Southwest offers $40 early-boarding option

Southwest Airlines passenger planes are seen at Chicago's Midway Airport in Illnois May 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages) KAREN BLEIER

DALLAS Southwest Airlines (LUV) has added a $40 pay-at-the-gate option for travelers with cheaper tickets who want to be among the first to group to board.

Dallas-based Southwest doesn't offer assigned seats and the carrier Monday announced the latest option for coveted group "A" boarding. The boarding slots for cheaper tickets are assigned based on when a person checks in for the flight.

Business select fares cost the most but are refundable and include priority boarding. Other passengers can pay extra to reserve a boarding spot right behind elite fliers.

The latest plan offers passengers the chance to buy one of the earliest boarding positions for $40 per flight. The offer begins 45 minutes before the flight departs. Passengers will hear an announcement at the gate if the slots are available.

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