Launching a new product or brand? Just take the existing one and add “plus” to the end of it. That seems to work for streaming media solutions, so why not Southwest Airlines, too??
The company officially launched its fourth branded fare family, Wanna Get Away Plus, with a few “new” features above what the regular Wanna Get Away fares offer. And a tiny bit of revisionist history to accompany that move.
All of our competitors went down the path of stripping away features and then selling them back to generate new fare products. We’re not taking anything away. – Andrew Watterson, Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer
The new WGA+ fare includes three key benefits for travelers beyond the regular WGA option:
- Same-day confirmed change (assuming seats are available) and same-day standby (if not) without any fare difference
- 8X Rapid Rewards points
- Transferable flight credit if travelers decide to change their booking
The increased Rapid Rewards points makes sense, and sits nicely between the 6x for WGA and 10x for Anytime fares. Similarly, the same-day change option extends that benefit down from the Anytime category, triggering some other changes (see below).
The transferable flight credit, however, presents an interesting conundrum.
The company presents this as “a new benefit” and pushes the narrative that it did not take away benefits in order to offer the new branded fare option. Except it is not new.
For many, many years the idea of transferable flight credit was a key value proposition for Southwest Airlines. It was a well loved benefit for travelers. But it ended in July 2010.
Announcing the return of that benefit a dozen years later is good news for those who now can take advantage of it. And it definitely offers a differentiation for the new fare family. But those who have been around long enough will remember that this is, in a way, the company selling back a feature previously stripped away as part of generating the new fare product.
Southwest did not provide pricing details on the new bundle. And the rollout timing also remains unclear, though second half of Q2 is the target.
Anytime fares also see a couple key improvements. In addition to the transferable flight credit, Anytime customers also now gain access to Priority (check-in) and Express (security) lines at the airport.
Most notably, however, EarlyBird check-in comes with Anytime fares, bundled into the product.
The company will also improve day of travel benefits for A-List and A-List Plus members. These travelers will now receive complimentary access to same-day flight changes. Previously only standby was available as a complimentary option a those tier levels.
Overall, the new WGA+ fare fits nicely into the company’s overall range of options. And with the promise of not removing anything from the existing WGA product there weren’t many places Southwest could turn to find new benefits to add to the new WGA+ fares.
The transferability of funds might appeal most to small businesses using one of the company’s business travel channels. In that case a funds transfer will be restricted to other members of the business.
It is unlikely to be especially compelling to most leisure travelers, though a family with uncertain plans might choose it if one member ultimately could ore easily reuse the funds for a future (reimbursable?) (work?) trip should things change.
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