Southwest Airlines to Charge Early Boarding Fee (But Call It “EarlyBird Check-In”)

Southwest Airlines takes their first step at charging ancillary fees (just like everyone else) with the introduction of “EarlyBird Check-In,” which allows you to increase your fare by $10 in exchange for an early boarding pass.  Other airlines call this a fee, but since Southwest doesn’t charge ancillary fees (wink wink), it’s called a new service.  Good for them for using their marketing wits to spin a fee into a benefit for customers – every other airline should have done the same thing.  But it does mark the beginning of the end of their “no fee” marketing campaign (and if they do continue to say they don’t charge fees, that’s being rather disingenuous.)

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  1. I guess their big thing is that they don’t want to add fees for things that used to be free. Providing a new service and not making it free is a different thing (according to them). I sort of agree in that it would be unreasonable to expect them to offer every add-on product for free just because of their stance on other fees. Do you think their WiFi service will be free?

    Would I pay for this particular service in question? Naaa.

  2. That’s actually an interesting point. No, Wi-Fi shouldn’t be free. But they’re actually the ones who made the distinction about “fees.” The price of the ticket isn’t a fee, it’s a fare. The cost of wi-fi is the price of the service, not a fee. If bag check were called “Luggage Concierge” perhaps people would be less upset.

    The reality is, this is a fee. People don’t have to pay it, and they can call it what they will, but it’s a fee. (And I don’t blame them for introducing it…it just means their whole thing about not charging fees is no longer valid).

  3. How is the business select *fare* not a base fare plus a bunch of fees for additional features (free drink, early boarding, extra miles) then? I think we’re mincing words here.

  4. Howard N. Singer

    I used to be “nuts about SW Air” because of its no-fee policy. Sadly, that has now changed with the $10 early boarding fee. They’ve lost my loyalty. Now, rather than giving them preference in my travel plans, I’ll evaluate them along with all other airlines, which amounts to simply this: which line is less bad.

  5. I just purchased the “so called” Early-Bird-Checkin for a recent flight. I kicked back like they said and didn’t worry about checking in. OOPS! My bad. There was a screw up in their system and it didn’t check me in and I got stuck in the last boarding group. Have no worry, just call customer service right? NOT! Customer service was rude and told me it didn’t work because they made a change in their system and it was a mistake but they will give me my 10 bucks back. What the?! Isn’t this about boarding early for business, not the 10 bucks and a middle seat??? Seriously folks, check yourselves in and don’t get caught in this 50/50 gamble on a middle seat, it doesn’t always work!

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