Southwest offers early boarding option for $10

EarlyBird service automatically checks passengers in 36 hours prior to a flight's departure.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
By Hibah Yousuf, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

How we got started
The founders of four breakout companies on how they built billion-dollar global brands like Costco and Re/Max from scratch.
Should the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit be extended beyond Nov. 30?
  • Yes
  • No

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Southwest Airlines customers have never been able to reserve a seat, but now they can board flights early in search of a plum spot for an extra ten bucks each way.

On Wednesday the airline announced its EarlyBird service, which will automatically check passengers in and reserve a boarding spot for them within 36 hours of a flight's departure. That's 12 hours before everyone else can check in online.

Southwest customers board in the order that they check in. So EarlyBird flyers will board flights before general boarding begins, but after Rapid Rewards A-list members and Business Select customers.

Southwest expects that the EarlyBird service will boost revenues just as Business Select fares did when they were introduced in late 2007. In 2008, Business Select brought in $75 million.

Bob McAdoo, airline analyst for Avondale Partners, thinks the service could do even better, and projects that if 25 to 30 passengers on each flight buy the service, Southwest could rake in an additional $250 million annually.

"This is going to relieve a lot of customer's anxiety," McAdoo said.

Southwest Airlines (LUV, Fortune 500) spokeswoman Brandy King said the service is the direct result of customer feedback. In a survey, flyers told the airline they'd pay more to board earlier.

"It's all about the convenience of not having to check in for your flight 24 hours before departure. Someone is checking in for you and you are getting an earlier boarding position." she said.

But it's not for everyone. Shiraaz Rahman, 23, who flies on Southwest between medical school in Chicago and his parents' home near Louisville, doesn't plan to try the new service.

"I fly Southwest because it's cheap and reliable," Rahman said, "Their system is efficient as it is."  To top of page

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
More Galleries
50 years of the Ford Mustang Take a drive down memory lane with our favorite photos of the car through the years. More
Cool cars from the New York Auto Show These are some of the most interesting new models and concept vehicles from the Big Apple's car show. More
8 CEOs who took a pay cut in 2013 Median CEO pay inched up 9% in 2013 to $13.9 million. But not everyone got a bump last year. Here are eight CEOs who missed out. More
Sponsors
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.