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Business Travelers: Would You Fly Southwest If You Could Board First?

southwest-ticket.jpgSouthwest's made some improvements to its "no assigned seating" policy. For starters, the new "letter and number" system substantially decreases the amount of time passengers spend waiting in line to board. And the latest enhancement: the creation of a "Business Select" class (which CEO Gary Kelley says should add at least $100 million to the company's annual revenue.)
A little info on the "Business Select" category:

  • Fares will be priced $10 to $30 higher than regular ticket fares.
  • Passengers will be guaranteed a place in the "A" boarding group, meaning they'll be among the first people to board.
  • Passengers will get a free cocktail on board.
  • Passengers will get as many as double credits toward the carrier's Rapid Rewards frequent-flier program.
Southwest has long been classified as a leisure carrier (to the chagrin of its executives, and despite its past efforts to court business travelers). Even with these changes, it seems Kelley's projections may be a little inflated. After all, business passengers can get into the "A" group by checking in online in a timely fashion. Why pay extra? For the booze?

And what about the leisure travelers who fall into the "Gotta Get Away" category (much more creatively named than "Business Select," and far more representative of the brand's image)? Will they see this move as a departure from the "one class fits all" strategy that's made the airline so appealing?

(Southwest Ticketing image courtesy of mil8, cc 2.0)

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