Southwest launches new fee

Published On: Dec 17 2012 03:41:40 PM EST

Southwest Airlines has a reputation for charging very few fees, and very competitive fares.

Now, the airline is tweaking some of its service charges, although some passengers may have only themselves to blame.

Southwest has long allowed passengers to change flights without a charge, and it lets customers apply the price of an unused ticket to a later trip. However, the company says too many passengers simply skip the flight, without canceling in advance. Those suddenly empty seats are getting too expensive.

So, the airline will start charging a "no-show" fee for passengers who fail to cancel the tickets before their flights. That charge will only be assessed to passengers who buy the lowest, most-restricted tickets.

It's a move that seems to make sense, and, since most airlines already charge fees just for changing a reservation, Southwest still might have a customer service advantage over its rivals. It has not been announced how much that fee will be, or when it will go into effect.

Baggage fee increase

Southwest also brags about allowing its passengers two checked bags for free. That policy will not change. However, the airline will charge more money for the 3rd checked bag, plus overweight or oversized luggage. That fee is going up from $50 to $70.

Also, the fee some passengers pay for the early check-in, which helps move passengers toward the front of the boarding line and assures space for their bag in the overhead bins, will increase from $10 to $12.50.

AirTran Fee Bump

Southwest's AirTran Airways subsidiary will raise its fees for checking bags to $25 for the first bag, up from $20, and to $35 for the second, up from $25.

As always when booking air travel, look for all the fees each airline charges to get the most accurate estimate of the true cost of the flight!