Changes to Southwest Airlines and AirTran Fees

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Southwest just announced that they are looking to increase some of their fees, which quite honestly are already pretty generous in my opinion. This change should not cause a huge uproar by any means, but I want you to be aware in case of them might impact you:

  • Southwest checked baggage fees: You will still get to free checked bags, so DO NOT WORRY! However, the third+ checked baggage and overweight fees are increasing. This is in effect for those who purchased their ticket on or after December 15th for travel on or after February 13th.
    • Third checked bag and any bag thereafter: Will now be a $75 fee/additional bag. It used to be $50/each for bags 3-9 and then $110/each for every bag thereafter.
    • Overweight and oversize: Will now be a $75 fee for all bags (including the first two free checked bags) over 51 lbs or more than 62″. The old fee used to be $50 per bag.
  • Southwest EarlyBird check in fee: Will now be $12.50 per passenger, where it used to be $10/passenger. I personally have never used this as I always check-in 24 hours in advance, but I know many people really liked this concept. For an extra $2.50 I do not think people will stop using it. This is in effect for those who purchased their ticket on or after December 15th for travel on or after February 13th.
  • Southwest no-show cancellation fee: In the past you could literally just not show up for your flight and afterwards request a credit for the amount spent or the points to be redeposited to your account (for award tickets). There was no fee for this, thus no reason for passengers to pay attention to cancelling their tickets. This caused many empty seats throughout the year. Going forward, they will start imposing a fee for those that do not cancel their ticket in advance. All this means is that you must cancel your ticket before the flight takes off. The fee is TBD, but I personally think this is a good business decision on Southwest’s part. This will not go into place until 2013.
  • AirTran checked baggage fees: First checked bag will cost $25 and second checked bag will cost $35. This is a decent increase over the prior cost of $20 for the first and $25 for the second. However, this now puts them in par with the rest of the checked baggage fees imposed by other airlines. This change is for all tickets purchased on or after December 15th. If you purchased your ticket previously, you are still grandfathered into the old fee structure.

I still personally think Southwest has the most generous no fee structure around and definitely wins my business most of the time due to that. I can book flights with points and cancel with no ramifications. Definitely a selling point in my book.

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