Southwest Airlines is changing its fare structure in 2022, but company officials were vague this week in explaining what exactly is coming or when.
The airline currently has three types of fares available to passengers, which have been available since 2007:
- Wanna Get Away, which are the cheapest, not always available, or have limits on refunds or changes.
- Anytime, which are standard tickets which are refundable and allow for same-day flight changes.
- Business Select, which gives preferential boarding, complimentary premium drinks, and other perks.
New Offering Coming
During an investor day meeting, Southwest’s chief commercial officer Andrew Watterson said the airline will be adding a fourth fare offering.
“I would encourage you to think about this as being above Wanna Get Away. That’d be an upsell,” Watterson said, according to the Dallas Morning News.
What the new fare will be remains unknown, but Watterson said the airline does not plan changes to the current tiers.
“We will not be penalizing customers in terms of their fares and our product offerings,” he said, calling the new, unnamed option “an enhancement to our Wanna Get Away lower product, which our customers will happily pay a little bit more for.”
When the new product will be available remains up in the air, although Watterson said it should be active before the summer travel season.
New Routes Added
As the airline wrestles with its new fare structure, it is also announcing a number of new flights on the schedule coming in late April. None involve new destinations, but they are direct flights currently not available.
The airline is also adding Saturday-only flights for a number of destinations, including Dallas to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Dallas to Norfolk, Virginia; Kansas City to Myrtle Beach; Kansas City to Pensacola, Florida; Kansas City to Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida; Nashville to Seattle; and Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach.
The airline is also resuming flights between Fort Lauderdale and Havana, giving the airline a second destination to Cuba to complement current service from Tampa.
Dealing With The Pandemic
All of these plans come as the company is experiencing an uptick in passengers as more people get vaccinated against coronavirus. Officials said there has been no negative impact on travel so far due to the new Omicron variant, but that could change.
“Any number of external factors may change and impact this plan,” chief financial officer Tammy Romo said, according to Reuters. “But we were cautious in our assumptions about travel demand.”
Bob Jordan, an executive vice president who will become CEO in February, said the airline is remaining upbeat about the future of travel.“There’s no doubt the pandemic has been hard,” Jordan said, according to USA Today. “I’m happy that we are emerging but we are positioned as a company to emerge even better coming out of the pandemic.”