding its cheapest tickets, but checking a bag will cost those customers extra.

DON’T MISS: Report: Southwest Airlines making huge boarding process change

Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Get Free Report actually offers four different types of fares:

Business Select: The top-tier fare comes with priority boarding and it’s fully refundable as well as more frequent flyer miles.Anytime: This fare offers nearly everything Business Select does except for a guaranteed position in the first 15 spots in the A boarding group (but you do get Early Bird check-in). It’s also fully refundable and comes with more, but slightly less the Business Select, frequent flyer miles.  Wanna Get Away Plus: This does not come with priority boarding but it does offer same-day flight changes and same-day standby. Wanna Get Away: The cheapest Southwest Airlines fare does not offer same-day changes or standby without the possibility of the cost of your flight going up. Basically, you can still make changes, but you will pay any fare difference.  

Now, at a time when the airline is examining a lot of its operations, it’s actually making a major change to its cheapest Wanna Get Away fares.

Southwest Airlines is making a lot of changes after its holiday meltdown.

Image source: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Southwest makes a change people will like 

Wanna Get Away fares are generally the most-booked tickets on Southwest because they are the cheapest and people rarely book travel expecting their plans to change. In addition, because the airline allows changes up to the day of the flight (with the passenger paying any difference in price, but also getting credited if the price goes down) Southwest passengers generally don’t feel the need to pay for higher-class fares. 

But, when your plans change, not being able to fly standby on the day of your flight without paying an often considerable price difference can be frustrating. Perhaps a meeting got canceled or you just got to the airport early, not being able to put your name in for an open seat without paying more makes people angry.

Now, Southwest shared some good news on the former Twitter (now X) for its Wanna Get Away passengers.

“Big changes coming soon! And by changes, we mean free same-day standby for all Customers, free Inflight Internet for Business Select fares, and more! Stay tuned!” the airline posted.

That solves a pain point for customers and gives a nice perk to its highest-paying passengers. Southwest recently changed its internet fees from $8 per 24 hours to $8 per flight segment. 

Southwest has not said how it will prioritize standby passengers. Currently, top-tier loyalty rewards members and higher paying passengers get the first shot at any available seats.        

Southwest making a change people won’t like

Southwest recently changed its pre-flight process and won’t sell Early Bird Check-in on some flights. Paying for Early Bird automates the check-in process so passengers don’t have to go to the airline’s website or app 24 hours before their flight. It also generally gets you a spot in A boarding group (although that’s not guaranteed.

The airline confirmed the change in an email to TheStreet.

“On Aug. 10, we shared with our employees that beginning Aug. 15, Early Bird Check-In will be subject to availability on certain flights, routes, or days, and that will mean Early Bird Check-In is unavailable for some customers looking to purchase it. Many initiatives are underway across the company to modernize the customer experience and win more Customers. This focus brings an opportunity to evolve our fare and ancillary products while maintaining the value they bring to our customers,” a company spokesperson wrote.


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