One of the reasons fans of Southwest Airlines remain devoted to the carrier is that it’s long remained consistent in some of its signature policies: no fees to check bags, no seat assignments, and an approach to customer service that is meant to be fuss-free and friendly. But the airline has recently begun to make some changes to these long-held policies and tenets. Read on to find out the latest departure for Southwest Airlines, which is likely to come as a surprise to some longtime flyers.
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Southwest Airlines announced it is launching a new fare category called Wanna Get Away Plus. This category will join Southwest’s existing Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select fares, the carrier said in a company announcement. The fare will be available for purchase beginning late in the second quarter of this year.
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Wanna Get Away Plus will cost marginally more—a “modest buy-up,” according to the statement—but will offer more “flexibility, choice, and rewards” over Wanna Get Away. In addition to the benefits offered in every fare category (two checked bags, no change fees, free TV, movies, and messaging), Wanna Get Away Plus will offer several more perks. These include transferable flight credit, a new benefit that enables passengers to make a one-time transfer of eligible unused flight credit to a new traveler for future use.
Plus, purchases in this fare category will get more flexibility through same-day confirmed change and same-day standby, as well as more earning power with eight times the Rapid Rewards points. (Compare that with six times the points for Wanna Get Away fares.)
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Further, passengers who book refundable Anytime or Business Select fares, as well as Tier Members (which include A-List and A-List Preferred flyers), will get even more benefits. Business Select and Anytime fares will have the same transferable flight credit benefit as Wanna Get Away Plus† Anytime fares will also now get early-bird check-in, priority lane, and express lane benefits.
Tier Members will now also get same-day confirmed changes in addition to same-day standby privileges.
All of these changes across the various categories will go into effect when the new Wanna Get Away Plus option goes live later this year.
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This isn’t the first surprising shift for the change-resistant carrier in recent months. Back in February, one astute reporter at ZDNet noted that Southwest has begun, without fanfare, offering some of its tickets for sale on Kayak. While passengers have long been able to book an American, United, or Delta airline ticket on a third-party travel agent site like Kayak, Southwest has always required passengers to book directly at its own site, Southwest.com.
Previously, Southwest publicly stated the position that it would be able to offer the best customer experience if it limited ticket sales to its own platform. “By utilizing Southwest.com and our call centers, customers can rest at ease knowing that when they go to book with Southwest, they’re getting the lowest fare without any strings that online travel agencies might try to sneak in there, such as fees and restrictions,” a representative for the airline told ZDNet last year. “This is especially important as a low-cost, low-fare, high-quality airline.”
Time will tell how these tweaks affect the customer experience for Southwest flyers.
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