What Southwest’s CEO Has to Say About the Airline’s Plans for Assigned Seating (Video)
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly wants to be crystal clear about one thing: Nobody is getting assigned seating any time soon.
In response to increased fuel prices, the CEO said in an earnings call last week that the airline was considering new ways of increasing revenue. It was rumored that one of those ways could be eliminating Southwest’s long-standing open-seating policy.
But, according to Kelly, there are three things Southwest has no intention of ever implementing: baggage fees, ticket change fees, and assigned seating
“Let me be very blunt,” Kelly said, according to USA Today. "We are not looking at assigning seats right now. We are not talking about assigning seats now. And we're not talking about looking at it sometime in the future.”
While other airlines have made billions by charging fees to select a seat, Kelly said that Southwest will not follow. “It ain’t happening now,” Kelly said. “And it won’t happen next year.”
It should be noted, however, that Southwest does offer an “upgraded boarding” option (for $30, $40, or $50 depending on the route), allowing passengers to pay more to be among the first to board.
In the call, Kelly revealed that flights to Hawaii will be a large part of Southwest’s 2019 strategy. Earlier this year, the airline confirmed that cheap flights from California to Hawaii are coming. Although the airline has still not disclosed a launch date, flights are expected to start later this year or early 2019.