Sometimes fliers want it all—a low-cost option and some of the extras. That’s in a sense what Southwest Airlines is hoping to provide with its new fare category, Wanna Get Away Plus, which officially launched on Tuesday and marked the first major change in Southwest’s fare structure in 15 years.
What is Wanna Get Away Plus?
The new Wanna Get Away Plus fares are priced higher than Southwest’s cheapest tickets, Wanna Get Away (currently the carrier’s most popular fare category), but below the airline’s top two fare tiers, Anytime and Business Select. Executives have declined to say how much more Wanna Get Away Plus seats will cost compared with the cheaper seats—it will vary by flight.
All Southwest fares include two free checked bags and no change fees, but the Wanna Get Away Plus fares also includes a same-day standby and same-day flight change free of charge and comes with greater frequent flier points earning potential—up to eight points per dollar spent.
Additionally, Southwest is now giving those who buy a Wanna Get Away seat the option to upgrade to Wanna Get Away Plus if they want in on some of the added benefits and points. While neither Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus tickets are refundable if customers cancel, both tiers will provide travelers with a flight credit for a canceled flight. Anytime and Business Select fares are refundable.
New transferable flight credits
Southwest’s Anytime and Business Select fares got an upgrade as well and now come with transferable flight credit, which allows fliers to transfer their flight credit to someone else as long as both fliers are members of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty program. The same transferable flight credit benefit was introduced for the new Wanna Get Away Plus fare category as well.
“As travelers increasingly return to the sky, we know that added flexibility and greater choice is more important to our customers than ever before,” Jonathan Clarkson, Southwest’s vice president of marketing, loyalty, and products, said in a statement.
Priority boarding can soon be booked in advance
The news comes as Southwest just announced a slew of enhancements that are in the works for fliers, including the option to buy an upgraded boarding position in advance online, a feature that is slated to launch by late summer 2022. Southwest is known for its sometimes-controversial system of not providing assigned seating to travelers. But with this upgrade option, travelers will be able to purchase a spot in the first boarding group, positions A1-A15, when they are available.
The new boarding option is part of a $2-billion plan Southwest unveiled earlier this month to “modernize the customer experience,” which includes better WiFi connectivity on its planes; bringing power ports to every seat; larger overhead bins; and more entertainment, food and beverage options inflight.
Associated Press contributed reporting.