Southwest announced some pretty major changes yesterday designed to attract more business travelers to the carrier. The major points:
A new "business select" fare will be added. For an additional $10-$30, you get to board first, receive double Rapid Rewards points (on flights longer than 750 miles; 1.25 points for flights less than 750 miles), fully refundable tickets, free same-day standby, and a drink.
In addition, anyone who has flown 16 round trips in a year will always be permitted to board in the first group.
On the back end, they’re roughly doubling the number of fares on each route, which they believe will get average fares a bit higher. But passengers will actually only be shown 3 fares (a low, middle and high) when they search online, rather than the far more confusing 8 that they used to see.
Does this sound like Southwest is creating an "elite" class like most other airlines? Sure does. Southwest has been a business-focused carrier for a while (despite their image as a laid back leisure airline). I think this will help grab some of that traffic that was going to the majors because frequent flyers hated the boarding process.