Southwest Early Bird Check-In Moving To Dynamic Pricing

It appears that one of the better values in travel is getting a bit more expensive.  For almost a decade, Southwest Airlines has offered to sell you a better seat online.  They started out charging $10 per passenger but raised that to $15 a few years ago.  Now, it appears some flights will be getting more costly.

The folks at The Points Guy got their hands on an internal Southwest memo that indicates they’ll be moving to a dynamic pricing model on August 29th.  Some flights will still cost $15 per person for Early Bird Check-In.  However, the most expensive flights will now cost $25.  While we don’t have all the details, it seems like prices could vary between the high of $25 and the low of $15.  The pricing will be static on a route once established under the new system.

Is Southwest Early Bird Check-In Worth It?

I just got finished testing out that exact question.  You can see my results.  While I think the mileage may vary for some, I see plenty of value in Early Bird Check-In for our family.  With the price increasing to $25 I think that actually drives up the value of Early Bird.  Fewer people will buy at $25.  That means if you choose to check-in right at 24 hours, you’ll be fighting even more folks for the best boarding passes.

The Final Two Pennies

Given the number of folks that appear to be buying Early Bird Check-in on Southwest flights, this change doesn’t surprise me.  If you end up on one of the flights where Early Bird will cost you $25, that’s a $50 add-on per round-trip.  For a family of four who used to pay $120 round-trip to board early, the bump to $200 for the family is noticeable.  It’s still probably worth it for our family of 4. But, make sure you’re calculating the cost of Early Bird into your ticket price when you’re making purchasing decisions.

The post Southwest Early Bird Check-In Moving To Dynamic Pricing was published first on Pizza in Motion

11 Comments

  1. “The pricing will be static on a route once established under the new system.” Why doesn’t Southwest just follow the Florida Toll Road Model where pricing has no limits and can be changed at will depending when you pass the toll gate? Just require a Southwest Credit Card for boarding (i.e. like Florida, don’t accept cash), bury the pricing model in the T&Cs, and automatically bill the credit card once the customer passes the boarding/toll gate. If a customer does not have a Southwest Credit card, accept another credit card but charge them a daily administrative fee, like rental car companies do for a Sun Pass device. If Southwest wants to join the dark side of the farce, they should go all in.

  2. “That means if you choose to check-in right at 24 hours, you’ll be fighting even more folks for the best boarding passes.”

    But those folks would have been ahead of you in the old model, this at least gives one a fighting chance.

    1. Ben, I don’t agree. In the old model, if you bought your ticket early and bought EB early, you could in theory be ahead of these folks. Now, if you both choose not to buy, there’s more people in the pool.

  3. Learn yesterday that SWA will allow a companion miniature horse on flights. So does the hay eater owner have to pay $50 for early boarding?

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