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Southwest Airlines boosts a boarding fee

mySA logo mySA 2/23/2018 Chris McGinnis

a group of people standing in front of a window: Southwest has used numbered pillars in boarding areas for years. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Southwest has used numbered pillars in boarding areas for years. Here's the thing about Southwest Airlines' policy of not assigning seats: The first to board get the prime locations, and the last to board get the middle seats in the back-- and less overhead baggage space.

a group of people in a room: Southwest Airlines passengers at Dallas Love Field. © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Southwest Airlines passengers at Dallas Love Field.

Now Southwest is making it more expensive to go to the front of the line.

a close up of a street: Flying over California on Southwest Airlines B737 © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Flying over California on Southwest Airlines B737 A few years ago, the airline introduced an option called Upgraded Boarding, charging a last-minute fee of $30 to $40 for those who really want to get on the plane ahead of the crowd. And now it is increasing that fee to $50 in certain high-demand markets (but it hasn't said which ones).

Upgraded Boarding should not be confused with EarlyBird Check-in; that's a $15 option you pay in advance that lets you move up in the boarding scramble to a preferred line position – usually the A boarding group, but sometimes the front of the B group (Southwest has A, B and C boarding groups based on Rapid Rewards status, ticket type, and how fast you can check in online when the flight opens up). Your boarding group is displayed on your boarding pass.

a large passenger jet sitting on an airport runway: Southwest Airlines 737 at SFO in black and white © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc Southwest Airlines 737 at SFO in black and white The prime boarding positions – A 1 through 15 – are reserved for customers who buy the airline's most expensive fares, called Business Select. But if there aren't enough of those customers on a flight, Southwest will sell those peak spots at the last minute through the Upgraded Boarding option, available only at the boarding gate or at the ticket counter.

What's it like to fly Southwest? See the slideshow up top!

a group of people standing in front of a store: A line of passengers at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter on July 21, 2016, in Los Angeles, Calif. A trade group that represents U.S. airlines is protesting a proposal from the Trump administration to raise fees on airline tickets to collect nearly $3 billion. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS) © Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc A line of passengers at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter on July 21, 2016, in Los Angeles, Calif. A trade group that represents U.S. airlines is protesting a proposal from the Trump administration to raise fees on airline tickets to collect nearly $3 billion. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS) Keep in mind that it's not available on all flights, but if snagging an exit row aisle seat and guaranteed overhead bin space is really, really important to you – i.e., worth as much as $50 -- be sure to ask at the airport.


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