Does Southwest Airlines Have First Class? Unveiling the Truth




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Southwest Airlines is known for its low-cost flights and unique boarding process, making it a popular choice among budget-conscious travelers. While many airlines offer distinct first-class seats and services, Southwest takes a different approach, focusing on affordability and efficiency for all passengers.

One might wonder if Southwest Airlines offers first-class seating or services.

Southwest Airlines do not provide a traditional first-class cabin, however it does have a Business Select option, which comes with priority boarding and other perks.

Regardless of your seating choice, Southwest aims to deliver a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience.

Key Takeaways

  • Southwest Airlines doesn’t have traditional first-class seats, but offers a Business Select option.
  • The airline focuses on affordability and efficiency for all passengers.
  • Business Select provides priority boarding and other benefits for a more premium experience.

Southwest Airlines and First Class

Southwest Airlines offers a unique fare option called Business Select. While not exactly a traditional first class, it does provide passengers with some perks.

These benefits include priority boarding in the A1-A15 boarding group and one complimentary premium drink on flights 176 miles or more, as stated on the Southwest Airlines website. However, amenities such as reclining seats and power outlets are not mentioned explicitly.

Some sources, like Eclipse Aviation, claim that Southwest Airlines has first class seating with access to power outlets and a special menu. Yet, this information appears to be inconsistent with the airline’s official stance.

To sum up, while Southwest Airlines might not provide a traditional first-class experience, their Business Select fare option grants passengers some deluxe benefits.

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Southwest Airlines Boarding Process

Priority Boarding

Southwest Airlines does not offer traditional first class seating, but they do have a unique boarding process with priority features. Passengers can purchase priority boarding with the EarlyBird Check-In, ensuring a better boarding position.

A-List and Business Select Benefits

A-List Benefits: A-List passengers receive priority boarding, with boarding positions in the A-List (A1-A15) group. This grants access to the plane before other boarding groups, allowing better seat selection options.

Business Select Benefits: Business Select fares guarantee a boarding position within the A1-A15 group. These passengers also enjoy a free premium drink during their flight and priority access at ticket and security counters.

In the Southwest boarding process, passengers are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and position (1-60) upon check-in. The group and position are indicated on their boarding pass. Groups board in alphabetical order, with priority boarding groups boarding first.

Boarding GroupBenefits
EarlyBird Check-InAdvanced boarding position
A-ListPriority boarding (A1-A15)
Business SelectPriority boarding (A1-A15), premium drink, ticket/security priority access

By utilizing priority boarding options, including the A-List and Business Select benefits, passengers can enhance their Southwest Airlines experience without the need for a traditional first-class offering.

Seating on Southwest Airlines

Seating Options

Southwest Airlines does not offer a typical first class seating option, but does provide a Business Select fare which includes priority boarding and seating. Also, they operate with an open seating policy, allowing passengers to select any available seat once on board.

Legroom and Comfort

All seats on Southwest Airlines are of economy class, with a width of 17 inches. However, there are opportunities for extra legroom, especially in exit rows. These seats offer more space for passengers, but come with responsibilities during emergencies. Moreover, Southwest does not provide reclining seats or power outlets, so it’s essential to plan for your personal comfort during the flight.

Southwest Airlines Fares

Wanna Get Away Fares

Wanna Get Away fares are the lowest-priced Southwest Airlines tickets. These fares are nonrefundable but can be applied towards future travel.

Anytime Fares

Anytime fares are higher-priced, fully refundable tickets. These fares provide the option to change flights without fees.

Business Select Fares

Business Select fares are the most expensive fare class, offering priority boarding and other perks. However, these are not equivalent to first class on other airlines.

Cancellation and Change Policies

Southwest Airlines does not charge cancellation or change fees. Anytime and Business Select fares are refundable, while Wanna Get Away fares can be applied to future travel.

Rapid Rewards Program

Earning and Redeeming Points

Southwest Airlines offers a loyalty program called Rapid Rewards, allowing members to earn points on flights and partner purchases. Accumulated Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for flights without any blackout dates and never expire.

Earning points is based on the fare type: Business Select fares earn 12 points per dollar, while mid- and low-level fares earn 10x, 8x, or 6x per dollar spent. Additionally, points can be purchased to reach a specific travel goal faster.

A-List and A-List Preferred Benefits

Two elite tiers exist within the Rapid Rewards program: A-List and A-List Preferred. A-List benefits include priority boarding, a 25% points-earning bonus, and free same-day standby. A-List Preferred benefits are even more rewarding, with a 100% points-earning bonus, free inflight Wi-Fi, and all the perks from the A-List status.

To qualify for A-List, members must earn 35,000 tier qualifying points or fly 25 one-way flights per calendar year. Reaching A-List Preferred status requires 70,000 tier qualifying points or 50 one-way flights per calendar year.

Southwest’s Y fare is the highest fare class, available exclusively for Business Select passengers, which offers additional benefits such as priority boarding and extra Rapid Rewards points. Although Southwest doesn’t have a traditional first-class cabin, Business Select fares and the Rapid Rewards program provide exceptional value and services to frequent Southwest travelers.

Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

Benefits and Perks

Southwest Airlines offers three personal credit cards for customers looking for travel rewards. These cards are the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus, Premier, and Priority cards. Each card comes with its unique perks and benefits, such as Southwest annual travel credits, no foreign transaction fees, and more.

The Southwest Priority Credit Card is known for offering more premium benefits. It provides a $75 Southwest annual travel credit, 1,500 tier qualifying points per $10,000 spent, and an annual fee of $149.

Earning and Redeeming Points

With all Southwest credit cards, users can earn Rapid Rewards points for their spending. For example, Southwest credit cards offer 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines purchases, internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming services. They also provide 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases made using the card.

Currently, Southwest personal credit cards offer a welcome bonus of 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. These points can be used to book flights, enjoy in-flight extras, or even for gift cards, merchandise, and more.

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Southwest Airlines Baggage Policy

Southwest Airlines is known for its generous baggage allowance. Passengers can enjoy two free checked bags when flying with the airline, provided the bags meet certain requirements.

The first and second checked bags must not exceed 50 lbs and 62 inches (L+W+H). Southwest ensures this policy allows customers to travel without worrying about additional fees for their baggage.

However, if your bags exceed these specified limits, be prepared to pay some additional charges. Overweight items from 50 to 100 pounds and oversized items over 62 inches but not more than 80 inches incur a fee of $75 per item.

Additionally, Southwest does not charge any change fees, which further adds to the convenience for passengers who need to make modifications to their travel plans.

Remember to always check the most up-to-date baggage policy before your flight to ensure a smooth travel experience with Southwest Airlines.

In-Flight Amenities and Entertainment

Premium Drinks

While flying with Southwest Airlines, passengers can enjoy a selection of premium alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and spirits. This will enable travelers to relax and savor their in-flight experience even more.

Live TV and Movies

Southwest offers Inflight Entertainment Portal which features a variety of movies, TV series on demand, and live TV channels at no additional cost. Passengers can simply tune in and stay entertained throughout their journey, taking advantage of the complimentary entertainment options available.

Flight Options and Destinations

Domestic Flights

Southwest Airlines is known for its extensive coverage within the United States. They operate domestic flights to popular destinations such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Honolulu . With a fleet primarily composed of Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800 aircrafts, passengers can expect a comfortable and efficient journey.

International Flights

The airline also offers international flights to several destinations in Central America and the Caribbean. Southwest passengers can easily book flights to countries like Mexico, Belize, and the Bahamas, among others.

737 Max 8 Fleet

Southwest Airlines has added the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to its fleet for increased efficiency and a modernized travel experience. The 737 MAX 8 aircraft serves both domestic and international routes, providing passengers with contemporary amenities.

Although Southwest Airlines doesn’t offer a traditional first-class seating option, they do provide passengers with an upgraded ticket class called Business Select. This fare type allows for priority boarding, extra Rapid Rewards points, and a complimentary premium drink on flights that are 176 miles or more.

Comparison with Other Airlines

Business Class Comparison

Southwest Airlines offers Business Select, which is similar to first class on other airlines. In contrast, American Airlines, British Airways, and Delta offer dedicated business class sections with luxurious amenities.

Southwest’s open seating policy allows Business Select passengers to choose their preferred seat, while other airlines provide pre-assigned seating in their business class cabins. Business Select fares on Southwest include priority boarding, whereas select airlines, like Delta, offer similar perks through their Sky Priority service.

Extra Features and Benefits

On Southwest, Wi-Fi is available for purchase, while airlines such as American Airlines and Delta offer free in-flight entertainment options in their business class cabins. Southwest does not provide seat-back screens, but passengers can access content on personal devices.

In terms of in-flight meals, Southwest offers complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. However, airlines like British Airways and American Airlines provide more elaborate meal options to their business class passengers.

Business class passengers on airlines like Delta and British Airways have access to airport lounges. Southwest does not have dedicated lounges but offers discounted membership to partner lounge networks for their Business Select customers.


Southwest primarily offers an efficient, budget-friendly travel experience, focusing on affordability and simplicity. In contrast, American Airlines, British Airways, and Delta cater to passengers seeking a more luxurious travel experience through full-fledged business class products with a range of amenities.

Same-Day Flight Changes

Same-Day Standby

Southwest Airlines offers same-day standby for eligible passengers, allowing more flexibility in their travel plans. A-List and A-List Preferred Members have access to free same-day standby, enabling them to request being added to the standby list on the day of their flight.

Same-day standby passengers are placed on a priority list, and if space is available on an earlier flight, they’ll be accommodated according to their boarding position. This means that your original boarding order is not guaranteed on the new flight.

Same-Day Changes Fees

Southwest Airlines also allows eligible passengers to request same-day changes to their flights. It’s important to note that fees might be applicable, depending on the fare type and the difference in fare between the original and the new flight.

To make a same-day change, passengers must request it on the day of their flight, up to 10 minutes before their original scheduled departure time. Remember that same-day change availability depends on the seat availability on the desired flight.

When using same-day change or standby, passengers can take advantage of the express lanes at the airport to speed up their check-in process, making their travel experience even smoother.

Travel Expert Recommendations

Travel experts agree that Southwest Airlines does not offer a traditional first-class experience. Instead, they have their own version called Business Select. Business Select fares grant priority boarding and a complimentary drink.

Although it may not provide lie-flat seating and other luxurious amenities, experts offer recommendations to make the most out of your Southwest flight. Being familiar with their unique boarding system will help enhance your travel experience. Remember, Southwest has no assigned seats.

When it comes to choosing the best seats, experts suggest those who value legroom or wish to deplane quickly go for an aisle seat near the front. Others who find window views more appealing may prioritize selecting a window seat instead. Find more details on best seat selections at Upgraded Points.

Lastly, despite not having a traditional first-class cabin, Southwest does provide excellent customer service and perks like two free checked bags. Keep in mind these benefits when considering whether to fly Southwest Business Select or opt for another airline.

Taxes and Fees

Southwest Airlines includes various taxes and fees in its ticket prices. Here, we discuss some of the main components affecting the overall cost.

  • Federal Excise Tax: A 7.5% tax for domestic flights within the US.

  • Federal Segment Fee: A $4.10 charge for each flight segment, defined as a takeoff and a landing.
  • September 11th Security Fee: Imposed by the government, this fee costs $5.60 per one-way trip.
  • Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs): Airport-assessed fees amounting up to $18.

For international flights or trips to Hawaii, there are additional charges:

  • Arrival/Departure Tax: Priced at $10.60 each way for travel between the continental US and Hawaii.
  • International Transportation Tax: Costing $21.10 each way for travel between the continental US and foreign countries, including Puerto Rico.

These taxes and fees contribute to the overall price of Southwest Airlines tickets, making it essential for travelers to be aware of them while planning their trips.

Aircraft flying in sunset


Despite the fact that Southwest Airlines does not offer a traditional first class, they do provide an alternative known as Business Select. This option offers benefits similar to traditional first class experiences on other airlines.

Although not as luxurious as typical first class cabins, Business Select still provides passengers with advantages like priority boarding, extra Rapid Rewards points, and a complimentary premium drink. Travelers can expect a comfortable trip with Southwest’s Business Select fare.

Southwest’s Anytime Fares is another fare option that, while offering more flexibility, does not include the same benefits as Business Select. However, it can still be a good choice for passengers needing more freedom with their travel plans.

Ultimately, those who choose to fly with Southwest Airlines can count on a reliable travel experience without the added extravagance of a designated first class cabin. The airline’s Business Select fare serves as a practical alternative for those seeking an upgraded experience when flying Southwest.


While Southwest Airlines does not have a traditional first class seating option, they offer a premium fare called Business Select. This fare provides some benefits similar to a standard first-class experience, such as priority boarding.

Business Select fares entitle passengers to positions A1-A15 during boarding. This ensures a higher chance for preferred seating options. The airline primarily operates Boeing 737-700 aircraft, which feature 31 inches of seat pitch.

Additionally, travelers booking Business Select can expect to earn more Rapid Rewards points. They will receive 12 points per dollar spent, compared to the 6 points per dollar for the more affordable Wanna Get Away fares.

Though Southwest’s Business Select is not an exact equivalent to first-class seating on other airlines, the benefits it offers cater to passengers seeking a premium travel experience. It’s important to note that Southwest Airlines is primarily a low-cost carrier and prioritizes affordability for its customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Southwest Airlines’ highest class of service?

Southwest Airlines’ highest class of service is Business Select. It provides added benefits such as priority boarding and free premium drink vouchers but does not have separate first-class or business-class seating.

How does Southwest Business Select differ from Early Bird?

Southwest’s Business Select fares come with extra perks, including priority boarding, Fly By lane access, and a complimentary premium drink. Early Bird Check-in only guarantees automatic check-in, improving boarding position, and does not include additional benefits.

Are Business Select seats on Southwest more spacious?

No, Business Select seats on Southwest are not more spacious. The seats are the same size as regular seats in the aircraft; the Business Select fare offers additional amenities, not improved seating.

What is the pricing for Southwest’s Business Select?

The pricing of Southwest’s Business Select depends on the destination and travel day. It tends to be more expensive than other fare classes, yet it offers additional perks and flexibility, such as same-day ticket changes without fees.

Does Southwest offer first class seating on flights to Hawaii?

Southwest does not offer first-class seating on flights to Hawaii; the airline only has one cabin class, with the highest fare being Business Select.

Can you upgrade your ticket to a higher class on Southwest Airlines?

Southwest does not have first-class or business-class seats to upgrade to; they only offer one class of service. However, passengers can change their fare type to Business Select for added benefits like priority boarding and free premium drink vouchers.

About the author

Hi, I’m Paul Stamp, the adventurer behind this site! I’m in charge of all content and editing. 

I went on my first adventure in 1989 aged just 12 when I flew from the UK to Walt Disney World in Florida with my friend and his family.

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