It's a whole new world on Southwest.
Passengers flying Southwest Airlines can now upgrade their seats online ahead of their flight — for a fee.
The new option, which the airline first announced this spring as part of a series of upgrades to the flight experience, allows customers to improve their boarding number through Southwest’s website or mobile app when checking in for a flight, according to the company. Upgraded boarding can only be purchased within 24 hours of a flight’s departure time and sales end 30 minutes before departure.
The new feature was rolled out on Monday, a Southwest spokesperson confirmed to
Previously, upgraded boarding had to be purchased at the airport.
"We announced our commitment in May to enhance our entire Customer Experience, from shopping and booking flights, to check-in, traveling onboard, and to the arrival at the destination," the spokesperson told T+L. "As part of this transformation, Customers now will be able to skip a line and go online to secure an Upgraded Boarding spot."
Customers who do purchase this feature, which starts at $30 per segment, receive a boarding assignment position from A1 to A15. They then become the first customers to board an aircraft and have first dibs on the seat they want as well as on overhead bin space.
While customers in all fare classes — including “Anytime,” “Wanna Get Away,” and the newest available “Wanna Get Away Plus” — are able to purchase this upgrade, it is already included with Business Select seats.
Beyond the upgraded boarding option, Southwest also offers an “EarlyBird Check-In,” which will automatically check customers in for their flight before the typical 24-hour check-in period, also ensuring a more desirable boarding slot. This option, which starts at $15 per one-way flight, can be purchased up to 36 hours before a flight’s scheduled departure.
Southwest doesn’t assign seats and offers “open seating,” instead assigning travelers a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a position (1 through 60 or more) when they check in, according to the airline.
In addition to moving the upgraded boarding process online, Southwest plans to install other modern amenities like USB A and USB C power ports at every seat and larger overhead bins, as well as upgrade its Wi-Fi.
Currently, Southwest has put fall and winter tickets on sale starting as low as $59 each way. The sale, which must be booked by 11:59 p.m. CT on Aug. 26, is good for travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from Sept. 6 through Feb. 15, 2023.