While several major U.S. airlines have rolled out basic economy for passengers, one U.S. carrier is taking a different stance.
“You’re not going to see basic economy from Southwest,” the airline’s CEO Gary Kelly said in a conference held on Thursday.
While American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta Air Lines have rolled out basic economy fares — lower fares that come without amenities such as seat selection, overhead bin space, snacks, or priority boarding — Kelly has confirmed that Southwest will not be taking the same approach.
In addition, while several carriers have raised or introduced fees for checked bags, Southwest will continue to honor its two free checked bags policy.
“We’re not going to charge for bag fees,” Kelly told a reporter. “I love the fact that we’re different, and they unbundle and we don’t; and so we just need to continue to find ways with the universe of travelers and the varying needs that they have to see how we can stay true to our brand and offer something of more value to road warriors, to once-a-year-flyers, whatever it might be.”
The airline has even playfully joked about the matter in the past, signaling its stance to its passengers.
Southwest’s commitment to avoiding basic economy fares comes at a time when popular carriers including JetBlue have jumped on the new offering due to the need to stay competitive.
While basic economy tickets often require giving up basic amenities, Alaska Airlines’ “Saver Fare” option will still allow travelers to pre-select seats and bring one personal item and one carry-on on board.
Even though major carriers have been rolling out basic fares in recent years, the concept stems back to budget airlines that have demonstrated the model's potential for much longer.