- Southwest Airlines unveiled a new fare category called Wanna Get Away Plus, which will be more expensive than its current cheapest ticket.
- A major benefit of Wanna Get Away Plus is the ability to transfer flight credits, which Southwest Travel Fund calls.
- Another benefit of the new hire? Ability to switch to a different flight on the day of travel at no cost if a seat is available.
Southwest Airlines passengers sitting on travel credit from a canceled trip often ask the airline if they can use them for tickets for someone else.
The airline’s answer is always the same: a great number, as is the case with most airlines.
“Looks like the money I’ve already paid should be usable,” said a passenger hoping to transfer the credit to his son. Tweet for the airline in early March. “Hopefully you can fix this weird policy.”
Southwest is about to change policy — for a price.
The airline on Thursday unveiled details of its long-awaited new fare category, its first since 2007, and a key benefit being the ability to transfer flight credits, which Southwest Travel Fund calls.
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Southwest Wanna Get Away Plus Ticket vs Wanna Get Away
The option will be included for passengers who purchase a new ticket type, called Wanna Get Away Plus, which will be more expensive than its current cheapest ticket, Wanna Get Away. The airline is offering this and other perks to make passengers pay more for their tickets.
“It’s a pain point that a lot of our customers relay, especially on leisure travel,” said Jonathan Clarkson, Southwest’s vice president of marketing, loyalty and products. “They have money that they are either running out of time to use or they don’t have the ability to use or they want someone else to use them but there is no easy way to transfer. “
Southwest did not disclose how much more passengers would typically pay for a Wanna Get Away Plus ticket compared to a Wanna Get Away ticket, other than only calling the increase “moderate.” The upsell price won’t be known until the airline rolls out the new fare lineup, which is expected by the end of June.
“I think we’ll see a significant percentage of our customers buy up to Wanna Get Away Plus,” Clarkson said.
Transfer options are also being added to the airline’s priceless tickets called Anytime and Business Select, but those tickets are already refundable, so the benefit isn’t as significant.
Can you switch to an earlier flight in Southwest?
The new Wanna Get Away Plus tickets will include another key benefit that the airline says will entice passengers to buy: the ability to switch to a different flight on the day of travel, if seats are available (confirmed or standby).
The airline’s Wanna Get Away tickets offer same-day changes when available, but passengers must pay any fare difference, which can be significant at the last minute.
“If there’s one thing we’ve all learned during the pandemic, it’s that plans change,” Clarkson said, “and both of these elements give customers the opportunity to adapt.
Watterson called the same-day change option a “substantial benefit” to commuters, especially business travelers.
He said, “You arrive at 5 o’clock and you want to go to the earlier flight. You can make changes when seats are available.”
What is early bird check-in for Southwest?
The upcoming ticket changes announced Thursday weren’t limited to the unveiling of Wanna Get Away Plus, a name a Southwest customer survey covered when it was researching new fare categories a few years ago.
The airline’s Anytime Tickets have new features, notably the addition of Southwest’s EarlyBird check-in. EarlyBird Check-in, which provides travelers with superior boarding conditions in Southwest’s unique open seating arrangement, is currently only sold separately. The airline charges $15 to $25 per person per flight.
The EarlyBird option, which automatically assigns passenger boarding positions 12 hours prior to the start of Southwest’s standard online check-in, will still be available for purchase with a Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away ticket, according to the airline. officials said. (Business Select tickets already cover the airline’s most coveted boarding positions.) The product is a big money-maker for Southwest, which brought in more than $400 million a year before the pandemic.
Any time ticket buyers are automatically added to the Earlybird pool, and those who buy Earlybird check in before, shouldn’t Southwest passengers paying for the product lose ground in search of the best possible seat. Needed?
Clarkson and Watterson insist that any changes will be minor.
“It probably only adds a couple (k) of boarding positions to the average boarding position,” Clarkson said.
Watterson said few ever ticket buyers have already paid for Earlybird.
“You can easily see a case where it doesn’t change that number very much because now they get it for free,” he said, adding that Southwest will continue to manage the number of Earlybird slots sold. .
Are Southwest flights refundable?
Notwithstanding the flexibility of new Wanna Get Away Plus tickets, those tickets and Wanna Get Away tickets are non-refundable. Passengers will receive a credit that can be used within 12 months of the ticket purchase date.
The only Southwest fare that will be refundable, meaning travelers can get their money back, remains the commercial choice and value of the ever fare.
The story continues below.
Does Southwest have a basic economy?
Watson has said for months that changes to Southwest’s fare structure won’t take anything away from travelers, that is, by making Wanna Get Away tickets more like basic economy tickets or no-frills tickets from budget airlines.
The airline delivered on that promise on Thursday with no changes to its most popular ticket. Passengers will still receive frequent flyer miles, two free bags and no ticket change fee with other existing perks.
“Nothing is being taken away from Wanna Get Away. It’s still the product that customers know and love,” Clarkson said. “This is counter to non-customer-focused industry trends of removing profit … and forcing customers to purchase a less punitive product.”