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Southwest Airlines has a reputation for being one of the most flexible and customer-oriented carriers in the sky. The airline doesn’t charge for bags and there are no fees for changes or cancellations.
Soon, their most affordable fares will be more flexible with free same-day standby, which expands the standby option to anyone flying Southwest. Business Select tickets will soon include free in-flight Wi-Fi, too.
These new benefits will extend to award tickets booked with Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Two easy ways to earn Rapid Rewards points are through any of the Southwest credit cards or by transferring points from an eligible card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Free Same-Day Standby on Wanna Get Away Fares
Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares are the most budget-friendly, and that means they come with more restrictions than higher-tier Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime and Business Select fares. Wanna Get Away fares already allow same-day standby, but currently any fare difference must be paid.
With this update, Southwest is making same-day standby free on every fare for all customers, which adds more flexibility in case travel plans change. On the negative side, Southwest is also planning to limit the availability of EarlyBird Check-In as a paid add-on for Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus tickets. It will continue to be a built-in perk on Anytime fares.
When Can I Join the Same-day Standby List?
Southwest considers same-day as the same calendar day as your flight—not 24 hours before your scheduled departure. So, you have from midnight the day of your flight up to 10 minutes before the original scheduled departure time to join the standby list. The new standby policy doesn’t have a start date for now other than “soon.” Still, this is a positive update that can save you money should you ever need to use it.
This change puts Southwest in line with other U.S. carriers like United Airlines and American Airlines, who offer free same-day standby options. These carriers are still not as generous when it comes to things like checked bags and flight changes.
Compare Southwest Co-Branded Credit Cards
How Does Same-day Standby Work?
One important point to note is that same-day standby is different from same-day confirmed changes. So far, there’s been no mention of updates to same-day changes with Wanna Get Away fares. You’ll still be on the hook for the fare difference if you need to make a change with these base fares.
When you need more flexibility, consider a Wanna Get Away Plus fare, because they come with free same-day confirmed changes, meaning you don’t pay the fare difference. The cost comparison between Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus fares is nominal considering the added flexibility you can get if you think you’ll need it.
As long as the flight operates between the same city pairs and falls on the same calendar date, you can select any flight that departs prior to your originally scheduled flight, regardless of what connections there are, if any—switching from a route with connections to a nonstop flight is also permitted.
Free In-flight Internet With Business Select Fares
Southwest will offer free in-flight Wi-Fi with Business Select fares soon as well. Anyone can get internet for $8 per device. The connection lasts for the duration of your flight, and is handy for checking email and social media or general browsing. Right now, only A-List Preferred members get free internet access, but Southwest will add this perk to Business Select fares. Again, there’s no start date.
The Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card includes up to 365 credits for $8 every year to cover Wi-Fi purchases, but it’s not exactly free considering the card comes with an annual fee of $199. That said, if you fly Southwest often, but not on Business Select fares, it’s another way to get an extra perk with your flights.
Limited EarlyBird Check-In Availability
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news for budget-conscious travelers who like to save on Southwest flights by buying the airline’s cheapest fares. Beginning August 15, Southwest will limit EarlyBird Check-In availability for Wanna Get Away and Wanna Get Away Plus tickets.
For those fares, EarlyBird Check-In is a paid extra that automatically checks you in and assigns you a boarding number 24 hours before your flight’s departure. The service will still be available on select flights, route and days, and it will continue to be included as a complimentary benefit on Anytime fares. Note that when you purchase an Anytime fare, EarlyBird Check-In also takes place 12 hours earlier, 36 hours prior to your departure.
Southwest Airlines, often recognized as one of the friendliest in the industry, will soon add free same-day standby for all fares, including its cheapest Wanna Get Away tickets. This is a positive change that adds real value, especially if you have flexibility when traveling.
If you need confirmed changes for a guaranteed seat, the slightly more expensive Wanna Get Away Plus fares are still an option. Unfortunately, both of these fare types will soon have less EarlyBird Check-In availability. However, Business Select flyers will appreciate free Wi-Fi to settle in and tackle some work with a solid connection at 30,000 feet.