Southwest Airlines will introduce a new category of higher fares

Southwest has floated the idea of ​​adding one ticket class at least for the past few months, but a new report has finally shed light on what it could mean for frequent flyers on the Dallas-based carrier.

According to USA Today’s Dawn Gilbertson, Andrew Watterson, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Southwest, suggested that rather than the airliner providing an amenity-powered first-tier ticket, the added option will fall into below its “Business Select” and “Anytime” fare categories, but will still be a cut above the airline’s basic “Wanna Get Away” option.

Watterson told investors at a meeting in December that the as-yet-unnamed pricing package, which will appear later this year in a fourth column on the site between existing categories, would feature enhanced attributes that “the customers will gladly pay a little more” for.

“It will be an upsell for enhanced attributes,” Watterson said during the meeting.

Watterson emphasized that the new product offering would not harm existing ticket categories, and a 2021 Southwest Airlines Investor Day document described the initiative as “a new 4th product that enhances the overall product offering for customers while increasing the benefits of existing ‘Wanna Get Away’, ‘Anytime’ and ‘Business Select’.

What does this mean for real customers and what are the exact benefits of this new class of travel? It’s not entirely clear at this time, but many carrier loyalists have predicted what the new offering will contain. Guesswork on the Southwest Airlines discussion forums (they exist) offered a number of possibilities, ranging from expedited boarding to additional baggage allowances.

“My first guess is extra points,” wrote one user. “My second guess is an extra bag (in case 2 free ones aren’t enough). Maybe [early boarding] record somehow included.”

Some worry that other ticket tiers will see further reduced amenities despite the company’s statements about maintaining benefits among existing fare classes.

“I don’t think Southwest will do anything to reverse what they are known for (no change fees, luggage travels free, etc.),” ​​user ChGoFlyer wrote. “I suspect [Wanna Get Away] slightly loses benefits (maybe only 1 bag, less points gain), and [the new fare] also adds things like more flexible travel funds, higher points, and/or other perks.”

The new fare class is expected to debut between April and June of this year.