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New Southwest CEO on bag fees, change fees, assigned seats: ‘It’s not like we are changing the DNA of the company’

  • June 24, 2021

never say never to, in recent years, an emphatic defense of its bags-fly-free policy in the face of billions in revenue rivals collect from checked-bag fees. At least a few times, he went so far as to say bags will remain free as long as he’s CEO.

So Wednesday’s announcement that Kelly is stepping down as CEO in February raises a key question for travelers: will bags still fly free?

Kelly’s replacement, longtime Southwest executive Bob Jordan, had a quick reply in a brief interview with USA TODAY.

“I will say emphatically that we will not charge for bags,” Jordan said. “And there will be no (ticket) change fees.”

early boarding fee. Passengers are free to pick any open seat when they board.

One of the assigned-seating studies, which Jordan led, led to the creation of the current boarding system in 2007. “You spoke and we listened! Southwest Airlines says open seating is here to stay,” the airline said in announcing the decision.

Jordan said “every single time” time the airline has studied changing its seating policy customers “generally prefer open seating.”

He didn’t rule out testing assigned seat again, putting it in the same camp as other potential changes ahead, including the addition of new international routes. Southwest doesn’t serve Europe, for example, focusing its international service in the Caribbean and Mexico.

“If it was clear that the need (for assigned seating) was there, that this was essential to our product, we would absolutely look at that,” Jordan said.

Kelly, who has previously acknowledged Southwest’s open boarding turns off some potential customers and said the airline’s new reservations system gives it the capability to assign seats, said at the moment, however: “There’s no work on that.”

Is this seat taken? Southwest seat saving drives some passengers crazy 

Kelly and Jordan said Southwest is still working on new products or services that will boost revenue, hush-hush efforts they regularly touted before the pandemic without providing any details.

‘Very handsome opportunities’: Southwest aggressively plotting ways to boost revenue

On Wednesday, Kelly said the projects are still not ready for “prime time” but said two of them fit well with the resurgence of leisure travel. Southwest, like most airlines, has added flights to several vacation destinations to cater to pandemic travel trends.

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