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Simple Flying
The airline is also eyeing changes to its fare bundles to include different levels of flexibility and seat area selections for travelers

With low-cost carriers in the US struggling to compete against the more premium-heavy full-service carriers, Southwest Airlines is reportedly going to almost completely overhaul its fare structure, enabling customers to book three different cabin classes while reducing flexibility for its cheapest tickets.


Three separate cabins

According to a report by One Mile At A Time, which cited leaked information from customer focus group meetings. The meetings included technological demonstrations of how the new cabins and fares would work from the customers’ point of view.

As such, the outlet outlined that Southwest Airlines plans to split its all-economy seat cabin, where passengers can choose to sit at will once they have boarded the aircraft, into three sections. The first section, allegedly branded as ‘Premium/Premier,’ would cost between $50 and $75 for a seat assignment within this section.

The subsequent two cabin sections would be branded ‘Select’ and ‘Standard,’ with seat assignments in these areas of the aircraft setting back passengers as much as $30 to $50 and $15 to $25, respectively.

Currently, Southwest Airlines only groups passengers before they board the aircraft into three groups, namely A, B, and C. Families with children that are six or younger can board the aircraft between groups A and B, while people with disabilities may preboard the aircraft to sit at a specific seat.

Onboard, passengers can choose where to sit at will. However, the carrier also offers travelers the ability to pre-purchase an upgraded boarding position 24 hours before a flight, with passengers upgrading to a boarding position between A1 and A15. Southwest Airlines also offers the EarlyBird Check-In service, starting at $15, which automatically checks in passengers, offering a better boarding position and, subsequently, earlier access to seats and overhead bins.

Is Southwest Airlines Still A Low-Fare Carrier?


Evolving fare packages

The outlet also reported that Southwest Airlines was looking at adjusting the four fare bundles it currently offers to its customers: Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, and Business Select. The cheapest fare, Wanna Get Away, would not include seat assignments and offer no flexibility, not allowing travelers to make any changes to the booking.

Wanna Get Away Plus customers would have free ticket changes and would be able to select seats in the ‘Standard’ cabin for free, while those who have purchased an Anytime ticket would be able to choose between ‘Standard’ or ‘Select’ seats. Lastly, Business Select passengers would have full ticket flexibility, seat selection from all three new cabin sections, and free early boarding. All four fares would still be able to get two free checked bags.


Financial underperformance

When Southwest Airlines announced its Q1 2024 results, the airline cited Bob Jordan, the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the airline, who admitted that the carrier’s executives had to address its financial underperformance while also adjusting for revised aircraft delivery schedules.

Furthermore, Jordan added that Southwest Airlines’ Q1 revenue performance was short of its aspirations, yet it was still record-breaking for the first three months of the year.

While Simple Flying has contacted Southwest Airlines to confirm whether the airline had focus group sessions, that does not mean that the carrier would implement these changes into its operations. However, if it were to do so, would you rate these passenger experience adjustments positively or negatively?

Jun 11, 2024

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