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Southwest Airlines Increases Priority Boarding Fees

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James Larounis

James Larounis

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Countries Visited: 30U.S. States Visited: 35

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury

Keri Stooksbury


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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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If you’re a regular flyer of Southwest, you know that the airline has a much different boarding procedure than other airlines and that in order to be one of the very first to board the plane, you either need to be on a Business Select fare or purchase an Upgraded Boarding group. These first few positions on the plane have first dibs on seats on the plane. Southwest has now increased the fee to pay for these first spots in line, as first reported by View from the Wing.

Southwest’s Boarding Procedure

On Southwest, you’re not assigned a specific seat on the plane when you book your ticket. Instead, you’re assigned a boarding group number when you check in, anywhere from A15 to C60, and this indicates the time you’re allowed to board the plane. Those that board first get the first chance at the best seats on the plane, such as the bulkhead or exit rows, and those in later boarding groups likely will have no choice but to sit in a middle seat.

It will now cost you more to be one of the first to board Southwest planes. Image Credit: Southwest Airlines

The first few boarding groups, A1-15 are reserved for Business Select, Southwest’s version of a business-class type fare, where it’s assumed you’ll get a decent seat on the plane. Seats that don’t sell for Business Select are sold to other passengers, and you could (prior to May 15, 2023) purchase one of the Upgraded Boarding positions from between $15 and $60, depending on the flight length.

Hot Tip:

One of the downsides of Southwest’s boarding procedure is that you miss out if you’re late to boarding. If you arrive after your boarding group has been called, you board with whatever group that is currently boarding and will likely lose out on the best seats onboard.

New Prices

Southwest is raising the cost to purchase one of these Upgraded Boarding positions to between $30 and $80, a significant increase over previous amounts. This means that you’ll pay double on short routes, such as Boston (BOS) to Baltimore (BWI), and even more for long routes, such as Baltimore (BWI) to Los Angeles (LAX).

If you’re interested in complimentary Upgraded Boarding passes, consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card as both offer 4 Upgraded Boarding certificates per year as a card benefit.

Final Thoughts

These Upgraded Boarding spots are super valuable as you essentially have the best pick of seats on the plane, but it will now cost even more to secure one of these seats. Prepare to pay more if you want a better seat on Southwest.

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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