Update, 10/20/22: Wanna Get Away Plus fares are available for just $0.01 more than Wanna Get Away fares when you book or rebook travel over the phone by calling Southwest at 800-435-9792. The normal upsell amount is $20-$30 per flight. This offer is valid for bookings made through 10/27 for travel anytime. These fares offer more points per dollar, transferable credit, free same day standby, and free same day confirmed changes.
Update:, 5/23/22: Wanna Get Away Plus fares means that flight credits can now be transferred.
Update:, 5/17/22: Wanna Get Away Plus fares are now live.
Unfortunately, it seems that Southwest is pricing the Wanna Get Away Plus fare at the old Anytime rate and has increased the cost of an Anytime ticket, effectively making refundable tickets more expensive.
But hey, at least they’re not going to basic economy route!
New pricing example:
You can find the previous pricing on this route in the original post below.
Originally posted on 3/27/22:
How do you squeeze more money out of passengers?
Delta created the basic economy fare to get passengers to cough up more shekels to avoid being nickel and dimed for things like choosing seats and being able to make changes. Other US carriers were quick to match the model.
When United ditched change fees, that became a big differentiator between standard economy and basic economy tickets, and one that other US carriers were also quick to match.
American and United took a harsher basic route than Delta, stripping out the free carry-on bag from basic economy fares. But American soon reversed course due to bleeding customers to Delta, and they added back the free carry-on. American even went a step further, giving elites the ability to select premium seats, upgrades, and loyalty points, making free changes the primary differentiator.
JetBlue then took the harshest route, charging for carry-ons even if you have their credit card, something that United waives for credit cardholders.
And then there’s Southwest. The airline famously kept the 2 free checked bags that all airlines used to offer until 2008 when bag fees were added as the country into the Great Recession.
Southwest currently offers 3 fare types, Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select.
They offer 6, 10, or 12 points per dollar spent, respectively. The higher fares are fully refundable, while Wanna Get Away fares can be cancelled for a credit useable only by the passenger for 12 months. The higher fares include free same day changes and standby, while Wanna Get Away fares do not. Business select fares include A1-A15 priority boarding, security, and a premium drink.
Starting in June, Southwest will offer a new fare type, though it won’t try to copy Basic Economy. Instead, Southwest will try to get people to pay more by offering more benefits, rather than stripping away benefits.
They will add “Wanna Get Away Plus” fares, that include 8 points per dollar spent, flight credits that can be used by anyone instead of just the passengers, and free same day flight changes and standby.
Southwest will add early-bird checkin boarding to Anytime fares to make those more attractive compared to Wanna Get Away Plus fares.
Southwest A-List members will also get free same day changes even on Wanna Get Away fares.
I would have liked to see Southwest add a 3rd bag free or heavier bags free on premium fares, but for now all fares will come with 2 free 50 pound bags.
I love the strategy of avoiding a degrading Basic Economy experience in favor of a more premium economy fare, but it’s an open question if people looking for the lowest fare will pay extra for some small niceties.
It’s also worth noting that Southwest award tickets are always fully refundable and don’t earn points, so if you’re using points, the only benefit of the new fare will be the ability to have same day confirmed changes.
In the end, it will come down to just how much extra Southwest will charge for the Wanna Get Away Plus over Wanna Get Away. For a small upcharge, I’d imagine they will have a decent amount of takers that do Wanna Pay More for some added benefits.
How much extra would you pay for a Wanna Get Away Plus fare?