September 2, 2009

Southwest to sell a place in line

Southwest Airlines Co. kept to its pledge of not following other U.S. airlines with new fees, but said Wednesday it had a new boarding service to sell.

Southwest, which has no assigned seating on planes, said it would sell reserved spots for earlier boarding for a $10 charge, the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday.

Called the EarlyBird Check-in, Southwest said the fee automatically reserves a boarding position for customers prior to general check-in, allowing EarlyBird customers to begin boarding the plane after Southwest's Business Select and Rapid Rewards A-List customers.

With EarlyBird Check-in, you no longer need to watch the clock or set your alarm to be one of the first customers to check in for a Southwest flight, said the airline's vice president of marketing, sales and distribution, Kevin Krone.

To date, Southwest has added a fee of $25 for unaccompanied children ages 5 to 11, but has otherwise avoided tagging familiar services with new fees as other carriers have done.

Industry analyst Robert McAdoo at Avondale Partners said in July the airline could reap $825 million in pre-tax revenue with new baggage fees.