Southwest Airlines: New perk, new few

Southwest airlines gives customers option of jump to the front of the line

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DETROIT - It seems any new perk provided by an airline, comes with a new fee. Southwest Airlines is no exception as it unveils an opportunity for passengers to jump to the front of the line by paying $40.

You may already know, Southwest does not have assigned seating and passengers currently board in three groups- A, B, or C. Those with special Business Class tickets and Loyalty Club Members can board first.

Now, anyone will be able to get to the front of the line for a $40 fee. Southwest already charges $10 for its Early Bird Check-In services, which will improve a passenger's position in the line. The new boarding option can be purchases at the gate up to 45 minutes before boarding, if space is available.

The fee is one of dozens that airlines began to add to regular fares in the past five years, so many that such fees now represent 10% to 30% of all revenue for most of the nation's largest airlines.

Other new fees

The airline will start charging a "no-show" fee for passengers who fail to cancel the tickets before their flights. That charge will only be assessed to passengers who buy the lowest, most-restricted tickets.

It's a move that seems to make sense, and, since most airlines already charge fees just for changing a reservation, Southwest still might have a customer service advantage over its rivals. It has not been announced how much that fee will be, or when it will go into effect.

Baggage fee increase

Southwest also brags about allowing its passengers two checked bags for free. That policy will not change. However, the airline will charge more money for the 3rd checked bag, plus overweight or oversized luggage. That fee is going up from $50 to $70.

Also, the fee some passengers pay for the early check-in, which helps move passengers toward the front of the boarding line and assures space for their bag in the overhead bins, will increase from $10 to $12.50.

AirTran Fee Bump

Southwest's AirTran Airways subsidiary will raise its fees for checking bags to $25 for the first bag, up from $20, and to $35 for the second, up from $25.

As always when booking air travel, look for all the fees each airline charges to get the most accurate estimate of the true cost of the flight!

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