The economy class flying experience is not something most travelers would brag about, and with good reason: baggage fees, the dreaded middle seats and winding lines that resemble never-ending mazes all contribute to the reason why some people hate to travel.
Well, Southwest Airlines is trying to help—with the last, matter, at least—for a fee.
The airline, already famous for its festival free-for-all seating plan, is introducing a new initiative allowing flyers the coveted “A” status boarding for $40 per flight.
So what exactly does the letter printed on your boarding pass mean for your travel experience?
Southwest determines boarding status based on elite flyer status and time of check-in. The earlier you check in, the earlier you board and get first dibs on preferred seats and the increasingly harder-to-find overhead bin space. This gives passengers incentives to check in prior getting to the airport or even the actual flight date, but Southwest already charges $10 per flight for its Early Bird Check-in program, which ensures participants that they will board in either the first or second boarding group, “A” or “B.”
For last minute latecomers, don’t fret! If time is of the essence, you can still purchase premium boarding at the gate for $40 because, as we all know, time is money, and in this case, can be the difference between a middle seat and the relative comfort of an aisle seat. It essentially screws over customers unwilling to pay up.
It’s ironic—the airline that once celebrated offering flights for $40 is now charging $40 just to board first. At least Southwest still offers complimentary checked baggage, but it makes you wonder, when will that end too?
Is Southwest’s new initiative contributing to smoother travel or perpetuating the chaos? You decide.
It is frustrating, but I would rather they add optional fees than mandatory ones like so many other airlines, or raise the price. Sometimes I want luxury/comfort, and other times I want a cheap flight, so this allows the best of both worlds.