Southwest Airlines has long offered EarlyBird pricing, originally $10 per flight and then increased to $15 per flight as it is now. EarlyBird automatically checks you in ahead of everyone else, aside from those with Business Select tickets or those who hold Elite Status with Southwest, to give you an earlier boarding position and thus a better choice of seats.
Southwest is once again changing the pricing for this feature, which will now be tiered with pricing at $15, $20 and $25 per flight.
Southwest will set the fee based on the popularity of that route and how popular EarlyBird is for that route.
A post on the Southwest community says that once the price is set for that route, it will not change based on day of week or which way you are going. Though, they say, they may update the pricing from time to time to reflect the popularity.
Why the Price Increase?
While an increase in price is never great news, I think the idea here is that so many people were using EarlyBird that it was starting to become ineffective.
For example, you are checked in for EarlyBird based on WHEN you purchased EarlyBird, so the earlier you purchase it the better.
If you purchase it just a week before your flight (you can’t purchase it any later than 36 hours prior to a flight), you will be at the end of the line and may not even end up in the first, A, boarding zone. Larry G. confirms that he’s ended up in the B boarding zone several times after purchasing EarlyBird and my husband has been in the back of A many times, as well.
Has this happened to you?
I think people were finding that frustrating. While EarlyBird is NO guarantee of A boarding order, some people assume that it is.
So by raising fees, less people will likely purchase it on popular routes, allowing those who DO purchase it to have a better chance of getting in the A boarding zone.
Got questions about EarlyBird? Check out my FAQs:
When Will This Take Effect?
The new rules take effect August 29, so GO BUY YOUR EARLYBIRDS NOW for any flights you have booked before prices increase!
New Southwest Priority Card Can Help Offset These Fees!
This is yet another reason to get the new Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card, as it offers, among other great benefits, a $75 credit each year that you CAN use to purchase EarlyBird check-in. This will help offset the pain of the increased pricing 🙂
Remember, the 40,000-65,000 point offer for the Southwest Priority Card ENDS Thursday, August 22, so grab it now if you can! Here’s everything you need to know about the card:
- Full Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card Review
- 10 Reasons to Add the Southwest Priority Card to Your Wallet
- How the Priority Card Fits into a Southwest Companion Pass Strategy
You can only hold ONE personal Southwest card now and you can’t earn the bonus on this card if you’d earned a personal Southwest card bonus in the last 24 months, but even if you have I think it’s worth getting anyway for the perks.
If you already have a personal Southwest card, you can either cancel it an re-apply for the Priority card to get the bonus or simply call the number on the back of your card to see if you can upgrade. You will need to have held your current personal card for at least 12 months in order to upgrade to Priority.
THANK YOU for using my TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS links in the main menu above for ALL your credit card applications to help support the blog so I can continue to bring you great information free. You can also use the Compare Cards link below. Note: The Priority card is under Airline Cards and then you’ll have to scroll down and click “See More Cards” to find it. They’ve buried it a bit for some reason!
EarlyBird check-in pricing is going up on some routes to as much as $25 per way. Grab your EarlyBird check-ins for any flights you have booked BEFORE August 29 when prices may increase!
What do you think of the new pricing?
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