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Southwest is about to add a fare category with more perks

Date: March 24, 2022

By Nathan Diller, Washington Post

Southwest Airlines will add a fare category in the coming months, the carrier said Thursday, a step up from its lowest-cost ticket.

Wanna Get Away Plus will offer travelers perks such as more Rapid Rewards points at eight points per dollar, higher than its basic fare category, and the ability to transfer eligible unused flight credits to another customer.

Customers will also be able to get a confirmed seat on a different flight on the day of travel at no charge if a seat is available between the same cities, or on same-day standby if flights are full (with Wanna Get Away, the airline’s basic ticket, customers are on the hook for any fare difference).

A full list of features can be found here. The category, which the airline has been teasing for months, marks the airline’s first fare launch since 2007.

The addition of the category will bring changes to the airline’s higher-cost fares as well. Both the Business Select and Anytime categories — which are refundable, along with other benefits — will get the same transferrable flight-credit feature.

The airline will also add perks to Anytime, such as Priority Lane access and EarlyBird Check-In, which gives customers a better position when boarding and is particularly useful since Southwest does not assign seats.

EarlyBird is sold separately and can run from $15 to $25 each way. Business Select customers already get access to priority boarding positions. The Wanna Get Away fare category’s features will not change.

Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said during a briefing that “success in this effort will be twofold. One, customer satisfaction with the expanded product selection, and then financial benefit to the company from a modest percentage of customers buying up to the new and improved products.”

In recent years, airlines have increasingly divided seats up into categories with different perks and a complex variety of names. Most U.S. airlines now have some version of basic economy and economy, and perks vary by carrier for each fare category.

Watterson stressed that for Southwest, the changes to come will mark added offerings. “We’re not taking anything away,” he said.

Executives declined to specify pricing, citing regulatory restrictions, but Jonathan Clarkson, vice president of marketing, loyalty and products, said the increase to Wanna Get Away Plus would be “modest.” The airline did not announce a date for the changes, but Clarkson said they would take place in the latter part of this year’s second quarter.

Watterson noted Thursday that the Wanna Get Away fare “remains our cornerstone, and we expect it to continue to be the majority of our purchases.”

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