Southwest Adds Free Standby For All Passengers, Free Wifi With Business Select Fares

Southwest Airlines hasn’t given a date beyond “soon” but all customers will be eligible to stand by for free on another flight, the way that elite, full fare, and customers who buy up to Wanna Get Away Plus fares can do. Additionally, those buying the most expensive Business Select fares (which currently includes being in the first 15 boarding positions (A1-15) and a free drink) will receive free inflight wifi as well.

Here’s the new matrix of benefits at each fare, showing free standby for the lowest fare and free wifi for the highest fare. Notably, free wifi includes up to 3 devices.

Free standby is increasingly standard flexibility, so Southwest presumably feels they need to offer it in order to remain competitive. And they’re adding the ability to stand by using the carrier’s website and mobile app.

At the same time, this actually reduces the differentiation between the cheapest fare and the next-higher fare class that Southwest wants customers to buy up to. It seems like they need to improve the package of benefits for Wanna Get Away.

Similarly, free wifi is something that Delta and JetBlue offer, and something that United has said they want to offer (but doesn’t currently have the bandwidth for, since free means more people use the service). Southwest is in the process of improving its wifi, so they’re on a path to where more people should be able to use it. Adding this not just to Business Select fares but Anytime and Wanna Get Away Plus seems like it could be both a middle ground and way to further differentiate the buy up fare type which is losing standby as an incremental perk.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Southwest had this benefit many, many years ago, and then stopped it. One time, in the mid 1990s I was flying from Albuquerque to Los Angeles. I got to the airport early and asked Southwest if I could get on an earlier flight. They said no, so I waited the four hours until my flight time. That flight happened to be overbooked, and Southwest ended up giving award seats away. It’s always stupid to pushback with an empty seat if there is a paying customer willing to take it.

  2. Boarding positions A1-A15 do not mean a whole lot if there a dozen people who “require” “assisted boarding”.

  3. @ozfred – exactly. Flew SW for first time in years last spring DEN-JAX and back (wanted non-stop and UA was more expensive and at wrong time). The lack of assigned seats had dozens of people preboarding to get a good seat. It was very frustrating to see how it was handled. Unless they are practically giving away the tickets I will never fly SW again. Of course lifetime elite on AA, DL and UA so have some incentives to go with them if possible. Still the boarding experience w SW was a true cluster and the worst I have seen in years.

  4. I never understood why “standby” is viewed as a perk just for the passenger, and not the airline. As @WileyDog ‘s story shows, a future empty seat has option value, while a current empty seat does not. Best to get a passenger on his/her way now.

  5. Does WN let you SDC to the last seat or are there buckets? I don’t really get who’s buying Plus at this point.

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