Southwest Airlines doesn’t offer Basic Economy. All of their fares all cancellation while retaining full credit towards a new ticket, and they do not charge for two checked bags. They promised not to take anything away from the lowest fares even as they rolled out a new, more expensive fare type. And that’s exactly what they’ve done.
Currently Southwest offers (3) fare types,
- Wanna Get Away cheapest, non-refundable
- Anytime refundable
- Business Select refundable, with earliest boarding positions and a free drink on board
In addition, Southwest is going to introduce a new fare type between Wanna Get Away and Anytime called “Wanna Get Away Plus.” Here’s what it adds:
- Flight credits will be transferable to book a ticket for someone else when cancelling an itinerary
- Comes with same day confirmed changes (or standby on full flights) without paying a difference in fare (similar to the current elite benefit)
- 1/3 points bonus (earn 8 points per dollar instead of 6 with the cheapest tickets)
Obviously whether it’s worth ‘buying up’ to Wanna Get Away Plus fares at time of booking will depend on how much the incremental cost is on a given itinerary, however assuming it is more then de minimis I don’t see myself doing it. Southwest, though, sees it as a play that will materially improve its revenue.
And since they want to keep people moving up the fare ladder – giving them reason to buy up to Wanna Get Away Plus, and then once they’ve made that choice consider spending even more for a refundable Anytime fare that fare type will get priority check-in, transferable credits (but who cares, these tickets are refundable) and EarlyBird boarding included. In fact customers buying Anytime fares will be ahead of those merely purchasing EarlyBird boarding.
What is interesting here is that once it’s available customers who buy the cheapest Wanna Get Away fares will be able to pay to upgrade to Wanna Get Away Plus which may make sense to do:
- prior to cancelling a ticket in order to make that ticket’s value transferable
- when you want to change to a different flight on the same day and the difference in fare between what you paid and the new flights current sale price is greater than the difference in the buy up to Wanna Get Away Plus
These new fare attributes are expected to become available towards the end of the second quarter (i.e. June).