Southwest CEO Shoots Down Basic Economy Idea Again

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Southwest Airlines’ CEO has shot down the idea of a basic economy ticket once again. While the topic keeps coming up, Gary Kelly has always said he won’t introduce a basic economy ticket class while he remains at the reins of the airline.

Southwest Airlines, Basic Economy, Gary Kelly
Southwest doesn’t offer basic economy fares. Photo: Getty Images

The idea of a basic economy fare has penetrated throughout the flight industry with full-service airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa offering them, alongside low-cost airlines such as Ryanair. Basically, you pay for a space on the plane, and everything else is extra. Despite this being a potential river of revenue, Southwest refuses to break the dam holding it back.

What is basic economy?

The premise of the basic economy fare is just that… it’s basic. While you don’t get all of the bells and whistles of higher fares, you also pay much less.

The basic fare most often books you a seat on the aircraft. However, you can’t choose which seat that is. You also likely won’t get refreshments or any checked baggage. On the more extreme end of basic economy fares, you may even have a limited hand baggage allowance.

Southwest Airlines, Basic Economy, Gary Kelly
Southwest’s CEO has no plans to introduce basic economy. Photo: Southwest Airlines

Southwest won’t introduce the fare category

While as a low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines might be the first airline you would expect to offer such a basic fare, it’s actually one of the few airlines that hasn’t. And things aren’t set to change while Gary Kelly remains CEO of the airline.

According to Travel Pulse, this week Kelly addressed the concerns with his employees. Indeed, according to the publication, he told employees of his airline:

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“I’m on the record many times saying that Southwest—at least as long as I’m around—will never do basic economy, so I’m on the record with that.”

Southwest Airlines, Basic Economy, Gary Kelly
Southwest doesn’t even charge for baggage. Photo: Southwest Airlines

What does Southwest offer?

Despite being a low-cost carrier, Southwest Airlines’ fares are actually pretty fully loaded. For example, Southwest Airlines doesn’t levy a fee for changing flights. While it will, of course, charge the difference in fares, it won’t charge customers for the privilege. With other airlines, it can be cheaper to book a whole new ticket than pay the fee to change flights.

Additionally, Southwest Airlines also offers passengers free checked luggage. With weight and size limits, two checked bags are allowed per passenger. Something that is the polar opposite of European low-cost carrier Ryanair. The Irish airline places a limit on hand luggage and charges for all checked luggage.

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Are you happy Southwest won’t introduce a basic economy fare? Would you rather they did? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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