Southwest sues firm that sells check-in service

DALLAS (AP) -- Southwest Airlines Co. sued a company that helped customers move to the front of the boarding line, and may have convinced it to shut down.

In a lawsuit filed last week in federal district court in Dallas, the airline accused SW Software Development LLC of fraud and illegally profiting from an unauthorized service.

SW Software Development did not return messages for comment Monday. A message on its website read: "Southwest is hassling us with legal stuff, so this project is done. Sorry, folks."

Unlike most airlines, Southwest doesn't assign passengers to specific seats. Passengers board in three groups — A, B and C — and take any empty seat. To get the best seats, customers check in online beginning exactly 24 hours before the flight, or they pay $20 extra per round trip for early boarding.

Phoenix-based SW Software charged $5 per round trip to automatically check in passengers.

In 2007, a company called BoardFirst.com, which offered a similar check-in service for Southwest flights, said it was closing after Southwest convinced a federal judge in Dallas to issue a permanent injunction against it.

Southwest shares fell 22 cents, or 2.5 percent, on Monday to close at $8.74, then regained 2 cents after hours.

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