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.