Southwest’s new fare type is here. What to know about ‘Wanna Get Away Plus’

May 17, 2022

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Editors note: Wanna Get Away Plus fares are on sale as of today, May 17. This story has been updated with new information and was originally published March 24, 2022.

In the immortal words of Lenny Kravitz: I want to get away.

At Southwest Airlines, passengers can now get away with a few extra perks.

The carrier announced a new fare class on March 24, dubbed “Wanna Get Away Plus,” offering a fourth option in its fare system just above the discounted — and relatively restrictive — “Wanna Get Away” fare.

The new fare — now on sale — introduces three benefits above Wanna Get Away, which is essentially Southwest’s version of basic economy.

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While tickets still won’t be fully refundable — you’ll have to buy Anytime or Business Select for that — tickets can be canceled in exchange for a flight credit, just like with Wanna Get Away. Unlike those base-level fares, though, the credit can be transferred to someone else. That means that if one person has an unused flight credit, they can use that to book a ticket for a spouse, child, or anyone else with a Rapid Rewards account. That’s a big plus for personal and leisure travelers.

The flight credit remains valid for 12 months from the date of booking.

Additionally, the fares will allow passengers to make confirmed same-day flight changes, or — if a flight is full — stand by for different flights the same day. With the more restrictive basic fare, same-day changes involve paying a fare difference.

More: Southwest expanded like wildfire during 2021. Here’s its plan for 2022.

The confirmed same-day changes are expected to appeal in particular to business travelers, a segment that Southwest is aggressively trying to court.

Wanna Get Away Plus fares will earn 8 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent, compared with 6 points per dollar with Wanna Get Away fares. There will not be any changes to what’s included with Wanna Get Away tickets.

The two highest fare levels — “Anytime” and “Business Select” — will both remain, and Anytime will see the addition of the use of Priority and Express lanes, along with EarlyBird boarding.

Anytime tickets earn 10 points per dollar, while Business Select earns 12 points per dollar.

The new fare will be available toward the end of the second quarter, Southwest’s vice president of marketing, loyalty and products, Jonathan Clarkson, said during a media briefing on Wednesday.

Southwest Executive Chairman Gary Kelly greets employees while boarding a flight with A-List passengers in November 2021. (Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

Southwest has repeatedly teased the new fare to investors during earnings calls and presentations over the past several months, framing it as a way to upsell some customers who would otherwise purchase Wanna Get Away fares, attracting them with the option of greater flexibility without taking anything away from the basic fare.

“We’re not taking anything away [from Wanna Get Away],” Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Watterson reiterated during Wednesday’s briefing.

“The airline industry, in our perspective, is a repeat purchase business,” Waterson added. “A positive experience with a quality product brings customers back.”

During the briefing, airline executives declined to share pricing details, citing financial regulatory restrictions, although they did suggest that the upper-level fares would not increase, meaning that the new fare would fall somewhere in between current price levels for Wanna Get Away and Anytime.

The executives did, however, point to guidance issued to investors in December, when they first teased the new fare product. They said that the airline was targeting a $1.5 billion revenue boost in 2023 driven by a set of initiatives, including the new fare class as well as improved distribution to business travelers, a renewed co-branded credit card deal with Chase and enhanced revenue management practices.

More: Is Canada next? Retiring Southwest CEO Gary Kelly discusses carrier’s future

Southwest said that the ability to transfer fare credits was likely to appeal strongly to budget-conscious leisure travelers, while the same-day confirmed changes and standby option presents an attractive opportunity for business travelers who may not have the option to spend company money on Anytime or Business Select fares.

Southwest significantly expanded its network during the pandemic, adding 18 new markets in 2021, as it worked to capture returning leisure demand even as business travel remained sluggish.

More: Exclusive: Southwest wants business travelers and will double down on them as it recovers from the pandemic

As it moves forward, the airline is focusing on restoring frequencies and redundancies back into its network, part of an effort to improve reliability and provide more schedule options — crucial as it tries to attract the business travel segment.

“For next year and the year after, the No. 1 objective is to restore the network we had pre-pandemic,” Watterson told TPG in an interview late last year. “Especially in our business-type routes, because those are the ones that have less frequency than they do before.”

Featured photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy.

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