Southwest Airlines on Tuesday said it will spend more than $2 billion on specific moves that it hopes will improve its passenger experience.
The improvements include bigger overhead bins for luggage, quicker internet onboard, and outlets in every single seat, along with upgrades to the cocktail menu.
They also include a brand new fare category, Wanna Get Away Plus, which is set to be rolled out later this month. The carrier said that the new fare will bring “a new ability to transfer travel funds and to confirm a same-day change to an available seat on a different flight between the same origin and destination, without a change in base fare.”
Bob Jordan, the Southwest CEO who took over after Gary Kelly’s retirement, said the improvements were made in order to keep its current customers loyal and win future ones.
"As we continue to welcome back loyal customers and win new ones, these initiatives, combined with the best people in the industry, support our purpose of connecting people to what's most important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel,” he said.
According to Southwest, the timelines for the other upgrades vary — new bin space will be on aircraft deliveries beginning early next year, while the upgrades to the seats, which include onboard USB A and USB C power ports on every seat, should show up in early 2023.
And, continuing the emphasis on the customer experience, Southwest says it is changing the way customers can purchase upgraded boarding passes that allow them to slot into boarding positions A1 through A15 — passengers, by late summer, will be able to do that on their mobile devices without having to stand in line at the airport.
Southwest also expects to give flyers “an ability to add lap child travelers when booking online” and at self-service kiosks.
The new drink service menu, news that comes a few months after Southwest announced plans to bring alcohol back on its planes, includes a Bloody Mary Mix this summer, followed by a ready-to-drink cocktail in September, all alongside new options of Hard Seltzer and Rosé.
"We listen to our customers, and their insights help us deliver on and exceed their expectations," Jordan said. "Behind these commitments stand the legendary people of Southwest Airlines—ready to welcome customers onboard with warmth, hospitality, and LUV."