'Strong Hint' about Bag Fees for Southwest? No Plans, Says Airline

Southwest is one of two remaining U.S. airlines that still give passengers free checked-bags. Actually, Southwest gives you two for free while JetBlue allows one. In recent years though, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly has hinted this could change. So far it has not. But the latest denial has some analysts wondering.

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Bag Fees – Strong Hint?

In fact, the Wall Street Journal called Kelly’s latest remarks his “strongest hint to date” that change could happen:

  • “Mr. Kelly said that if fliers come to better understand and maybe even prefer ‘an a la carte approach — we’d be crazy not to provide our customers with what they want’.” —WSJ Oct. 24, 2013

No Changes for Now

Presumably this a la carte approach – which is favored by most other airlines – could possibly include the usual broad range of fees including charges for checked-baggage. But Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins told FareCompare unequivocally, “There are no plans [to change]. Truly.” He also pointed out that Kelly has said nothing new. Indeed, the CEO dropped hints about possibly changing the airline’s fee set-up as far back as February when he said, “Never say never” (he also said then there were no plans for any changes).

If bags fees do change, here’s how to pack everything in a carry-on

Southwest’s Image Makeover

But the airline is changing, at least a little. Southwest debuted a brand new image in a spring TV campaign which you can see in the video below. Notice how there is no mention of the long-time Southwest signature line, “bags fly free.” Nor are there any funny baggage handlers saying things like, “fees don’t fly with us.” Instead, you get a soaring, sober-minded carrier complete with inspirational music and if this new ad reminds you of legacy carriers like Delta or United – airlines that do charge for bags – you’re not alone.

Question for Southwest Travelers

Would Southwest continue to be your favorite airline if you did have to pay for checked-bags? We’d love to hear what you have to say.

New Southwest advertisement:

Old Southwest advertisement:


Published: October 25, 2013