Southwest Airlines early boarding now sold at the gate

Skift Take

Bags Fly Free on Southwest, but everything else, including your place in the boarding line, is now up for sale.

— Dennis Schaal

Southwest Airlines already offered a couple of different early boarding options, but today it added another as the airline began selling A boarding group — the first group boarding — positions at the gate for $40 per flight.

Skift reported more than a month ago that Southwest intended to add this new boarding option, which it tested in San Diego in December.

Starting 45 minutes before a flight, if Southwest hasn’t already filled its group A boarding positions, the airline will announce at the gate that these positions are available for sale.

This move is a way for Southwest to increase its fee revenue.

If no A boarding positions are available, then these positions obviously won’t be sold. Southwest boards in groups, and no seats are reserved. The earlier you board, the best seat choices you have, and there is the opportunity to put your bags in overhead bins without worrying that they will already be filled.

“At Southwest, we have developed boarding options that fit a variety of our customers’ needs — from EarlyBird Check-In to our Business Select Fare,” says Kevin Krone, Southwest’s vice president of marketing, sales and distribution. “Offering customers the option to improve their boarding position on day of travel is one more way we can offer the travel experience that best fits their needs.”

Southwest already offers EarlyBird check-in for $10 per flight. Passengers paying the extra $10 can check in 36 hours before the flight — 12 hours sooner than other passengers — and therefore they have a better chance of securing early boarding positions, and getting better seats.

Passengers who pay for Business Select Fares are guaranteed boarding positions in the A1 to A15 group, and also get a “premium beverage” on board.

Business Select Fares vary by flight and day of travel.

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