New Southwest policy: $40 for better boarding pass

Southwest recently added a new way to board early. Customers can pay $40 to board in an available Business Select space (A1-15) within 45 minutes of a flight. So let’s say there are only 6 Business Select customers on a flight, and A7-15 are available boarding spots. 45 minutes before departure you could pay $40 to get one of those spots. If all of the Business Select spots are taken, it won’t be offered. You don’t get any Business Select perks except boarding with that group. (official press release)

The reactions seem to be mixed. People with A-list or A-list Plus feel that the value of the status has been diminished now that random people can just take those top spots. One example given on the FlyerTalk forum was that someone who purchased a $79 fare can pay $40 and board immediately after the guy who paid $400 for a Biz Select fare.

Here are my thoughts:

  • If you feel that you need one of the best seats in the plane (exit row, bulkhead, etc) it may be worth it.
  • If you had to change your flight and had a C boarding pass it may be worth it.
  • Yes, it devalues SW elite fliers somewhat.


  • I don’t think it will be used that often. $40 seems like a lot, per segment. Your casual flier likely won’t be willing to fork out that much.

If your goal is to try to get an exit row seat, it seems a bit of a crapshoot.  Unless you know for sure what spot you would get, and that there are no thru passengers, there’s a good chance your $40 would be wasted.  If all you care about is an aisle (or window) seat most A boarding passes will get you that.  I don’t plan on taking advantage of it unless I’m feeling really terrible and have a bad boarding pass.

Check out the FlyerTalk forum about it here. It’s very interesting to see the frequent flier reactions. (Although if you don’t have a ton of time I don’t recommend it—I always get sucked into the various discussions and before you know it two hours have passed!)

Readers, what do you think? Does this de-value Southwest elite fliers? Will you take advantage of it?


  1. SWA employees at the airport Monday told me that starting in February an A-List preferred (which I am so I don’t know if this will apply to regular A-List) with a B or C boarding pass (happens) will board after the A group.

  2. Should clarify. One employee at the check-in counter said A-listers boarding after A group when holding a B or C started Monday, which is what people are saying on Flyertalk, but the guy at the gate said he was told it starts in February (I asked because I had a mid-B and he did not announce the new boarding policy).

  3. Thanks for that info Marshall. This will matter for the A-Listers who get a B or C for last minute purchases. Really is a big thing, wish they’d have advertised this as much as the $40 buy up.

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