Southwest Airlines Priority Fees Airplane
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Southwest passengers may now have to pay more if they want to get a good seat.

This month, the airline increased the fees for its upgraded boarding program. Travelers who want to be first on the plane — and who did not pre-purchase an upgrade — could now pay up to $50 to board early on “high demand” routes, a Southwest spokesperson told The Republic.

Southwest allows passengers to board in the order in which they checked in, making seat selection first come, first serve. The upgraded boarding program allows them to advance in the check-in ranks.

Southwest first introduced upgraded boarding in 2013 for $40. The service is only available for purchase at the airport and allows passengers to scoop up Business Select tickets that were not pre-sold. In 2015, the airline added a $30 option for select flights. Earlier this month, Southwest’s website advertised that customers would pay either $30, $40 or $50 for upgraded boarding, depending on the route.

“Every few years, we review the price of our services in order to align with market and operational conditions as well as uphold the quality of our offerings,” an airline spokesperson told Travel + Leisure in a statement. “Southwest has increased the price of purchasing Upgraded Boarding to $50 in a handful of our markets while others remain $30 or $40 for the service.”

The airline did not reveal which routes would be affected by the change.

Business Select passengers are the first 15 people to board Southwest flights (boarding numbers A1 through A15). Passengers also have the option to buy Early Bird Check-In for $15 when they purchase their tickets, ensuring that they are among the first people to select their seats on the airplane.