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Southwest increases EarlyBird registration fees, upgrades boarding

Southwest Airlines just became the latest airline to increase ancillary fees.

The Dallas-based airline was recently hacked price for two popular optional services: EarlyBird Check-in and Upgrade Boarding. This news was first reported by Danny Deal Guru and was later confirmed to TPG by an airline spokesperson.

Southwest’s updated fee structure for these products currently ranges from:

  • Early check-in: $15 to $99 one-way, per traveler
  • Upgraded boarding: $30 to $149 per segment, per traveler

While Southwest hasn’t changed the minimum amount charged for these services, they have sneakily increased the maximum amount. Previously, the airline charged up to $25 and $80 for EarlyBird check-in and Upgrade Boarding services, respectively.

The approximately 300% increase in EarlyBird enrollment and the nearly 100% increase in Upgraded Boarding mark a sharp price increase. Former airline increase these fees a year ago, so some loyal Southwest customers may feel especially upset by these changes.

It follows a broader industry-wide move to increase ancillary fees starting earlier this year, as airlines sought to increase revenue from the entire travel experience. Every major US airline increased checked baggage fees (at least once) earlier this year. Southwest famously doesn’t charge for checked bags, and combined with lackluster first-quarter financial results, the airline may be feeling the pressure to increase profits.

“This price range increase is a result of our regular evaluation of pricing for ancillary products based on market trends and customer demand,” airline spokeswoman Tiffany Valdez told TPG. products, and will also generate increased revenue to support the company.”

Southwest is also the only airline in the US that does not offer fixed seats on its planes. Rather, the seat is Available on a first come, first served basis to travelers based on when they check in for their flight. This encourages flyers to register accurately within the 24-hour window.

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Travelers who don’t want to deal with this problem can buy it Check in early, automatically holds a place in line 36 hours before departure; This way, they won’t need to register manually when the 24-hour window opens. Southwest doesn’t limit the number of EarlyBird boosts it sells per flight, so it’s not uncommon to still get a mediocre seat using this product.

That’s why Southwest also offers Upgrade Boarding. This product can be purchased at any time during check-in and allows travelers to secure one of the first 15 boarding spots. This add-on is even more expensive than an EarlyBird subscription and is only available with unsold Business Select tickets (which guarantee access to this special priority boarding).

These increased fees will be especially frustrating for groups traveling together. The airline does not offer any quantity discounts on these products and upgrades add up quickly. If you want to avoid paying these fees, it may be time to consider opening a co-branded Southwest credit card.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card And Southwest Premier Rapid Rewards® credit card offers two free EarlyBird registrations per year. The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Preferred Credit Card And Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers four upgraded boarding passes per year.

Information about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier credit card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Also, Southwest Fast Rewards A-List Elite and A-List Preferred Members Priority boarding on all flights.

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