Southwest, AirTran Fee Changes: What Travelers Will Pay

There has been some confusion over the latest fee changes at Southwest and its merger acquisition partner AirTran. Southwest, long known for its tag-line, “Fees don’t fly with us!” has in fact been charging some fees for years and will add a brand new one in the coming year. Additionally, some fees on both airlines have been raised effective immediately.

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Two Bags Still Fly Free

What has not changed is Southwest famous free bags policy – passengers can still check two bags at no charge, and it remains the most generous policy among the only U.S. airlines (JetBlue gives its passengers one free checked-bag). AirTran has always charged for checked-baggage and will continue to do so but those fees have gone up. Here’s the break-down:

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Southwest: New No-Show Cancelation Fee

While Southwest will keep its no change fee policy in place, it will begin charging an unspecified no-show fee for travelers who make reservations but skip the flight without notifying the airline.

Up until now, travelers could book tickets on Southwest and not show up without incurring a financial penalty. This will change sometime in 2013, but again, neither a firm date nor a specific fee has been announced.

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Southwest: Higher Fees for Excess, Overweight Bags, Early Boarding

These changes are effective for tickets purchased on or after Dec. 15 for travel on or after Feb. 13, 2013.

  • New excess checked-bag fee: $75 each for all bags after the first two free checked-bags
  • Old fee: $50 each for bags 3-9; $110 each for the others
  • New overweight, oversize fee: $75 per item from 51-100 lbs. or in excess of 62 inches
  • Old fee: $50 per item
  • New EarlyBird early boarding fee: $12.50 per passenger
  • Old fee: $10

AirTran: Higher Checked-Bag Fees

AirTran raised its checked-bag fees as of Dec. 15 to bring them in line with fees charged by other carriers including American, United and US Airways.

  • New Checked-baggage fees: $25 one-way for first checked-bag, $35 one-way for second bag.
  • Old fees: $20 for first, $25 for second


Published: December 17, 2012