Southwest is offering more flexibility and amenities to passengers — here's what you can expect from your next flight

·5 min read
Southwest Airlines.
Elliott Cowand Jr/Shutterstock
  • Southwest Airlines is upgrading its customer experience with better WiFi, power ports, and new alcohol options.

  • The airline also added a new fare class called Wanna Get Away Plus, offering customers more flexibility.

  • All passengers traveling on Southwest get inflight amenities, two free checked bags, and an unassigned seat.

Southwest Airlines is the largest US domestic carrier, flying to over 100 destinations in the US, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate.KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Southwest Airlines

Dubbing itself the "LUV airline," Southwest is laser-focused on the customer experience, boasting a colorful brand, funny cabin crews, and two free checked bags.

Southwest flight attendant.
Southwest Airlines

In fact, the carrier has been so successful in creating its product [that] analyst firm J.D. Power named Southwest the best airline for economy class.

Southwest Airlines.
Jimmy Rooney/Shutterstock

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Continuing its customer-centric business model, the company is investing $2 billion in new inflight features and technologies to create "the next generation of customer experience."

Southwest Airlines.
Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines

Specifically, the airline is upgrading its onboard WiFi, adding power ports to its 737 MAX aircraft, doubling its inflight movie offerings, installing larger overhead bins, and expanding its alcoholic drinks menu.

Southwest Airlines power port rendering.
Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines

The airline also recently added a brand new fare class called Wanna Get Away Plus. The new option is a step above Southwest's basic economy equivalent, Wanna Get Away, and is about $30 more, according to USA Today.

Southwest Airlines Wanna Get Away Plus.
Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines, USA Today

Unlike Wanna Get Away, the Plus version allows for same-day flight changes and same-day standby with no additional cost. Moreover, travelers accrue rewards points, and flight credit can be transferred to another person for future use.

Southwest Airlines Wanna Get Away Plus.
Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines

With the coming enhancements and new fare options, Southwest has a lot to offer customers. Here’s what passengers can expect flying on the LUV airline.

Southwest Airlines.
Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Southwest has two main ways to book flights — on its website, or via its mobile app. Fares are not posted on third-party websites like Google Flights or Kayak, so you have to book directly through the airline.

Southwest Airlines mobile app.
Brenda Rocha - Blossom/Shutterstock

When booking, customers can choose from four fare options, including Wanna Get Away, the newest Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, and Business Select. All types come with a carry-on, two checked bags, and no change or cancellation fees.

Southwest fare types.
Southwest fare types.Southwest Airlines

Regardless of the fare, all passengers will also get inflight snacks and drinks and free entertainment on their personal devices.

Southwest Airlines inflight entertainment.
Southwest Airlines

In addition to the fares, customers who purchase the Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fares can also choose to add on extra conveniences, like boarding priority and automatic check-in to help them get a good seat.

Southwest Airlines counter.
V_E/Shutterstock

Southwest is unique when it comes to boarding. Instead of assigned seats, the carrier has an open seating policy that is first-come-first-serve.

Southwest.
Joni Hanebutt/Shutterstock

Source: Southwest Airlines

This is accomplished by giving each customer a boarding position based on their check-in time, which ranges from A1 to C60+. The earlier you check in, the higher the position, and the better chance you have at getting the seat you want.

Southwest.
Southwest boarding groups.Thomas Trompeter/Shutterstock

Source: Southwest Airlines

However, the dreaded C boarding position is what frequent fliers refer to as "center," meaning you're likely to get stuck in a middle seat.

Southwest Airlines.
Poles show where to line up for boarding.Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: Southwest Airlines

While some people don't care where they sit, for-purchase options like EarlyBird or guaranteed A1-A15 priority are useful for some travelers.

Southwest
Southwest passengers boarding a flight.George Burns/Shutterstock

EarlyBird starts at $15 one-way depending on the route, and will automatically check in passengers 36 hours before their flight — 12 hours earlier than regular ticketed customers.

Southwest
Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines

This is automatically included in the Anytime fare, which gets priority over those who purchased EarlyBird with a Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fare.

Southwest Airlines.
Passengers boarding a Southwest flight.Thomas Pallini/Insider

Meanwhile, passengers can also purchase A1-A15, when available, by talking to a gate agent. The perk starts at $30 one-way, guaranteeing access to a good seat and overhead bin space. Business Select passengers are automatically queued for A1-A15.

Southwest A1-A15.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: Southwest Airlines

For all other passengers, boarding priority is all about check-in time, so ensure you set an alarm to start the process exactly 24 hours before departure.

Southwest Airlines.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

As far as Southwest's onboard product, it is considered one of the best in the industry, according to a study from WalletHub that scored it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Southwest Airlines.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

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The carrier has a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft, including -700s, -800s, and the MAX, that have been configured with all-economy cabins.

Southwest Airlines pilots.
Mike Stewart/AP Photos

According to SeatGuru, the -700 plane offers 31 inches of pitch, the -800 and MAX offer 32-33 inches of pitch, and the exit rows have extra legroom. All seats have at least 17 inches of width, while some seats also come with headrests.

Southwest Airlines.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: SeatGuru

Onboard, Southwest offers WiFi for purchase, free inflight entertainment and texting, and complimentary snacks and drinks.

A Southwest Airlines airplane takes off in front of a blue sky
A Southwest Airlines plane taking off.Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images

WiFi costs $8 per device, while free messaging includes iMessage and WhatsApp. Southwest also offers free movies, shows, and live on-demand TV, as well as music through iHeartRadio.

Southwest Airlines.
Mark Matousek/Insider

Source: Southwest Airlines

Snacks change throughout the year, but passengers can expect things like peanuts, almonds, or pretzels. Southwest does not offer any buy-onboard food options and only water is served on routes shorter than 175 miles, like Baltimore to Norfolk or Austin to Houston.

Southwest Airlines.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Source: Southwest Airlines

Drinks include soda, tea, coffee, water, and alcohol. Beer, wine, and spirits can be bought for $6-$7.

Southwest Airlines.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

As part of its customer upgrades, alcoholic drinks like a bloody Mary mix, a "ready-to-drink cocktail," hard seltzer, and rose wine will be available starting in September.

Southwest Airlines.
Some of Southwest's drink options.Southwest Airlines

Source: Southwest Airlines

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