Southwest Airlines has resisted a basic economy fare class for years. But with competition fierce, is Southwest reconsidering?
Earlier this year, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly promised:
“You’re not going to see basic economy from Southwest. That’s not what we do.”
In the past, Kelly has said “there is no second class” on Southwest Airlines.
But a recent e-mail survey sent to travelers has left many wondering if Southwest might soon add no-frills fares.
Southwest has a Customer Advisory Council. As described by Southwest, the council provides a forum for feedback with interested customers:
Southwest Airlines’ panel of trusted advisors made up of Customers like yourself. This is a place for you to interact with other Southwest Customers, and share your opinions, thoughts, and ideas with the goal of helping to shape the future of our airline.
Southwest currently has three fare main classes:
- Business Select
- Wanna Get Away
(within those fare classes, prices for a particularly flight may greatly vary)
All fares, however, include two checked bags and do not carry a change fee.
A member of the Customer Advisory Council shared on Flyertalk a survey he took from Southwest that hinted at a fourth fare class and asked for feedback on the following combination of names:
- Wanna Get the Most, Wanna Get More, Wanna Get Away + and Wanna Get Away
- Complete Freedom, Freedom, Wanna Get Away Plus, Wanna Get Away
- Freedom & More, Freedom, WGA Plus, WGA
- Go Ultimate, Go Anytime, Wanna Flex, Wanna Get Away
What Would Basic Economy On Southwest Look Like?
Southwest would never call basic economy “basic economy”, but what might a lower fare class look like? I’d imagine it would never be like United, which doesn’t even allow a free carry-on bag onboard.
Instead, I would imagine a number of possibilities:
- One free checked bag instead of two
- No free changes (and perhaps no changes at all)
- Reduced point earnings
I’d wager that Wanna Get Away Plus would subsume the current Wanna Get Away fare class and the new Wanna Get Away class might include some or all of the restrictions above. I don’t think (even for a moment) Southwest would dare ever totally eliminate free bags, especially as it has knocked other airlines for doing so for a decade. Even with one free bag, Southwest could still call itself an industry leader in not nickel and diming.
We should not read too much into one survey. Still, the fact that Southwest would send it means a fourth fare class is at least under consideration. Basic Economy fares are merely a money grab by the airlines. Fares do not become cheaper: instead the cheapest fares simply have less benefits than before. Be on the lookout in 2020 for a possible fourth fare class from Southwest.
Would you support a “basic economy” equivalent fare class from Southwest?