southwest airlines upgrade - Airlinespolicy

Southwest Airlines offers an open seating policy that has no scope for conventional seat upgrades, rather you can go for Southwest upgraded boarding which prioritizes your boarding and lets you find a comfortable spot for yourself. Being a budgeted airline, it does not have a class of services – neither business nor first class that is why Southwest Airlines upgrade is not available, instead they have fare types such as Southwest business select.

southwest airlines upgrade - Airlinespolicy

If you’re flying with Southwest do not expect lavish lie-flat seats, but there are some steps you can take to request a Southwest seat upgrade during boarding.

How does Southwest seat upgrade work?

Southwest seat upgrade

Southwest offers a unique approach when it comes to seat upgrades which can only be done through Southwest upgraded boarding. Here’s the breakdown –

Also Read: What is Allowed in Carry-on Baggage Southwest Airlines


The airline offers an open seating policy where passengers can choose the seats based on their boarding position. The earlier the better –

  • The boarding process kicks at the Southwest check-in counter.
  • Your boarding pass tells you which group you’re in – Group A, B, or C.
  • The airline will allot you a number based on your boarding position, from 1 to 60. 
  • This number is when you board, not your seat.

Please Note: Timing is crucial for Southwest seat upgrade so, passengers who request Southwest Airlines check-in 24 hours prior to departure have a great chance to get early boarding.

How does Southwest Airlines decide the boarding priority?

Southwest Airlines boarding priority
boarding priority

Here’s how the Southwest Airlines boarding list is fixed to understand why Southwest upgraded boarding is crucial to get a better seat.

Boarding PriorityInformation
Boarding FirstIndividuals with specific needs, disabilities, or requiring assistance
Boarding SecondBoarding order from 1 to 60 for passengers falling under Group A
Boarding ThirdFamilies with kids under 6, military personnel, A-List, and other preferred members
Boarding FourthBoarding in numerical order from 1 to 60 for group B
Boarding FifthBoarding in numerical order from 1 to 60 in group C

How to get a better seat with Southwest upgraded boarding?

Securing a seat on Southwest relies on your boarding position. Here’s how you can improve or request Southwest upgrade boarding –

Business Select Fare

Passengers who are looking to purchase this fare are in luck. They automatically get Southwest upgraded boarding spot (A1 to A15) and can choose the preferred seat. 

EarlyBird Check-In

Whether you book a GetAway or Wanna GetAway fare by paying a little extra can get your boarding positioned as a top priority. You actually pay for completing the check-in process early. The service is available 36 hours prior to departure. The fee to avail of this service is $15 to $25 per person. Passengers who book anytime fare, get a complimentary EarlyBird check-in.

Southwest Upgraded Boarding

By paying an additional fee between 30-50 USD per passenger, you can grab the best available boarding position – A1-A15. This is how you get early access to seats and overhead bins on eligible flight segments. You can purchase this within 24 hours of departure on eligible flights.

Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred Status

If you’re part of Southwest’s Rapid Reward program and have A-List preferred status, you can grab a better boarding position after group A. Your boarding status will be upgraded automatically, but you still need to check in manually. 

How to request Southwest upgraded boarding?

Passengers can request Southwest upgraded boarding via an upgrade tool. All you need to do is – 

  • Visit the “Southwest Upgrade Fare Type” page and enter the details in the required field.
  • You will be asked to enter your first name, last name, and confirmation number.
  • Click on Continue to process.

This way Southwest will walk you through the upgrade process, subject to availability. 

How much is upgraded boarding on Southwest?

  • Prices for Southwest upgrade boarding start from USD 30 per segment, per customer and goes up to USD 80 per segment, per customer.
  • Southwest upgraded boarding cost depends on the popularity and length of each flight segment.

Please Note: Southwest upgraded boarding can only be purchased by using a credit card.

What types of fares are available with Southwest Airlines?

Southwest Airlines fare types are divided into 3 categories – Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select.

What is ‘Wanna Get Away’ fare?

This is the airline’s lowest fare and is non-refundable. You can make changes to your flight for a fee, and your fare will be converted to Travel Funds that can be used for future travel.

Wanna Get Away Plus – This is another non-refundable fare with Southwest Airlines that offers transferable credit. Passengers are allowed to request the same-day flight change. 

What does ‘Anytime’ fare offer?

This fare is fully refundable and allows passengers to make changes to their flight without paying a fee. Passengers with this fare also receive priority boarding.

What is the ‘Business Select’ fare type?

This is Southwest’s premium fare and includes priority boarding, extra Rapid Rewards points, and a free premium drink on board. Southwest Business Select fare is also fully refundable and allows for changes without a fee.

What does ‘Southwest Business Select’ fare offer?

Business Select is a fare option offered by Southwest Airlines that provides passengers with additional benefits and flexibility.

Some of the benefits of Southwest Business Select include –

  • Priority boarding – Business Select passengers are among the first to board the plane, so they can choose their preferred seat and stow their carry-on luggage in the overhead bin.
  • Priority security line access – In some airports, Business Select passengers are eligible for expedited security screening.
  • Same-day changes – Business Select passengers can change their flight on the same day of travel without paying additional fees, subject to availability. 
  • Standby travel – You are authorized to stand by for travel between the same city pairs on the initial date of travel with no fee for a change in fares. Southwest will refund the difference, however, if the fare for your new flight is less expensive than the one you originally paid.
  • Extra Rapid Rewards points – Business Select passengers earn extra points on their flights, which can be used for future travel.
  • Complimentary premium drinks – Upon boarding, passengers would be greeted with a premium drink. You can claim your premium drink coupon at the Southwest check-in counter at the airport. 

Business Select on Southwest Airlines tends to be more expensive than other fare options. They provide added value and flexibility for passengers who are willing to pay extra for these benefits.

Southwest Business Select vs Anytime Fare

Southwest Airlines offers two premium fare types, Southwest Business Select and Anytime Fare, which share some similarities but also possess key differences.

Here are some of the main differences between Southwest Business Select and Anytime fare:

FeatureSouthwest Business SelectSouthwest Anytime Fare
Priority BoardingFirst group boarding (after pre-boarding)Refundable with a cancellation fee
Change FeesNo change fees. Just pay the fare differenceNo change fees, but with restrictions on changes
Refund PolicyFully refundableRefundable with cancellation fee
PriceMore expensiveLess expensive
BenefitsFree snacks and drinks onboardFewer perks
Ideal forTravelers prioritizing priority boarding and flexible flight changeNo flexibility in terms of flight change. Priority boarding is paid

Overall, Business Select on Southwest Airlines may be a better choice for travelers who prioritize priority boarding and flexible flight changes, while Anytime Fare may be a better choice for travelers who want some flexibility but are willing to pay less for fewer benefits.

Final Word

Although Southwest Airlines does not offer any Business or Southwest First Class. Still there are many chances where you can upgrade your travel experience by boarding earlier than other passengers.

A better boarding position will allow you to choose your favorite spot, which could be a window, or aisle, close to the lavatory, and more. It also ensures that you sit with your co-travelers, this allows more time to get comfortable in your seat. You’ll also have ample time to place your baggage in the overhead bins, giving you a storage space on priority.

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Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

What are the Southwest Business Select benefits?

Southwest Business Select seatings provide several benefits to its passengers such as priority boarding, extra rapid rewards points, fully refundable fare, dedicated check-in, and priority security.

Are Southwest Business Select tickets refundable?

Yes. This allows passengers to change or cancel their flight at any time without incurring any penalty fees.

What does Southwest mean by business select?

Southwest Airlines created the Business Select fare to meet the needs of its passengers who are looking for a more comfortable and convenient travel experience.

Are you automatically checked in on Southwest Business Select?

Passengers who purchase Southwest Business Select fares do not receive automatic check-in for their flights.

Is Business Select an upgrade on Southwest?

No. It is a fare class that passengers can purchase when booking their flights, which offers additional benefits and amenities.

How many bags can you have on Southwest Business Select?

Southwest Baggage Policy allows customers to bring up to two checked bags free of charge, each weighing up to 50 pounds and measuring up to 62 inches (L+W+H) for Business Select fares.

Is the Southwest seat upgrade worth it?

Southwest’s Business Select fare includes priority boarding, which means you’ll have a better chance of getting your preferred seat location before the flight fills up.


Nancy James DP

Nancy James

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I am an aviation and travel enthusiast. Join me as I take you on a journey through the skies and share insights and interesting details about air travel. Here's you'll find me sharing the most captivating flight experiences and travel stories.

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